Monday 8 February
John Terry will travel with the squad for Wednesday’s game at Goodison Park. He did not train today to rest his dead leg but everyone seems to believe he’ll be fine.
Watford youth beat Liverpool at Anfield to set up a FA youth cup tie with Chelsea. Liverpool were our conquerors in this competition last season so we cannot assume anything about the away trip to Vicarage Road on Feb 17.
Wednesday 10 February
Everton 2:1 Chelsea
As the ball flew over John Terry’s head came the realisation that however much we might want to win the league, our away form will probably rob us of the prize. We don’t seem to have the concentration necessary when, as so often before this season, all the pride and application of the weekend disappeared for nothing tonight.
A few weeks ago we sat down to write an article on how last season differs from this despite the eerie parallels: new manager each time and new tactics, both requiring the full-backs to bomb on and magnificent starts to the season. Even the wobbles when they came, came at the same times. The difference was that Scolari’s Chelsea seemed to be directionless while Ancelotti’s was still striving, still creating chances. Not tonight.
After a bright start Everton out-muscled us across the park. Florent Malouda poked us in front from a long free kick, and flick on he seemed to run around the back of a static defence. 0-1.
After that it was all Saha: with JT trailing in his wake, he had a free header for the equaliser. 1-1. Then he missed a penalty after an off balance Carvalho tripped Donovan.
In the second-half Everton simply wanted it more than Chelsea. First to every ball the Merseysiders murdered us. Terry was wobbling as he missed one ball over his head from which Saha should have had a corner, only to repeat the mistake to let the big French lunk score. 2-1.
It was pathetic how easily we wilted against a good but limited Everton side. Perhaps Chelsea should appoint managers until February and have Hiddink come in for the closing stages just as the Americans have closing pitchers in baseball.
Didier Drogba did hit the bar with a late header and Frank Lampard had an effort tipped round the post but it was little and it was too late.
Ashley Cole hobbled off and will have scans tomorrow; they are concerned about a broken ankle.
Chelsea XI 0:2 Charlton Athletic XI
The reserves played a loosener after a week and a half off since their last against Villa. They always say results don’t matter at this level but they do get repetitive.
Thursday 11 February
Ashley Cole will miss the next three months with a broken ankle. The news is a massive boost for journalists who had feared that the John Terry story was losing its legs, now they can match Terry and Bridge in the same England squad for a fresh round of hysteria.
Meanwhile, John Terry satisfied the media camped around the place by going to the airport and getting on an aeroplane. The incident was reported in breathless fashion by all sources but the upshot is that he will miss Cardiff and be back for Wolves.
Across the pond the draw has been made for the 30th Dallas Cup. The what? The 30th Dallas Cup. Chelsea youth teams have been travelling for some March sunshine to the Lone Star state for the last few years and this season we have been drawn against the hosts FC Dallas as well as LD Alajuelense from Costa Rica and Mexican side CF Monterrey. Our opening fixture on Sunday 28 March in the Pizza Hut Park stadium (a moniker that will send shivers down the spine of all but ardent fans of selling the naming rights) will be against Dallas in front of some 21,000.
Friday 12 February
Charlton Athletic youth 2:2 Chelsea youth
Daniel Philliskirk scored a brace to haul us back from a two-goal deficit. Josh McEachran ran the show from midfield and might have grabbed a winner with a late free-kick.
With John Terry on compassionate and Ashley Cole joining Jose Bosingwa on the long term, Carlo Ancelotti named his starting line-up: “Tomorrow we’ll play Hilario in goal, Paulo Ferreira, Alex, Ricardo Carvalho and Yuri Zhirkov; Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Michael Ballack; Daniel Sturridge, Joe Cole and Didier Drogba up front”.
So you have been told. It is a strong team and something of a compliment to Cardiff City. Although, some of the youngsters will be disappointed, Kakuta and Borini could have expected better although Fabio is on the bench with Jeffrey Bruma and Nemanja Matic. Cech and Anelka have been given the weekend off.
Ashley Cole had his surgery today. The prognosis is three months at least but Ancelotti has been making more positive noises about a return before the end of the season.
Saturday 13 February
Chelsea 4:1 Cardiff City
A comfortable victory somehow carved from a defensive shambles, after every Cardiff corner and set piece led to free headers. The only surprise was that their goal came from open play.
Didier Drogba got out of the blocks early as Obi John played a sumptuous ball over the top of a square defence and the Ivorian netted about 90 seconds into the game. 1-0.
The first-half was downhill from there; Alec had to hack the ball off the line from a corner and Hilario pulled off a showy save this time from a free header from a free-kick.
Their goal seemed preventable. Zhirkov didn’t move to stop Burke’s cross and Michael Chopra ran in unopposed with Alex simply watching. 1-1.
If you listened hard at half-time you could just make out a string of expletives in Italian.
Something was ringing in the players’ ears as they came out. Joe Cole had his first-half performance rewarded with substitution as Salomon Kalou came on. Within five minutes Kalou fed Drogba who played a superb ball over for Ballack to lift a finish over the ’keeper, 2-1, and when Sturridge scored his customary FA Cup goal, again from Drogba’s menace, we were comfortable. 3-1.
Salomon Kalou’s lively display was rewarded toward the end when he somehow contorted himself to bend a header in over the keeper from Paulo Ferreira’s cross. 4-1.
Peter Borota (1952-2010) leaves us after a long illness aged just 57. Peter was not the greatest Chelsea custodian but he did inject a bit of eastern block glamour to a tired Chelsea side during my first season with a season ticket. Peter joined in March 1979, signed by Danny Blanchflower (ask your grandfather) and rapidly became a television favourite for rushing headlong out of his area to sweep up behind a defence that was frequently caught square. Peter was the first player I ever saw kick the ball out when an opponent was injured. He was a great character who left us for Brentford on his way to Boavista in 1982. It all seems so long ago.
Sunday 14 February
Stoke in the next round of the Cup, oh, sorry yeah, or Man City at the Bridge. The only two really challenging sides left in the competition. And, yes, the draw is rigged to suit the telly.
Elsewhere, Fulham v Bolton Wanderers or Tottenham Hotspur, Reading or West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace or Aston Villa and, if they are still in business, Portsmouth play Birmingham City.
The Newcastle Chronicle thinks we will take Patrick Van Aanholt back from his loan on the dot. The young Dutch man has massively impressed walking straight into the Newcastle team that leads the Championship. Ashley Cole’s break means we need cover at left-back and, if Zhirkov picks up an injury, it could be a huge opportunity for the 20-year old who has already been talked about in the Netherlands for their World Cup squad.