Monday 4 March
Hold the back page – we are top of a league, say, we are top of a league… we should explain – Chelsea lead the International Federation of Football History and Statistics Club World Ranking. Barcelona have sat at the top of this – the most prestigious table imaginable – for years but we have usurped them after their recent defeats to Real Madrid and AC Milan – the stats wonks probably haven’t yet entered in our results against Swansea and QPR.
So the price of watching the IFFH&S champions next season will remain the same as the club announce another price freeze.
Tuesday 5 March
Old Trafford sank beneath a tidal wave of sympathy following their elimination from the Champions League. The ref was so corrupt and incompetent that he sent off one of their players for kicking an opponent in the ribs. Yes, you read that correctly, a United player was sent off. Obviously this is not the service that United thought they were paying for and an enquiry has been launched at the highest level to make sure that United are never again inconvenienced by a mere official applying the laws of the game.
Wednesday 6 March
Celtic surprised many by narrowly failing to overcome a 3-0 deficit from the first leg as Juventus squeak past them 5-0. Seriously the Glasgow side have had a magnificent season in Europe.
Alex Ferguson is still too cross to appear in public but Uefa have announced plans to sanction him for failing to speak to the media. Patrice Evra will also have his ban increased from not harsh enough to nearly vindictive.
Thursday 7 March
Steaua Bucharest 1:0 Chelsea
Worse and more desperate by the match Benitez surely cannot think we are simply dissatisfied because of his time at Liverpool – commentators who attack Chelsea’s fans for lack of patience should be forced to sit and watch utterly incompetent performances like this before approving of our manager.
The saintly Benitez put out another unbalanced team with the sole intent of not conceding. Obviously starting on the back foot was a bad idea as they scored. A soft penalty but they all count.
After their goal we looked a little bit livelier but could barely muster a shot on target and when we did it was scuffed.
Fernando Torres had perhaps his worst performance as all the balls he received were shinned into touch or tamely given away. You could see the hesitation in Hazard as he broke forward. Seeing only Torres ahead of him, a visible Belgian shrug seemed to emanate from him as he passed and Torres fluffed – what, after all, is the point?
At one point in the second-half played clean through with only the ’keeper to beat, Torres laid the ball back to nobody and it was cleared.
Benitez was upbeat and unrealistic after the match claiming that we’d still go through but a performance like this on Sunday and we’ll all be so scarred we’ll never watch a FA Cup game again.
Friday 8 March
Derby County U18 1:2 Chelsea U18
Derby were in fine form coming into this one and enjoyed possession but no chances before Lewis Baker put us ahead from the penalty spot. The hosts came back on the hour but a late Alex Kiwomya rifle sealed it for us – just – they hit woodwork with virtually the last kick. Chelsea progress to the two-legged semi-final with either Hull City or Liverpool.
Saturday 9 March
While we await tomorrow’s game there is time to appreciate Romelu Lukaku who scored one and missed a penalty as West Brom came from behind to beat Swansea. The young Belgian is turning into a very good player using the ball intelligently as well as scoring. Just what we need in fact.
Sam Hutchinson made a five-minute appearance for Nottingham Forest as they beat nine-man Ipswich Town. Sam has been out injured for another long stretch of the season so, hopefully this time he is back for good.
Sunday 10 March
Manchester United 2:2 Chelsea
The performance up to half-time was so poor we were on the verge of recommending Benitez be assassinated to save any other club the pain and embarrassment of having this pain and embarrassment as their manager. We were adrift – not closing down in defence, not together in attack – a collection of individuals against a team.
Their goals – from United’s second-string attack – were both preventable. Gary Cahill was lost as Hernandez snuck in behind him and Cech came just far enough to strand himself as the Mexican’s head drifted into the top corner. 1-0.
It was worse a few minutes later as Rooney floated a free-kick that everyone missed, including Cech, 2-0. To be fair to Cech he could see that David Luiz was going to head the ball clear before being barged off it by a United player. Still, this is Old Trafford.
We looked hapless and disorganised. Many have suggested that what happened after their two goals should give us cause to support Benitez. We disagree – this manager consistently sends out poorly organised and motivated teams. That the Chelsea players managed a strong performance this time is more chance than design.
But, what a performance; Chelsea shredded Manchester United on their own pitch with almost complete dominance. Cech had only a few touches as we controlled and then demolished the champions elect.
Obi John and Hazard replaced Lampard and Moses early in the second-half and a domination of possession became a domination of the game.
Mata was still the most influential cog but Hazard levelled the scored when Mata’s pass found him he cut inside and curled the ball across the goalkeeper and into the net. 2-1. It was a moment of sublime perfection that could only be bettered if it was the winning goal in a World Cup final.
We weren’t done. David Luiz intercepted a stray pass and suddenly we were breaking Oscar drew a challenge and move it on to Ramires who checked and curled a shot into the bottom corner just beyond the despairing dive of David De Gea, 2-2.
Juan Mata ran the rest of the game: he put one effort straight at De Gea before Luiz’s perfect ball finds instant control from the Spaniard who changes feet and slams the ball toward the far corner in one movement –De Gea’s foot was all the stood between Chelsea and the semi-final.
This was probably the best 45-minutes ever. It is just a shame it followed a 45 of the usual poorly organised rubbish.
To put a cap on the afternoon Liverpool beat the pesky upstarts from White Hart Lane.
If they ever find time to hold the replay of this match the eventual winners will play Manchester City in the semi-final.