Monday 11 January
Côte d’Ivoire struggled against Burkina Faso on a day when Didier Drogba misfired and Salomon Kalou only made it off the bench at the end.
It all looked very different in the first-half with the Ivorians slicing through the Burkinabé defence time and again but shots went wide or at the ’keeper and time simply slipped through their fingers until the game finished 0-0. Everyone starts a major tournament with a stinker.
Michael Essien will now try to join Ghana on Wednesday after his flight was delayed because of snow.
Meanwhile, Joe Cole’s contract negotiations are stalled, Ancelotti has been speaking about the England forward’s deal and said that he wanted him to stay but that finance was for the club to work out. Joe is now free to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club and Chelsea seem to have dragged their feet to this point. Perhaps they see him as surplus to requirements and a way of trimming off the wage bill. A strong second half to the season and World Cup should disabuse them of any such notion.
Meanwhile Frank “he’s here, he’s there etc” Leboeuf is to star in a French play as a desperate killer who takes a hostage wile on the run. Frank’s new career as an actor has been fitful since his retirement from playing in 2005, he has appeared in one minor film role and a couple of television episodes. It is hardly a steady job. Frank has dropped so far off the radar that we had to teach the spell check his name again. There is something sad in losing touch so easily with and old friend.
Tuesday 12 January
Nottingham Forest youth 0:4 Chelsea youth
After what feels like an age Chelsea football gets going again, this time with a thumping youth cup victory. Danny Mills Pappoe got us off to a good start, heading in a corner, but the pick of the goals came in the second-half. Just as in the last round the boys enjoyed almost complete control of the whole match but had to wait until the 74th minute for Marco Mitrovic to score the second and, after that, they just kept coming. Connor Clifford shot from 35 yards (which is all over YouTube already) before Mitrovic added his second. Gokhan Tore should be mentioned in dispatches for excellent crosses and endless trickery from the wing. Portsmouth at home in the next round if you fancy a midweek treat.
Nigeria and Obi John lost their opening game to Egypt 3-1. Despite taking the lead, Nigeria looked naïve and the current champions were too strong from them.
Wednesday 13 January
Full of surprises as ever Chelsea appointed a supporter liaison officer. Unsurprisingly it is Graham Smith from the ticket office. Given Liverpool’s recent troublesome email farrago Graham will have to remember to mind his manners while dealing with the two complaints he will get everyday. Why two? Ticket pricing and availability are the only topics anyone ever talks about.
Deco trained with the rest of the squad today as the boys came back from a few day’s rest after the postponement of the Hull trip.
Thursday 14 January
Daniel Sturridge will cost £3.5m after an arbitration panel decided that Manchester City’s valuation of £9m was a bit steep. Because the 20-year old who declined a new City contract and joined us in the summer is under 24 his original club is due a development fee. His cost will rise as his appearances clock up at £500,000 after each ten games until he reaches 40. An extra £1m is due should he impress Fabio Capello, so expect Mancini to be on the phone to the England boss about the friendly against Egypt in March. If he clocks up all of that (£6.5m) City will be entitled to 15% of his next transfer fee, so, in effect, the FA are giving everyone what they wanted.
Jose Mourinho will be celebrating the news from his president that he will not be sacked whatever the outcome against us. That is just the kind of ringing endorsement you need before a big game.
Jose might like to consider QPR for a bit of job security. Yes, our near neighbours have parted company with their second manager in a month after Paul Hart walked away and their eighth manager (six full-time, two caretakers) since honest Flavio Briatore took over in ’07. Hart was only in charge for five matches and, oddly, three of those were against Sheffield United.
Friday 15 January
Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce said today that he tried to sign John Terry 10 years ago for Huddersfield Town. John was on loan at Forest at the time and Bruce saw him there while taking his coaching badges he bid £750,000 and Ken Bates said yes but thankfully John Terry said no. Perhaps he understood, even then, something of his destiny.
Côte d’Ivoire 3:1 Ghana
Kalou and Drogba go through the truncated group, Michael Essien was on the bench and played some of the second-half. Salomon was at the centre of the Ivorian’s first goal, squaring the ball for Gervinho.
Emmanuel Eboué looked like he was trying to get sent home rather than off, his tackles were late and dangerous and eventually he went for clattering through the back of a Ghanaian winger. The Arsenal man looked out of his depth.
The ten-men extended their lead when Siaka Tiene curled in the most outrageous free-kick from fully 35-yards out toward the right touchline.
Kalou’s next contribution was to collect a booking for being kicked in the groin.
