“I can get up quicker when Chelsea score a goal than I do when I have to get up and feed my horses”, John Sillett reveals that you can take the man out of Chelsea but you cannot take Chelsea out of the man.
Sunday 1 March
Save us from cup finals this dreary, two-hours of sterile football from players who clearly didn’t much care for the medal or the occasion. And then the worst penalty shootout in history as Spurs wilted.
Manchester United secured their second of five, nobody was counting the Club World Cup until they won it, and if they’d lost that they’d now be talking about four out of four. It seems to be the same with their clean sheet record, they only count the games in which they don’t concede, so if they ship goals in Japan, it is only a domestic record, and if Derby County score at Old Trafford it is only a league and FA Cup record, and if they concede a league goal with Kuszczak in goal then it is Van der Sar’s record.
Monday 2 March
Aston Villa reserves 4:3 Chelsea reserves
Narrow defeat away at the league leaders, Michael Essien played the whole match and scored one at the death in a rollercoaster game, in which, Ricardo Carvalho lasted an hour. It was also Aldi Haxhia’s debut for the reserves with all the other ‘keepers injured. It was up and down from the third minute when Patrick van Aanholt slotted from a Miroslav Stoch pass. It took a couple of their first-team irregulars to get them back in it as Marlon Harewood linked with Nathan Delfouneso.
Jacob Mellis got our second again from good work by Stoch. It wasn’t all of two minutes before they equalised, Aldi Haxhia beaten to the ball by a Villan midfielder who ghosted into the box. Sadly he could do little with a Villa shot a while later and they led 3-2 at the break.
Second-half and we were hampered by Carl Magnay’s slight injury, he soldiered on for 30-minutes, through the pain from his back but ultimately gave a weak pass that lead to their fourth on 80-minutes.
Essien had a few surging runs left in him and pulled one back almost immediately and the game spluttered to a close with chances at either end.
Hiddink and Wilkins travelled and watched the match. Earlier at his press conference Guus said he’d “love it” if we beat Man Utd, thankfully without the weird stare and pointy finger gestures Keegan brought to the same remark ten years ago.
Tuesday 3 March
Portsmouth 0:1 Chelsea
The conditions were, shall we say, damp and it prevented either side really enjoying this game. But Chelsea have a stubborn streak under the new manager and ground out a result with Didier Drogba’s late strike in shocking weather. In fact it was so foul that few noticed the roof on the away end, the rain just had a way of getting you anyway.
Most of the faithful had started grumbling about handing the title to Manchester United by the time Drog picked up a Bosingwa cross and curled it low passed David James. It was a moment of class in an otherwise scrappy match. We dominated possession but they made the clearer chances, there were a couple of half-chances for either side before Cech stretched to palm away a skidding Sean Davis shot.
When we did make chances they either squirmed away, when Didier just missed Ashley Cole’s cross or found David James’ midriff.
Ballack steered a header just over the bar in the last action of the first-half and the first time we’ve gone in all-square since Guus took over.
Belletti and Quaresma came on in the second but there were few chances until Drogba headed one just over and then as we over committed, Crouch broke up field, squared for Kranjcar but the ball went wide, suddenly we seemed to have a match. Ten-minutes later and Drogba relieves the pressure by actually sticking it in the net and we are on our way to four-points behind, albeit having play two more, United wouldn’t take their eye off the ball now would they.
The game finished we plenty of up and under and big lads in the box but the best they could do with it all was a header that went backwards.
Spare a thought for young Franco Di Santo stripped off an ready to come one when Drogba scored and suddenly it is; “sit down son, it’ll not be tonight”.
The morning’s papers brought a Bruce Buck interview saying he thought there could be as many as five major changes of personnel in the summer and a slight drift from the hard financial line of sales before purchases, by suggesting their will be money from Roman.
It raises one issue: to whom has Bruce been talking about transfers, he said between three and five changes but with no permanent manager in place who is going to make the decisions?
Thursday 5 March
Ashley Cole had a bit of a run in with the old bill last night, the whole squad took part in a charity bash for CLIC Sargent and Right to Play at the Armani shop on the Brompton Road, and some appear to have gone on for a few after. From Ash’s statement it appear he was objecting to having his picture taken when a helpful rozzer suggested he calm down. The is the stage most people start reminding the bill of the dubious parentage and Ashley appears to have been no different.
Friday 6 March
While swearing at coppers is still the main topic for the press sadly Paulo Ferreira will miss the rest of the season with another anterior cruciate ligament injury. Perhaps fitness and conditioning regimes at Cobham need to be reviewed: “to suffer one cruciate ligament injury, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to suffer three looks like carelessness”.
Saturday 7 March
Coventry City 0:2 Chelsea
Much has already been made of Didier Drogba’s form since Hiddink arrived but his presence and determination here brought a goal chances, and by occupying two terrified defenders made so much more space for everyone lese.
Didier muscled himself onto a ball to create a chance in the second minute and then repeated the feet to hook a left foot effort into the far top corner on fifteen.
Coventry City huffed and puffed, what they tried to do they did quickly but they couldn’t create any momentum and when they did it failed to result in a shot. Both Leon Best and Freddy Eastwood ran at us with the ball but
We could have been further ahead at the break with Lampard running a smooth midfield, Drogba, Ballack and Lampard all missed presentable chances.
The second, when it came, was the kind of lightning break we feared we’d never see again. Coventry had a free-kick to aim into our box only for Alex and Drogba to clash and both require treatment, they were both waived back onto the pitch as long throw man Aron Gunnarsson had finished his schtik, the ball broke to Drogba, fed Quaresma, crossed for Alex to side foot home on the run. (It takes longer to type a brief description than it did for them to do it.) If that is what we’ve been working on in training, Juventus will need to take note.
We were comfortable for the rest of the match, in fact it was a comfortable professional display, organised and determined against opponents who worked us surprisingly hard. Best bit of news was the sight of Michael Essien back on the pitch for half-an-hour and makinga few runs and tackles. He wanted a goal and tried to set himself a few times outside their box but our hitherto obliging hosts wouldn’t go quite that far.
Chelsea youth 3:4 Arsenal youth
Jacopo Sala’s brace had us 2-0 up at the break but a string of bad luck and judgement was us 2-3 down with minutes to play. We pulled it back to 3-3, through Josh McEachran, to set up a tense final minute in which they score. Academy manager Neil Bath for once didn’t pretend that at this level the result doesn’t matter, “we talk about development but sometimes it is about the result … and today was a very disappointing result,” he was clearly gutted to lose to Arsenal. Which, is as it should be at every level at Chelsea.