Wednesday 17 September
Chelsea 1:1 Shalke 04
A frustrating night in the end as we stuttered our way into the Champions League again.
Shalke had a dozen injury and illness problems but still had a firing Julian Draxler and Klass-Jan Huntelaar. We started without Diego Costa; Mourinho complained that the Spaniard’s hamstring made it impossible for him to play twice a week so a young striker named Didier Drogba took his first tentative steps into the Chelsea side…
We started solidly enough- Eden Hazard tore strips out of Shalke last year and he looked to do so again against their makeshift defence and when he fed Fábregas with a delightful trick to set up the opener it seemed we were on our way to another convincing win. 1-0. Shalke were right to grumble that Fábregas should have been hauled back for a foul in the build up but the referee didn’t see it.
But the collective foot came off the collective gas and all our clever work yielded no more goals.
We dominated possession and scoring chances but Draxler was a constant threat, at one point wriggling through on his own but shooting wide.
In the second period Draxler set up Huntelaar on the break and he reversed to ball into the corner of the net leaving Courtois stranded. 1-1.
Didier Drogba was having a frustrating night. Played in by Hazard for his best chance but a heavy touch took him a little wide and the effort rolled past the far post with half the stadium trying to suck it into the net.
Costa and Remy came on late but there was a rushed, not quite panicked, tempo to Chelsea’s play and we didn’t really look like getting in front again. Until… Loic Remy thrashed the ball in from a corner only for a German head to pop up and clear.
Schalke put in a magnificent shift to earn this draw and Chelsea now know that speed needs to be added to the developing style is we are to finish teams off.
The other game in the group also finished 1-1 between Sporting and Maribor.
Chelsea U19 4:1 Shalke 04 U19
Izzy Brown is making his name known around Europe as he continues to score in the important matches. Today he notched two as Shalke equalised in the first-half but had no answer to further goals from Dominic Solanke and Ola Aina in the second.
Adi Viveash was beaming from ear to ear with the progress of a very young squad and the chance to manage at this level.
Thursday 18 September
Fulham have parted company with another manager as Felix Magath departs and Kit Symons takes over as caretaker. Symons has been in charge of their U21s and produced a very good academy side. He should be the right fit.
Saturday 20 September
Chelsea U18 5:0 West Bromwich Albion U18
Scholarship boys Miro Muheim and Charlie Wakefield both scored in the first-half as Joe Edward’s side demolished West Brom. Tammy Abraham scored a brace and Faiq Bolkiah rounded off the scoring.
Sunday 21 September
Manchester City 1:1 Chelsea
You have to wonder if someone writes the scripts; Frank Lampard sat moodily on the bench all afternoon wondering what he’d do if he got on and how he should celebrate if he scored. It turned out he did and wouldn’t and we wish he hadn’t.
A magnificent game broke out after all of Sky’s hype Manchester City on their own patch are as fast and aggressive as always. They are discovering their main defensive tactic – of fouling the crap out of everyone who gets the ball – will not work in Europe, but today they upended Diego Costa all day for the lost of one wicket. Pablo Zabaleta saw red for two yellows and a grapple with Costa.
The Spaniard/Brazilian failed to find the net for the first time in five league games but came very close to doubling our advantage with a blistering shot that thumped back of the base of the post with Joe Hart beaten.
The one goal came when Hazard, Costa and Schürrle broke swiftly from City corner and the German rounded off a handful of elegant touches with his second of the season. 0-1.
Frank entered the fray to a larger cheer from the away support that the home and delivered his goal with an embarrassed shrug a few minutes later. 1-1.
James Milner will thank him because this was the former England international’s best performance in years and Lampard will get all the headlines.
A point felt like a kick in the teeth against ten-men, away to our only title rivals but a chance to watch Frank do his stuff for a final time almost felt worth it. The laugh or cry reflex hasn’t had this much work in years. Frank Lampard has now officially scored against 39 different sides in the Premier League – a record that will stand for some time.
Elsewhere, Manchester United slipped up again, when 1-3 up away at Leicester City they contrived to lose 5-3. Spurs and Everton both slipped up at home to West Brom and Crystal Palace respectively.