Tuesday 11 February
West Bromwich Albion 1:1 Chelsea
We picked the worst place and the worst time to concede a first goal against since early last month; it was West Brom’s only attempt on target.
That we dominated possession doesn’t really tell the whole story as the Baggies were direct and threatening periodically throughout and we looked a little shaky at the back without John Terry for a second match.
We looked toothless up front as well, Hazard buzzed, Willian flicked, Oscar dabbled but none could create a decent chance. It took David Luiz to head on a corner and Branislav Ivanovic to sweep home to show the fancy dans how it is done. 0-1.
Jose Mourinho has been at pains to point out that we are the junior partner in the title race but we had not expected such a clear illustration so soon. We have a history of sacking managers unlucky enough to lose at the Hawthorns but we looked to be holding on to the lead to push four-points clear only for West Brom to sense blood and press us back, far too deep, in the last fifteen minutes.
Watching us fail to get into their half or retain possession meant that Anichebe’s goal was an accident waiting to happen. 1-1.
Mourinho will pick them up and dust them down and get them running again. Perhaps they’ll not turn up at away grounds with an air of expectation again this season. If that lesson is learnt and they show the personality Jose is after then this slip will have been worth it.
Chelsea U18 0:0 Wolverhampton Wanderers U18
Given the recent flooding we hardly need describe this as a damp squib. The pitch was heavy and neither team really looked like breaking the deadlock.
Friday 14 February
The death of Tom Finney has been announced. The Preston and England man was 91 and made one of the biggest impressions on the game of anyone of his era. It is rare for one-club players to be so widely loved but Finney seemed to touch everyone. He was described as the last true legend of the game.
Talking of longevity and popularity: Rene Meulensteen has been replaced as Fulham boss by Felix Magath. Felix has won the Bundesliga three times so he might find Craven Cottage a little quaint.
Sam Hutchinson has been loaned to Sheffield Wednesday for a month to finally get a bit of playing time this season. Stuart Grey’s team have had a very mixed season and Sam, who was on loan with Vitesse has had his usual injuries. We hope that both have a positive end to the season.
Saturday 15 February
Manchester City 2:0 Chelsea
As well as we played in the league fixture we switched off at vital moments this afternoon and allowed Manchester City a comfortable win. For all of the hype last Monday’s game was the more intriguing this flat affair looked and felt like Chelsea would rather concentrate on the league.
The only change to that first encounter saw Obi John come into the midfield as Luiz dropped into defence to cover John Terry’s absence. The effect was obvious, for all that City closed and had worked on not allowing us space out wide it was suddenly so much easier for City to find space between the lines. Obi John looked a bit of a passenger at times.
Their opening goal was too simple and had too many Chelsea defenders sucked to the ball Azpilicueta was left defending two attackers and nearly got the block; Stevan Jovetic scored 1-0.
We were managing possession but our passing was laboured and all the tricks and flicks we tried to get behind City were falling between forwards.
The second-half was a drag. We might have mustered a more spirited fight if they hadn’t been allowed and offside second. Samir Nasri scored but as the co-commentators probably trilled about how well he had taken the goal, we would all be able to score important goals if allowed to play from offside positions. 2-0.
Jose Mourinho for once couldn’t really be bothered to complain. He knows his side face tougher tests in Europe and the league and might even have just shrugged at this result.
Chelsea U18 2:2 Arsenal U18
Joe Edwards coached this one as we played a clutch of nine promising schoolboys and still managed a draw against Arsenal. With youth cup action away in Cardiff on Tuesday the whole set up was changed for this fixture and goals from Jake Clarke-Slater and a penalty from Tammy Abraham secured the equalisers needed on a blustery Cobham morning.