Tuesday 17 November
Lithuania U21 0:0 England U21
Daniel Sturridge started at the front with Michael Mancienne at the back but Ryan Bertrand gave way to the experience of Gibbs but he came on as a replacement as the Arsenal man was injured after twenty minutes.
Jeffrey Bruma, Connor Clifford and Fabio Borini played respectively for the Netherlands (2-1 win over Spain), the Republic (4-1 gubbing by Armenia) and Italy (0-4 stroll in Luxembourg).
Miroslav Stoch came on for the last twenty minutes of Slovakia’s 1-2 defeat to Chile.
Meanwhile Salomon Kalou has been dropped from the Ivory Coast team for kicking a team-mate, Hawthorn’s defender Abdoulaye Meite, in training. He is attempting to be mature about it: “we have been punished and I take responsibility for what happened. This is how you make progress: admit to your mistakes and move on”.
Arrgh, can’t any of them stay upright for a week while away with their clubs? Michael Ballack will not play tomorrow’s friendly with Ivory Coast because of an infected knee. Next time you listen to someone moaning about international breaks and now our players come back injured remember this from Joachim Löw: “It makes no sense to take risks, also in terms of Chelsea as they have quite a few games leading up to Christmas and afterwards.”
Wednesday 18 November
France 1:1 Republic of Ireland
Ireland played a blinder but didn’t do enough to avoid elimination to Thierry Henry’s handled, passed and William Gallas’ headed the goal that knocked them out.
Elsewhere, Russia lost 1-0 away PREY-FOR-THEM-I-WILL-BE to Slovenia and go out on away goals. Guus Hiddink is already answering questions about a return to Chelsea. YOU’RE-ALRIGHT. CAUNGHT.
The Portuguese boys also sneak through with a 2-0 aggregate win over Bosnia Herzegovina. Deco played despite limping out of the first game.
Saturday 18 November 1978
Chelsea 1:3 Tottenham Hotspur
31 years before the mast. Given the game and the season it took place in there can be no accusations of glory hunting. It was, oddly, also the last season we lost at home to Wolves.
Friday 20 November
Rhys Taylor, our promising but largely unheralded young goalkeeper, has moved to QPR on loan until the beginning of January. He will act as cover for Radek Cerny.
Essien v. Kalou & Drogba in Angola as the draw for the African Cup of Nations pits Ghana and Ivory Coast in the group stage.
John Terry and Ashley Cole have both trained and should be available for the game against Wolves. But Michael Ballack, Deco, Lampard and Drogba will all be missing meaning space on the bench for Fabio Borini, Nemanja Matic and Gaël Kakuta.
Saturday 21 November
Chelsea 4:0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Michael Essien showed just what he can do when his seniors in the midfield have gone. He was all industry, setting up play and especially shooting. When Frank Lampard and Ballack come to retire he will be ready to replace them. This was a severely weakened Chelsea side missing Carvalho, Lampard, Ballack, Bosingwa, and Drogba
Malouda got us off to the brightest of starts following a sliding half-chance at the other end he carried the ball forward and belted the leather from it with Wayne Hennessey watching it into the top right of his goal.
Michael Essien then wriggled away from the marking at a corner to head us two up and then shot from outside the box for three in a little more than twenty minutes. Wolves had their moments but were not closing us down well enough to earn much and when Ebanks-Blake finally got a chance Cech pulled off one of his best saves to keep the clean sheet record intact.
We had to wait ten-minutes into the second-half for the fourth as Joe Cole’s rather weak shot again crept under their ’keeper. It was his first goal for over a year.
Gaël Kakuta, 18, was introduced to the Bridge shortly after and showed what the fuss has been about with his first touch he danced away from a challenge and into the area, only to shoot wide.
Nemanja Matic, 21 also came on, followed by another 18-year-old, Fabio Borini as Ancelotti showed where he believes the strength in depth will come from.
Essien was not being distracted by the new arrivals as he sought a hat trick picking up anything around the box and belting towards goal. For good measure one shot saved by Hennessey smacked the crossbar as well as ’keeper’s gloves.
One of Michael’s digs seemed to have gone in as it flashed past the post and bounced off the net support, it seemed to be nestling in the bottom corner.
Carlo was full of praise at the end, especially for Kakuta: “In 30 minutes today he showed he has a lot of talent but we have to stay calm. He is young and he has to improve.” Obi John was more straight forward, having endured his own traumatic transfer saga Mikel said: “We try to kick Gaël in training, That’s the only way to stop him”.
Chelsea youth 0:3 Crystal Palace youth
How can you line up against Palace at home dominate possession, miss a penalty, hit the woodwork and lose three goals. Well, you do it just like this. It is hard to say if we were unlucky or Palace were too good.
Elsewhere, Arsenal lost away at Sunderland leaving us eight points clear until untied beat a supine Everton at home.
Sunday 22 November
Oh, go on then, someone has to mention it; Spurs won an ok match at home to Wigan Athletic by nine goals to one. Jermain Defoe scored five. The really curious thing about the match was that at 1-0 down at half time Wigan were still in the game.