Monday 26 April
We forgot to mention that Stamford ran the marathon yesterday. How could you miss an enormous sweaty lion? He took six hours 25 minutes to complete the course (a respectable time for a man dressed in polyester fur) and raised £10,000 for Help a London Child. You can still sponsor him through the official site.
Tuesday 27 April
Bayern München crushed an anaemic Olympique Lyonnais side 0-3 at the Stade de Gerland to reach the European Cup final 4-0 on aggregate. Alex Ferguson will be kicking himself, and his team, for flunking the easy side of the draw.
Wednesday 28 April
Internazionale have done it, with a battling display and a touch of luck Barcelona could only beat them 1-0 on the night and so Jose Mourinho’s team go through 3-2 on aggregate. For all the drooling over Barça, it was like watching us play Arsenal all contain and counter, too easy really.
Thursday 29 April
Aston Villa youth 1:1 Chelsea youth
The youth team secured a comfortable result from a close and hard fought first leg of the Youth Cup. It was a filthy night in Birmingham with constant rain and those Villans who decided to stay warm and watch the streamed coverage on the FA website will have been delighted to hear the Chelsea TV commentary team.
This really was like watching, er, Arsenal, as Chelsea looked ropey as Villa broke and found a pass every time a shot was needed going forward. Villa’s goal didn’t come from any of their breaks, instead a loose back pass led to a corner that was punched clear but as it was played back in the world’s most comedic looping header somehow dropped over the retreating Sam Walker. 1-0. We strived and worked hard but most moves broke down through over elaboration, with Tore stepping over the ball at least three times before being closed down instead of getting in a cross. It wasn’t all bad; we hit the woodwork twice in the first-half and Jeffrey Bruma stepped up to crack in a free-kick for 1-1 on the hour to leave a finely balanced tie.
Whatever happens in the return on Tuesday, you can be sure that Josh McEachran is going to be a big influence on Chelsea’s future.
Fulham have landed, with a whiff of 50s Brylcreem the boys from the cottage wafted into the first Europa League final. Roy Hodgson’s side beat final hosts Hamburg 2-1 to the delight of St Pauli fans across the globe.
Sadly, Liverpool will not be there and more distressingly still they had to play 30-minutes extra time before being dumped on their arses by Diego Forlan and Atletico Madrid. Again.
Friday 30 April
Didier Drogba is on the cover of Time magazine in the States and is, therefore, the most famous and influential footballer in the world. It is a staggering development and it is difficult for us to understand the importance the Americans place on appearing on the cover of Time. To them it is like winning the Nobel prize and an Oscar rolled into one. He is the only footballer on a list of the 100 most influential people in the world and shares the cover with Bill Clinton and Lady Gaga.
Meanwhile, Drogba confirmed that he needs hernia surgery but he will wait until after the World Cup.
Saturday 1 May
Wycombe Wanderers slipped out of League One along with Southend and Stockport but nobody seems to want to get out at the other end as both Leeds and Millwall lost leaving the second automatic promotion spot open for the last day of the season.
Man City and Spurs both won meaning Liverpool cannot finish in fourth; it won’t stop the bastards trying on Sunday.
Avram Grant finished the season at Fratton Park with a win and an astonishing Mel Gibson impersonation: “They can take points from us, put an embargo on us, but they cannot destroy our spirit – never”, said the impassioned Scottish folk hero.
Sunday 2 May
Liverpool 0:2 Chelsea
To start with Chelsea champions: Miroslav Stoch and Slobodan Rajkovic both on loan at FC Twente are the first two Chelsea players to lift silverware this season. Stoch contributing the second goal as Twente won 0-2 at NAC Breda meaning Ajax couldn’t catch them. It is the Enschede side’s first title in 80 years and completes repairs to Steve McClaren’s reputation.
Miroslav has contributed fully to the whole campaign with only a few dips into injury or poor form. He scored 12 times in 45 appearances. Slobodan has had fewer chances to break into a settled defence but has played his part.
The other group of Chelsea players hoping to land a title started poorly against a surprisingly competitive Liverpool. Terry came back in from suspension last week was the only change from Stoke but the side looked disjointed from the off as Liverpool found space and loose balls, especially from Ballack and Malouda, who appeared to have been reading his own press at just the wrong time: giving away cheap possession and being booked for an unnecessary high boot.
The conspiracy theory suggested that Liverpool didn’t want to win certainly their support seemed apathetic but if that were true Aquilani was measuring his angles carefully as he belted in a shot the skimmed the bar. Gerard made a couple of penetrating runs before Aquilani again found space in the box but Ivanovic closed quickly and nipped the ball away.
Then Steven Gerard won the title for Chelsea under no pressure he played a casual back-pass and a flash later Drogba had rounded the ’keeper to score. Thank you all so very much indeed. 0-1. Celebrations were a touch mental but you can forgive players and fans who can see the promised land through the gloom.
We should have buried the game in the next ten-minute spell. First Lampard, set up by one of a dozen penetrative runs from Kalou, shot wide. Then as Lampard set up Anelka only for a Kyrgiakos foot to toe the ball behind.
Kalou was starting to look like a star player as he broke into the box from Malouda’s pass only to be tripped by Lucas. There was clear contact with the Liverpool player but the ref was unmoved. Another of those situations where the laws demand either a penalty or a booking for simulation and yet neither appeared.
The penalty incident was right on half-time and an award would have started the party early, as it was optimism was infectious.
The second-half started as the first had ended: Kalou breaking down the left, into the box and his fizzed cross was simply too quick for Anelka to convert.
The second duly arrived when Drogba chipped the ball over and Anelka laid the ball in for Lampard to score. 0-2. Party time kin the stands and for the players who celebrated like they’d won the league already. Even some of the Liverpool supporters seemed to be cheering the lesser of two evils.
There were a few scares: when Terry attempted to chest the ball away from Babel it needed a quick reaction from Alex to prevent the Dutchman scoring.
Chances started to rack up on the break. Malouda smashed a volley that Reina miraculously got a hand to, he punched away a Ballack free-kick and he was lucky to recover in time after he parried Anelka’s shot and Kalou charged in for the rebound.
The result meant Sunderland could win us the league by beating Manchester United but a streaky 0-1 win will keep us honest for the last home game. Ferguson admitted after their game that they were clutching at straws so it is up to Chelsea to make sure they don’t have a chance. If you had offered the scenario in August of needing to beat Wigan Athletic at home to win the league we’d have bitten off your hand. Now let’s make it happen.
The Championship wound up while we were playing. Blackpool completed a good season by clinching a play-off spot. At the other end the head to head shootout for survival saw Crystal Palace safe with a 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.