Michael Essien hobbled off with twenty minutes to go and will be on the plane home early next week if they don’t beat Burkina Faso.
Didier Drogba, who had a frustrating first-half and wasn’t at his best, then woke up to nod in a great cross from the player that replaced Kalou: Abdul Kieta.
That was two minutes from time and there was still time for a late Ghanaian penalty .
Deco has trained this week but is unlikely to be included tomorrow and Jose Bosingwa has been running but is still weeks away from a return.
Saturday 16 January
Chelsea 7:2 Sunderland
Where to start, in Angola perhaps and save the feast for later: John Obi Mikel’s Nigeria sneaked a 1-0 win over Benin at the same time we were playing Sunderland so he’ll have been happy to hear that his club side found an irresistible gear where everything they tried came off. Well, nearly everything.
We started like a train with two presentable chances fluffed inside five minutes: first, Joe Cole stood on the ball; then Ashley headed back across goal but wide.
Nicolas Anelka showed them how it is done with seven minutes on the clock by running round behind a defender to stay onside before rounding their ’keeper and finishing in an empty net. 1-0. “Deft, delightful football” said the man on the commentary in the evening and you have to agree.
That Sunderland had a makeshift back four was evident but they appeared makeshift all over the pitch slow to close and obligingly tackle free. Afternoons will seldom be this comfortable.
We then had to wait ten minutes before Malouda powered to the edge of the box, shimmied and lashed home from just inside. 2-0. Oddly then Florent held up seven fingers but it was not an eerie prediction but support for a Haitian earthquake charity
Goal of the season followed as Ashley Cole scored a sumptuous goal: Terry clipped an inch perfect ball in behind the defence; Cole tamed with one touch, switched feet to avoid the sliding block and curled it in with a chip from the outside of his left boot. 3-0 and if Ashley Aloysius Cole ever scores a better goal it had better be in the World Cup final.
The first three were rattled in within 22 minutes Frank added a fourth before half-time when he slid in to meet Ashley Cole’s cross. 4-0.
Both Anelka and Michael Ballack had chances to make the half-time scoreline respectable but both were narrowly wide.
Zhirkov replaced Ashley Cole at half-time as a precaution and Alex came on for John Terry. From the other bench appeared Boudewijn Zenden to muted disdain.
Anelka started the half with a fierce shot that Martin Fulop tipped onto both bar and then post before it bounced clear.
Belletti broke up a rare Sunderland move, fed Joe Cole who landed the ball perfectly on Michael Ballack’s head. 5-0. Sunderland wanted to go home.
But to be fair they put up more fight than many others would in their situation with Zenden making himself more popular by pulling one back. 5-1.
Six came from Fulop’s flap at Yuri Zhirkov’s fine cross from the left giving Anelka an open goal. 6-1 with 25 minutes still to play. Ancelotti will have been annoyed that Sunderland drew the remaining period 1-1 although it was no for want of trying.
Anelka had a point blank hat trick chance turned round before an Alex pile driver was blocked and Joe Cole headed against the post from the melee.
Lampard finally got the seventh right on 90-minutes after a good run by Ivanovic and driven cross from Anelka the England midfielder only had to direct the ball on target to take himself to 11 for the term and we had been moaning that he is out of sorts so far this season.
Ancelotti said afterwards: “I said at half-time to play the whole 90 minutes and not to sit back. Why would we do that? The people pay the money for their tickets to see the game for 90 minutes, not just for 45.” Mourinho would have disagreed with that sentiment but few at the Bridge would have on Saturday. This was imperiously football from a side that had looked tired and demoralised just four weeks ago. The linking and movement of the entire ensemble has, for the last two games, been irresistible and while we know that sterner tests than Watford and Sunderland await, you can’t help but lick your lips at the promise.
We cannot remember the last time we scored seven. Last time in the top flight was 50-tears ago against West Brom when Jimmy Greaves scored five but that was before almost everyone’s time.
Oh, yeah Sunderland had just enough time for a corner and Darren Bent’s stab home. 7-2. Some people actually complained that we were still weak at the back.
Aloysius is not really Ashley Cole’s middle name.
Sunday 17 December
Michael Essien has suffered a fresh knee injury and will probably not play any further part on the African Cup of Nations. He was training normally when he went down after a loud click. Doesn’t sound good for him or Chelsea. Ghana will hope to have a few of their established stars back before the World Cup because Michael’s injury they are missing six regulars.
Arsenal’s win at the Reebok against Bolton means they can overtake us at the top if they win their midweek fixture against, er, Bolton.