Sunday 18 October
News that John Terry and some of the other players have dipped into their own pockets to bail out the women’s team does not reflect well on the club. Don’t get us wrong it is good of the players to offer their support but it is an illustration of how far and how deep the cost cutting of the last few months has gone.
Monday 19 October
Chelsea reserves 4:1 West Ham United reserves
We haven’t seen a Chelsea side buzz around like this for a few years. A healthy attendance saw a young Chelsea reserve side blow West Ham away, they worked tirelessly and had hundreds of shots; a great performance that should earn a few the chance next week against Bolton in the cup.
The first to make his mark was Alex, coming back from injury he played the first-half of this to get himself sharp and scored with probably the least convincing shot of the half. A free-kick awarded after less than a minute was eventually dispatched by Alex. He scuffed it a bit (Alex’s scuffs still stay scuffed) the wall jumped over the ball and Peter Kurucz the West Ham ’keeper was wrong footed (no, that was Mr Kurtz – ‘the horror, the horror’).
And it stayed 1-0 to the break despite some awesome football and a hat full of chances. Paulo Ferreira smacked a long range shot shortly after the goal which was tipped round and the attempts kept on coming; Sala, Sturridge and McEachran all shot over, while Conor Clifford actually made their ’keeper work. The fulcrum of Chelsea’s play was the quietly assured performance of Josh McEachran. Still only 16 years-old-of-age he worked diligently kept his passing simple and direct, at one stage he played in Sturridge but, you guessed, he hammered it into the Ealing Road terrace.
Second-half and more of the same, let’s see, Borini drilled one at the goalie, McEachran had one nicked off his toe as he was going to shoot, one effort deflected wide and another crashed back off the bar. It seemed like one of those nights when, after all the flowing football and powerful shooting, the ball bobbled off Ferreira and was bundled in by Sturridge for 2-0. They all count.
The next, five minutes later, was a classic break with Sturridge and Sala flicking the ball over a marker and continuing his run for Borini to slam in the cross without breaking stride. Perfection.
Borini was in fact just hitting his own stride, he picked up a simple ball over the top and poked it past Mr Kurucz for four-nil.
That they came back and scored will irritate the coaching staff but there was little anyone could do when Frank Nouble turns and lashes one into the top corner from 25-yards (22.86m). Frank, you’ll remember left us for West Ham in the summer.
Steve Holland can be justly proud of the performance but we fear he’ll lose his voice if he carries on bellowing his instructions in quite that way; a whole hearted kind of guy.
Meanwhile Didier, Frank and John have been nominated for the Ballon D’Or, Nicolas must be pleased for them. Pleased for them but more concerned that France drew the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs, Portugal have the somewhat easier task of knocking out Bosnia Herzegovina over two legs while Russia face Slovenia.
Tuesday 20 October
Jose Bosingwa will miss tomorrow’s Champions League game after all, the hamstring that caused his early substitution on Saturday prevents him from making a European return.
Franco Di Santo is going to be a very popular boy on Saturday, ineligible for Blackburn under the loan arrangements he had this to say: “I hope Blackburn win on Saturday,” which is a bit bold from a young man, let’s see if he can dig himself in any deeper, “Now I play for them and want to do my best for them. When I go back to Chelsea, I will want the best for them. Now Blackburn are paying my wages so I want a Blackburn win. I will go to the game because I have a lot of friends at Chelsea and my contract is still with them. I want to go to watch.” He might be sitting on his own.
Wednesday 21 October
Chelsea 4:0 Atletico Madrid
Hmm, news that Carvalho is out of the team raises the question is he being dropped or rested? Carlo says rested, everyone else supposes he has been dropped for his mistakes at the weekend.
The main difference tonight was the complete change of atmosphere, not at the ground you understand but being skint this week we were forced to watch at home on ITV rather than down the pub but as we’re house-sitting in a place with an enormous new flat screen television it was not so bad.
This looked another disaster in the making as Atletico made the better chances, in the first ten minutes Cech made two decent saves from Diego Forlan. At the other end it appeared to be Kalou’s night for heading over or shooting wide. He even managed to get Frank Lampard’s free-kick ruled out for offside. Frank’s kick sailed straight in as their keeper flapped, that Kalou then arrived and jumped in front of him from an offside position was completely irrelevant but jittery officials decided he was interfering.
As the half wore we assumed the level of midfield control and a goal was becoming an inevitability but that Kalou scored it was a relief for all. Lampard found one of his reverse passes to allow Cole to cross for Kalou to smash, somewhat theatrically, the ball into the roof. 1-0. That one came just before half-time and Salomon manage to stay sharp to head in a Lampard corner just after the break.
Atletico huffed and puffed, Forlan and Aguero combined intelligently and were full of menace but a goal from Frank Lampard took the match beyond them and heads seemed to go down. Frank’s goal was, of course, hugely historically significant, like Darwin publishing On the Origin of the Species, the first passenger railway or the armistice of 1918, Frank moving ahead of Jimmy Greaves in the scoring charts will shake the world.
