Monday 7 January
The U21 team will play in tier 1 of the new competition for the next part of the season. Starting with Fulham we also play Everton, Middlesbrough, Sunderland Blackburn and Villa. If we do well we are still in with a shout of the U21 title in May.
The U21 team will b strengthened by the return of Ben Gordon, Milan Lalkovic, Conor Clifford and Sam Walker who are also back at Chelsea after loans. Patrick Bamford and Todd Kane might well come back too.
Tuesday 8 January
John Terry is pencilled in to play the Under-21’s game against Fulham on Thursday and if there are no complications he could be back in the squad for Stoke at the weekend. It is the first time he has been out for longer than expected, is the man-of-steel showing that he is mortal after all?
In the league cup Bradford humiliated Aston Villa 3-1 in he first leg at Valley Parade. The score did not flatter the hosts as Villa failed to turn up.
Wednesday 9 January
Chelsea 0:2 Swansea City
Another Benitez night of struggle, chances and lax defending. It is not fair to blame Branislav Ivanovic for the two fumbles that presented goals to Swansea strikers who otherwise fed off scraps. It is more the fault of a manager who has a new striker but chose to wait until the dying moments to bring him on.
Mata, Hazard, David Luiz, Ramires, Ivanovic and Oscar all managed shots on target as Torres, again, failed. Benitez watched this drag on until the eighty-first minute before bringing on Demba Ba. The big lad managed to be fouled in the box and booked for being clattered by the goalkeeper – a first for any referee – and then stabbed in a goal back that was ruled out for being on-side.
The indelible feeling was that if Ba had made his home debut from the start or even from the start of the second-half we would have won this easily.
The Liverpool board watched years of comic under achievement from this manager – at least we only have to put up with it until June. So far Benitez has dropped ten-points in the league, lost the World Cup and fucked up a simple League Cup semi-final.
Sacking him now would only cost a million or so.
Thursday 10 January
Chelsea U21 2:0 Fulham U21
John Terry’s return from injury drew all of Fleet Street to warm themselves with Bovril for the first-half but few watched beyond that. There was an U21 match on as well. We were a might fortunate with both goals as their goalkeeper rushed out but missed a ball that Islam Feruz lashed home on the hour and we got a slightly fortunate penalty, Lewis Baker converted, nobody was complaining.
Down in Faro, in Portugal, three Chelsea boys played for Nigeria – Victor Moses and Obi John Mikel you all know but Kenneth Omeruo is probably less well known having played on loan in the Netherlands since signing for us last January. He is a 19-year-old centre-half who holds down a first-team berth in the Eredivisie with ADO Den Haag. The combined might of Chelsea couldn’t see them past Cape Verde in a 0-0.
Friday 11 January
Southampton U18 0:0 Chelsea U18
It all could have been so much more but for Jeremie Boga’s penalty smacking post instead of net in the first-half. An away point should still be viewed as a positive after the rust of the mid-winter break has blown away.
Billy Clifford has joined Colchester for a month as he seeks the loan that will finally get him the playing time he needs.
Saturday 12 January
Stoke City 0:4 Chelsea
Poor, poor Jonathan Walters, you will probably not live long enough to see a man kick the ball into his own face, score two own goals and miss a penalty. We played quite well too.
Stoke actually started very well threatening from a sting of attacks while we adjusted our shape: Gary Cahill cried off just before the kick-off so David Luiz stepped back and Frank Lampard came into the middle.
Demba Ba played too and he made a number of clearances before being involved at his own end f the field, flicking a ball through for Lampard to blast at Asmir Begovic.
Begovic was in form but couldn’t stop the header from an Azpilicueta cross as Mata came in behind him Walters dived to power and unstoppable header past his own goalkeeper. 0-1.
The goal came just before the break and certainly lifted the mood Stoke is a difficult place to come, made easier by gifts from the natives.
Walters was not finished either as Begovic continued to keep out more conventional shots, mostly from Lampard on a mission to catch Bobby Tambling, Walters was on hand to head in another for us from Mata’s corner. 0-2.
Frank Lampard became the second highest goal scorer in our history when a couple of Stoke player appeared to bundle over Juan Mata and Lamps flashed in the spot-kick for goal 194. 0-3. He needs ten more to overtake Tambling but he only has until May.
Eden Hazard looked bright all day but decided that we needed a classy goal to stop rumours of a lucky win so when Mata found him thirty yards from goal he simply thrashed it into the top left-hand corner. 0-4.
John Terry made a cameo appearance and was on the pitch long enough to give away the penalty that Jon Walters spanked over the bar. A real Jon Walters of a day/performance/attempt has already entered the language.
We have always had a good record at Stoke but this was our biggest ever win in the Potteries.
Gary Cahill’s partner Gemma delivered a healthy baby boy.
Romelu Lukaku had a high old time of it this afternoon. He terrorised the Reading defence, scored two, hit both post and bar with thunderous efforts and still ended up on the losing side.
Sunday 13 January
Sadly neither Arsenal nor Liverpool managed to do us a favour as the Manchester clubs rumbled on.