Monday 6 May
Congratulations to Sheffield Wednesday as Sheffield United are beaten by Yeovil in the League 1 play-offs. Brentford shrugged off last week’s disappointment of losing in the last minute to beat Swindon after penalties. They should hand out beta blockers at the gate rather than wait for the 999 calls.
Sunderland are looking over their shoulders as they struggled to a 1-1 draw with Stoke. They are level on points with Newcastle and Norwich with Wigan three behind.
Tuesday 7 May
Oriol Romeu is on the verge of a return after a knee problem ruled him out of most of the season. Benitez confirmed that he has been training really well and is pushing for a place. Hazard might well return tomorrow night too but Obi John and Bertrand are out.
Wigan lost at home to Swansea City 2-3. It doesn’t mean that escape is impossible but that it will go down to the last match. Manchester City also won a low-key 1-0 against WBA. It could have been more exciting if Romelu Lukaku had taken any of three presentable chances in the opening stages. In an odd twist City’s win means that Wigan will be playing European football next season as City have guaranteed a Champions League spot.
Speculation that Alex Ferguson might leave Old Trafford has taken hold. One theory is that the Glaziers have been spooked by news that Mourinho is heading back here and feel the need for a younger man.
Rumours are sometimes just that but nobody at United was answering the phone as they realise that they have to disclose significant information after they floated Part of the club on the New York stock exchange.
Wednesday 8 May
Chelsea 2:2 Tottenham Hotspur
Bah those pesky neighbours and that pesky interim manager: well aware of what hung on the game Benitez chose Fernando Torres ahead of Demba Ba, Cahill ahead of Terry and we blew the chance to guarantee Champions League football next season.
It was some game of football though. You have to assume that this side are playing this way despite Benitez because he seems to make illogical decisions with his selections and substitutions. For example, Frank Lampard sat on the bench all night while Yossi Benayoun came on too late to help a tiring side. As Eden Hazard was dominating the game and thrilling with every touch he was yanked off and replaced with Victor Moses. It was as if Benitez was trying for a more defensive formation to hold what he had without realising that Benayoun gives away clumsy free-kicks for breakfast and Hazard had Spurs scared stiff.
An early corner headed goalward by Cahill and in by Oscar settled some of the nerves. 1-0.
Spurs broke from our corner through Adebayor, both Cahill and Ivanovic let him run unchallenged the length of the field before he finished beyond Cech. 1-1 It was an impressive goal but almost anyone can do that under no pressure.
Ramires poked us back in front after a harmless looking throw jinked between Luiz, Ramires, Oscar and Torres all combining in close order before the Brazilian broke onto the Spaniard through ball. 2-1.
We had by far the better chances after that with Hazard clear but slipping as he checked back across and flashed the ball high with Torres begging for a tap in and then Ramires clean through but slipping as the ball was played just behind him.
The whole team looked tired as Spurs pressed late. Adebayor was offside as he set up the substitute Sigurdsson with Cahill again a spectator. 2-2.
Earlier in the day Manchester United sacked Alex Ferguson. Or if you believe the official version announced that he is to step down at the end of the season. His wife will be alarmed. We have often criticised him over the years but his success and presence in the game have been undeniable. Just think back to who you were in 1986. Yes, it is a very long time and that was a very bad haircut. Ferguson has been pushed out to make room for a younger man – possibly David Moyes.
Ferguson hasn’t gone forever because he has accepted a director’s chair and will be dropped back into the dugout every time a new manager fails.
Thursday 9 May
Ferguson didn’t resign from Old Trafford he morphed into the queen mother/mother Theresa/Old Mother Hubbard and is being mourned as if he’d been shot by Kristin Shepard. Sky didn’t even have time to mention the match last night without referring to it through what it might mean to Ferguson, United, or Moyes.
Meanwhile, Watford lost their first leg against Leicester City but have the home leg on Sunday.
Friday 10 May
Chelsea U18 3:1 Crystal Palace U18
Good end of season performance form a very young U18 team taken by Andy Myers ahead of Monday night’s FA Youth cup final. Palace were bigger and stronger and we managed only the one attack in the first-half and guess what, we scored. Dominic Solanke with the strike. Connor Hunte and Walter Figueira scored the second-half goals.
