Monday 22 March
Chelsea youth 4:0 Blackburn Rovers youth
How the first team could have done with a result like this. A rampant youth team stormed into the FA Youth Cup final by obliterating Blackburn 5-0 on aggregate.
Sent off in the first leg but oddly not suspended until Wednesday Kaby Djalo was able to start. His presence meant an unchanged line-up.
The goals came from Jacopo Sala (with two), Marko Mitrovic and Gokhan Tore. Tore’s goal was probably the pick of the lot, featuring a neat a decisive passing build-up. Another thing the first team should have tried.
Let’s hope this result marks an upturn in the mood around the place.
Tuesday 23 March
Fulham reserves 2:1 Chelsea reserves
Hampered somewhat by the fixture falling between youth cup and first-team games the reserves rallied late on to pull a goal back, through Daniel Philliskirk but ultimately lost.
Branislav Ivanovic will be out for a month. He has torn a medial knee ligament and will miss most of the more important matches, including Manchester United. Sod’s law appears to be working away in the background.
Petr Cech could make a return but will be assessed today.
Wednesday 24 March
Portsmouth 0:5 Chelsea
Just the boost that our goal difference needed to take us one point behind the leaders but a game that was marred by a couple of ugly elbows.
First things first Cech was back in goal and Carvalho returned in place of Alex. Daniel Sturridge played instead of Anelka. The opening half-hour was relatively quiet. We had a few punts but were not testing David James.
That was until half an hour gone when Zhirkov appeared to get away with a foul on O’Hara and the ball was punted forward. Drogba chased but David James was set to clear when he inexplicably lashed at the ball and it broke for Didier to drive into an empty net. 0-1.
Alex replaced Carvalho who limped off looking unhappy. There followed a clash between Malouda and Ricardo Rocha that left the Portsmouth player with a suspected broken cheekbone. Florent seemed to lead with his elbow as he jumped but his eyes were on the ball not the player. He was booked.
Daniel Sturridge joined in as he appeared to elbow Tommy Smith this time the referee didn’t react. Smith was substituted early in the second-half. Both incidents took the shine off what followed.
The second-half started with a peach of a gaol to take us two ahead: Malouda ran into the box from Lampard’s pass and beat James from a tight angle. 0-2.
Joe Cole came into the action for Sturridge and Patrick van Annholt came on for Zhirkov to cap a memorable rise for the young Dutch left-back. We didn’t have to wait long for another as Lampard’s fierce shot came back from David James’ save and Malouda netted the rebound. 0-3.
Didier then made it four, expertly controlling Mikel’s surprisingly good pass from half-way to smash in at the near post. 0-4. A season total over 30 goals for the big Ivorian for the second time in his Chelsea career.
Five arrived in injury time when Drogba headed back Joe Cole’s cross and Lampard headed home. 0-5.
Didier limped off the field almost immediately but he is expected to be fit for Saturday.
Portsmouth could be bitter that Malouda wasn’t sent-off or Sturridge for that matter and it does seem that if our luck was going to change then it had to be tonight.
The haul also means we have passed the highest number of goals scored in a top flight season with 75 so far and two months still to go. 89 in 1964/65 is the best but those came in a 42 game season.
Thursday 25 March
Ricardo’s ankle ligament damage, suffered in last night’s mauling of Portsmouth will keep him out for four weeks. That makes an entire defence out with injury: Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa and Carvalho. Perhaps our luck is not turning after all.
In better news, neither Malouda nor Sturridge will be punished for their loose elbows in last night’s game. The FA have confirmed that as both incidents were seen by the referee they cannot add additional punishments. So, it is not just Steven Gerrard.
Ben Gordon, the reserve’s left-back has joined Tranmere Rovers for a month’s loan at Prenton Park.
Saturday 27 March
Chelsea 7:1 Aston Villa
Hands up who took the 150-1 on this result, added kudos if you also picked Frank Lampard as first goal scorer but then, if you did, you are probably on a plane to the Bahamas as you read this.
Thumping doesn’t adequately describe the score. The true oddity of the game was that we started so hesitantly and without Didier Drogba. The 30-goal Ivorian limped out of Wednesday’s win at Portsmouth and was rested. Deco and Joe Cole came in with Malouda to support Anelka.
Villa started brightly until 14 minutes in when Malouda’s cross/shot was tipped in at the far post by a sliding Frank Lampard. 1-0.
Hesitancy let them back into things ten minutes later when Zhirkov watched the ball across goal and John Carew thumped in. 1-1.
There was an all too familiar feeling that all was going wrong as Zhirkov and Deco picked up bookings.
Zhirkov’s forward play however was catching the eye. When his burst into the box was ended by a Villa boot Frank Lampard grabbed his second from the penalty. 2-1.
The second-half started as the first had, Villa were competitive and we looked wary. Yet ten minutes in Zhirkov again broke down the left and his cross was thrashed in by Florent Malouda. 3-1.
It all became a bit cluttered after that. Zhirkov broke into the box again and was up-ended, again, and Frank scored the penalty, again. 4-1. The hat-trick goal took him to four for the week, 20 for the season and 150 for the club. Level with Peter Osgood and Roy Bentley in the record books.
Malouda then made it two for the day four for his week when he converted Lampard’s cross. 5-1.
You’d think Nicolas Anelka would be desperate to join the glut but as the ball broke to him he fed the substitute Salomon Kalou to score across Friedel. 6-1.
To add gloss to an already shining afternoon Frank Lampard scored his fourth (the second time he has achieved the feat) taking him clear above Osgood and Bentley and sealing Villa’s humiliation. The goal could not have been simpler, the ball bobbled to him and Friedel could only watch. 7-1.
The result is too much of an aberration to act as a guide to the rest of the season but the boys will travel to Old Trafford next week with confidence.
Drogba’s absence once again coincided with brilliant football and a thumping score. Our form without Drogba despite his 30 goals, is the true enigma of this season and gives Ancelotti a selection dilemma for next Saturday.
United won their evening kick-off 4-0 with Bolton to trim our goal difference back to two. Arsenal threw away a late lead to draw at Birmingham.
Oh and, before we forget, John Terry over took Ron Harris as Chelsea’s longest serving captain with 325 games. He is still only 29. We will not live long enough to see that record broken.