Daniel Sturridge came on toward the end and showed a healthy appetite for the fight. Plenty of good touches from the young man, now, presumably, over his injury problems. Yuri Zhirkov and Florent Malouda where the other two subs on the night, a European debut for Zhirkov.
The late own goal was a little more than we deserved but Malouda’s cross was asking, no, begging to be headed home so it doesn’t much who got their head to it.
A very satisfying European night, let’s just hope there is no more domestic nightmares.
Thursday 22 October
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirm that we have asked for the transfer ban to be suspended while our case is considered. It is a risky tactic bearing in mind the extra cost of players in January and other disadvantage like being cup-tied in Europe. We should find out if the application has been successful in a week or two.
Carlo Ancelotti’s father is apparently very ill in hospital and Carlo has flown out ot be with him. Could leave Butch in charge at the weekend and, you’ll recall, Ray has a 100% record as Chelsea caretaker.
Friday 23 October
Lee Sawyer is in trouble down at Southend. He has been publicly dropped for failing to turn up for a team meeting. Whilst we don’t know the ins and outs of this yet he has struggled to get a game with the Shrimpers this term after impressing with the same team on loan last season. Perhaps he needs a wake up call.
Saturday 24 October
Chelsea 5:0 Blackburn Rovers
Another change of venue for your house sitting diarist, the Half Moon in Herne Hill which is another of those large pubs with plenty of room where the landlord has used scientific method to find the worst place for the television and then keeps fiddling with the sound. In the past the Half Moon has been an unlucky pub when family outings left it the closest venue then Chelsea have lost three, one of them the Liverpool FA Cup semi and won only one.
So, we were not expecting much from this encounter, Looking down the team sheet news that Belletti was in at left-back allowed the pessimists to write off our chances before a ball had been kicked. The optimists pointed to Joe Cole at the tip of the diamond as evidence we’d be unstoppable and so it proved.
Joe Cole very nearly headed us in front after thirty seconds, as he met Lampard’s cross but put header wide.
Blackburn started by looking for corners and free-kicks to load our box, you see they’d heard we were poor at set-pieces, they must have been disappointed when Cech came and collected each and every one.
Frank Lampard drilled one from the edge of the area but just wide before we actually broke quickly up field, Anelka crossed with his left with only Drogba to aim for but a sliding Gaël Givet rolled the ball into the bottom corner. It was hard on Givet who looked their best defender for much of the match.
Blackburn only got to half-time at 1-0 because of some outstanding saves from Paul Robinson, first from Anelka then, spectacularly, from Drogba’s thirty-yard pile driver. Just before the half-time whistle John Terry did his scissor kick act and Robinson was equal to that too, turning round for a corner from which Didier powered in a header which some how stuck in the ’keeper’s gloves.
Only one goal then from the best 45 minutes we have played this season Belletti fought hard for every ball as makeshift left-back Essien and Ballack snuffed out Blackburn attacks while Joe Cole and Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka took in turns to set up chances. Lovely stuff.
Blackburn’s resistance didn’t last much past the restart, in fact only two and a half minutes when the ball broke to Lampard from Drogba’s turn and cross to put us 2-0 ahead and that was quickly followed by the thunderous shot from Essien for 3-0. Nobody closes Michael down because they assume that his shot is going five feet over the bar.
Blackburn didn’t have much to offer before Didier was clattered in the box by Ryan Nelson from Anelka’s cutting pass and Frank Lampard scored his 21st penalty in a row. 4-0.
Michael Ballack laid on the next as his corner was headed in by Didier who had a defender wrapped round his neck but was still strong enough to head home for five and there was still about a half-hour left to add more. Someone in the pub kept repeating “didn’t I say eight?” over and over in the hope that someone would acknowledge him.
Even when Blackburn managed to beat Cech, JT was on hand to head away Olson’s chip.
There wasn’t much hunger for more goals as the game petered out. Nicolas Anelka wanted one and smashed some fierce efforts at Robinson but his team mates had largely switched off.
Jeffrey Bruma made his league debut and looked at home straight away, in fact there was a period at the end where every Chelsea player seemed to be passing to him. Paulo Ferreira also made a come back tonight so the squad is deepening with every game. Daniel Sturridge came on for Joe Cole on 77 and the wee man got a rapturous reception for a night of bright invention on his first start back from injury. And finally being played in the middle, this column has been arguing as much since Joe came to the club and he made a point of mentioning how happy he was in that position after the game. Carlo Ancelotti called him a genius and gave him a huge hug as he left the field. We had a different dimension this evening and title hopes might look a little more realistic on Monday morning.
Ancelotti flies back to Italy tonight to be with his father but is hopeful that his old man is stable.