The Crystal Palace first team and Brighton managed an entertaining 0-0 in their first shot at annihilating each other. They resume hostilities next week.
Saturday 11 May
Aston Villa 1:2 Chelsea
Frank Lampard has finally been crowned record goal scorer after half a season of waiting. It didn’t look promising after we fell a goal behind and Ramires was sent off but somehow, and by the power of Frank, we turned it round.
Villa looked bright at the start with Benteke and Agbonlahor running into space and Terry struggling to keep pace. We suppose that is what happens when you are left on the bench for no reason most of the time.
We looked at sea again as Yacouba Sylla played a simple through ball for Benteke who wrong footed Cahill and beat Cech at his near post. 1-0.
Demba Ba almost had an equaliser as he controlled Mata’s chip over the top but Brad Guzan smothered.
Villa kept reminding us of their ability on the break but their fragility at the back – Hazard was fouled giving a chance for Frank to equalise but his powerful free kick was just about dealt with by Guzan and his left hand post.
Benteke then smashed his elbow into Ramires’s face but saw only yellow. In a way it was a good thing Lee Mason was in such a charitable mood because John Terry cynically dragged down Sylla with no cover behind him but again it was only yellow.
Referees sometime feel they have made a mistake and look to make up for it so seeing that Ramires appeared to have a foot high on Agbonlahor Mason issued a second yellow and the Brazilian was off. A replay showed that his foot might have been high but that it wasn’t aimed at Agbonlahor nor did it make contact with the Villa player.
The second-half started with Villa in the mood and Agbonlahor forcing a corner but then it fell a little flat as we mustered nothing and Villa’s efforts fizzled out. It was almost dull so perhaps Benteke was easing the boredom when he jumped and put his studs in John Terry’s ribs and was sent off.
It didn’t help Villa that almost immediately Frank Lampard accepted Hazards pass let the ball run across him and smashed it into the top corner. 1-1.
There followed a period of huff and puff before that old fox in the box Gary Cahill stabbed the ball goalwards and it was cleared by two scrabbling defenders on the line. We claimed it was over, they claimed not – next year we will no for sure.
John Terry was stretchered off and replaced by Ivanovic. There is something wrong with John’s knee. Frank had a chance from Azpilicueta’s cross but headed over but the game had swerved our way – Mata and David Luiz came close with free-kicks but a quick break set up a chance at the other end that Cech did well to acrobatic over the bar.
It was all just preliminary: Cole swapped passes with Hazard who fed the ball across the goal and Frank Lampard tapped in his 203rd goal in a Chelsea shirt. 1-2. Frank hasn’t just scored a lot of goals e has scored significant ones so he was probably waiting for the goal that seals a place in the Champions League to break the record.
A lot has been written about Frank Lampard so we’d just add a word for Bobby Tambling for setting up the record for Frank to break. Bobby has been ill recently but we know that Frank’s goals will have been good medicine.
There was just time for Eden Hazard to pull a hamstring which is a bit tough ahead of the Uefa Cup final on Wednesday.
Villa were too busy to mind being beaten they paid tribute to Stiliyan Petrov who announced his retirement following treatment for leukaemia. Thankfully he is in remission and we wish him well.
Final word to Frank’s mum who passed away a few years back – she said of her boy: “I’m proud he’s a decent human being. People come up to me at games and say, ‘we love Frank, he’s so down to earth,’ or ‘he’s so polite, he always gives people time and signs autographs’. I worry that I sound like a bragging mum sometimes, but as a mum, what more can you want?” Amen.
Congratulations to Wigan Athletic who beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final and in a style that makes a mockery of their league position.
Sunday 12 May
Nathanial Chalobah and Franco Zola are going to Wembley. Watford booked their place with a dramatic end to the second-leg against Leicester – only, they borrow a script form Brentford. This time Leicester had the last gasp penalty twice saved and the hornets broke up field to clinch the tie in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Tottenham won to threaten Arsenal’s place in Europe but little else happened of note – somewhere in Salford a group of glory hunters gathered to ritually sacrifice their great idol and wave around their last piece of silverware in a generation. Well, you can dream.
Norwich City and Newcastle both secured their place for next season.