Monday 1 February
Aston Villa reserves 3:1 Chelsea reserves
The confidence and performance were still there for the reserves but the habit of letting in unfortunate goals was back as well. Kakuta made things happen in midfield, Conor Clifford scared the goalkeeper with a long range lobbed bomb that smacked the bar. But, still, we fell behind. Kenny Strickland then scored his first for the reserves to equalise and we made plenty of other chances, yet somehow, Villa were the more mature side and took their second-half chances when they came.
Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe jumped into the Terry captaincy debate while appearing to be locked in a vortex of Victorian morality: “to be captain of England you have got wider responsibilities for the country.” While this may have been true in the 1950s, Gerry hasn’t realised that in a society where a former Prime Minister has been exposed as banging a Junior Minister and Mr Charles Windsor has been spraying himself inside someone else’s wife while married to the People’s Princess, the boundaries of proper behaviour have changed.
Football has appeared to grow in stature over the last few years but to pretend that the captain of the England football, team rather than the head of state or of government, is the beacon of the nation’s rectitude is absurd.
Transfer deadline news: No news.
Carlo Ancelotti’s modesty is safe for another transfer window. You’ll recall that the big Italian promised to run round the training ground naked in the snow if we signed anyone in January. There was a brief rumour that Asmir Begovic, Portsmouth’s big Serb ’keeper was on his way but Carlo’s tackle was safe from the frost when Stoke City stepped in with a £3,25m deal.
Jack Cork, 20, has signed on loan up at Burnley until the end of the season. Jack impressed in his six months at Coventry earlier this season. This is his first Premier League loan.
Tuesday 2 February
Hull City 1:1 Chelsea
Another big missed opportunity, if we had taken the chances we have been offered to extend leads over Manchester United we would be over the hills and far away by this stage, as it is they will go back above us on Saturday when they beat Portsmouth.
No sooner had January, with its dire warnings of poor results, finished and everyone back from Angola than we slip on our way to a four point gap and finish only two ahead. Complacency played its part as did a fussy referee who blew up whenever the game looked to be developing some flow.
Lampard had an early shot palmed away by Myhill which brought back memories of his astonishing chip here last season. Nicolas’s follow up was, um, not so good.
The defence was a bit static at a corner to concede the opener there was a lot of climbing going on but it is a physical game.1-0. Didier stepped in to score from a free-kick. The ball seemed to travel through the wall and Myhill was deceived by the bounce. 1-1.
Bounce however, was generally lacking in Chelsea’s play and while we put effort into the game the few efforts we had went straight at the ’keeper. Substitute Daniel Sturridge had a late shot turned round.
The result will please a certain red nosed gentleman of Manchester who dresses in red as well as the Hull manager who prefers orange.
Wednesday 3 February
“I think every game is different but … very good counter-attack is the right way to play against Arsenal on Sunday,” Carlo has been watching teams beat Arsenal by playing on the break so Sunday should be a goal fest.
Thursday 4 February
The Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) overturned FC Chelsea’s transfer ban for inducing Gaël Kakuta to break his contract because all sides agreed that we’d done, er, no such thing. Kakuta was too young to sign a professional contract with Racing Club de Lens, instead he had a “training contract” which now appears not to be worth the paper it was printed on.
It seems odd that two parties in a court case can sit down and agree that the case be wound up but as CAS said in their statement:
The two clubs and the player have recognised that the contract between the player and RC Lens was not valid. Accordingly, the player could not have terminated it prematurely and without just cause and FC Chelsea cannot therefore be liable for inducing a breach of contract.
FC Chelsea obviously expected the decision. Carlo Ancelotti’s streaking forfeit if we signed anyone in January now looks a good bet by the old Italian. RC Lens will receive the full cash amount awarded by Fifa. Fifa’s fines totalled €910,000 but the amount we are rumoured to be paying is £2.6m. This is, according to the club, an; “act of good faith and with a view to the possibility of future collaboration with RC Lens, and without recognising any liability, Chelsea has agreed to pay compensation costs for the training given to the player while at Lens”. Without sounding cynical, it seems Lens shut up when the money was offered and we can expect collaboration with Lens, loan signings and the like, over the next few years. Ken Bates untwisted his knickers back in naught six when we paid £5m for Michael Woods and Tom Taiwo after his blustering threats of an official complaint.
That is not to suggest that Chelsea did anything wrong and the original punishment was, as the club said at the time, totally disproportionate, but there remains the feeling that Fifa are now as angry with us as Uefa were over Anders Frisk.
With the JT saga running and running and both governing bodies fixated by Chelsea it would be a good thing for the club, the players and the fans to keep a low profile for a bit.
Deco will retire from international football after his Portugal side slump out of the group stag… ahem, after the World Cup in the summer. He actually said: “I will close my cycle after the World Cup”. He already has 71 caps and will receive at least three more.
Friday 6 February
Sacked. Fabio Capello actually sacked John Terry. It makes no sense. Rio Ferdinand takes over ensuring that England will be the only country represented by someone who has served a drugs ban.
Hopefully, Capello’s inexplicable decision will kill the fevered publicity and we can get back to talking about football and wait for Rio’s injury problems to reinstate England’s rightful leader.
Saturday 7 February
Chelsea youth 0:0 Arsenal youth
A tight game of few clear cut chances and a surprising 0-0 considering the calibre of the sides. Josh McEachran and Gokhan Tore were again mentioned in dispatches, McEachran scored two late on but both from offside positions.
Manchester United scraped their game against Portsmouth 5-0 to move ahead on points and goal difference.
Sunday 8 February
Chelsea 2:0 Arsenal
This was all done and dusted inside twenty minutes whereupon it became a grand attack verses defence exercise and Chelsea won that quite emphatically too.
Arsenal, as they do, had plenty of possession but conceded to the first corner kick as they ran about headless chicken style, John Terry headed across and Didier Drogba side footed home. 1-0. Sheffield Wednesday Martin in the pub had Drogba first goal scorer and 2-0, couldn’t be, could it.
That was on seven minutes and we didn’t have long to wait for a reply as Arshavin fired Fábregas’s chipped pass straight at Cech.
When Arshavin again lost possession on the edge of our box we broke, as Ancelotti said on Wednesday the way to beat Arsenal is to counter-attack, Lampard fed Drogba coming in from the right and the big Ivorian beat the hapless defence to score with his left. 2-0. Surely there would be another goal in the next 68-minutes, Martin couldn’t walk way with £180?
But he could. Arsenal hogged the ball but didn’t get through on goal until late on when Nasri chose not to shoot. Fábregas did have a free-kick brilliantly saved by Cech but for the most part our defence restricted their opportunities, demonstrating our considerable defensive organisation and craft. Mostly in snuffing moves out in the centre as Arsenal failed to get wide or play over the top. Didier had a thunderous free-kick come back from the under side of the bar but that would have spoiled the bet.
John Terry’s performance was under close watch by the press for any signs of stress, but he was imperious, at one stage just before half time running forward playing one-twos he broke into the Arsenal half and set Anelka away. Anelka then found Carvalho backing him up. A minute before the break and Chelsea’s centre-backs are marauding forward. Mourinho would have had a heart attack.
After the game JT applauded the crowd and threw his shirt and armband to fans. Oddly, it was Arsène Wenger who put his finger one the reason for JT’s form: “I had some players who, when they had private problems, were even stronger on the pitch because it is the place where they get out of it, get away from it.”
Earlier in the day the draw for Euro 2012 was made in Poland. England were drawn against Switzerland, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Wales. In the other groups Portugal must face both Denmark and Norway and Petr Cech’s Czech’s must play Spain and Scotland.