Monday 19 March
In all the excitement of the weekend we forgot to send our congratulations to Ben Gordon at Kilmarnock as his loan side beat Glasgow Celtic in the Scottish league cup final. Making Ben the first Chelsea player with a medal this season.
Hilario has been given a one-year contract extension. Eh, the goalkeeper who has contributed 39 games in the six years he has been at the club, never looked anything but flaky. At a time the club are casting around to save money this contract extension is bizarre, when we have a cracking young ’keeper in Courtois having an excellent season at Atletico and we are struggling to keep costs down to meet the Financial Fair Play rules. We don’t have an axe to grind with Hilario personally and he probably isn’t on the highest wage at the club but while we dither over contract extensions for Drogba and Kalou because of money this contract smacks of mismanagement.
We have other ’keepers; we’ve just spent nine-months under a manager who was supposed to be rebuilding the squad, clearing out the deadwood and we are offering contract extensions to our fifth or sixth best goalkeeper. Expect Paulo Ferreira to be signed on until 2023 and Bosingwa to be made life president.
Tuesday 20 March
Newcastle United reserves 2:4 Chelsea reserves
A comfortable three-points from a long trip for the reserves with Romelu Lukaku getting us off to a good start despite missing two early chances and Nat Chalobah heading us back ahead before the break.
Billy Clifford and Lukaku again took us clear.
Meanwhile Jacob Mellis has left after a training ground incident with a smoke grenade apparently. Fecking idiot. He will get a job in the Championship fairly quickly.
Wednesday 21 March
Manchester City 2:1 Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo let things go to his head a bit tonight: Didier Drogba was on the bench as Torres was teased, clattered, mauled and generally bullied – it was a night for a bruiser up front. RDM also seemed to think Ramires is a better bet on the right.
Overall we should have had at least a draw at the home of the runaway leaders but the referee once again saw things differently.
Manchester City started brightly but we had the first chance as when Mata somehow fluffed over but it was 1-1 on decent chances moments later when Kolo Toure’s chip hit the bar and Cech fumbled away the rebound.
City had more urgency and directness, as befits a home side challenging for the title but they were being given a huge amount of latitude in the challenge. Torres at one stage was body checked by two City midfielders and told by the ref to get on with it. It was clear that even Mike Dean knows which side it is buttered.
Ivanovich looked to have pulled a muscle and to inspire confidence throughout Bosingwa took to the field and immediately stood and watched as City attacked.
The best chance of the half came when the otherwise ineffective Balotelli swooped on Frank Lampard’s blind ball inside and raced clear. Thankful for Frank Balotelli is woefully out of form and couldn’t beat Cech.
City started the second-half as they’d finished the first – flowing moves leading to nothing. Gareth Barry replaced Balotelli at the break but nothing changed for Chelsea no fresh legs; no more attacking intent.
We were so ordinary that we took the lead. A corner from the right and Luiz and Barry tangle Barry scoops the ball away with his arm but as we are appealing the ball falls to Cahill who lumps it and, via a hefty deflection, it trickles in. 0-1. No, it really was as glamorous as that sounds.
Torres was taken off ten-minutes later and flounced out in a huff. Di Matteo tried to shake hands but ended up looking like a bad dad.
And then absurdity ensured the right result for the title race. A City corner was met by Zabaleta, who hit a rising volley straight at Essien who was turning his back and trying to get out of the way. Penalty? The commentators, and all the next day’s papers agreed, that is a penalty but where is the intent to handle when the ball is blasted straight at you. These same commentators decided we might have been unlucky not to get a penalty against Barcelona but ruled out the last shout because the ball was blasted straight … well, you know the rest. 1-1.
And so with their second shot on target they win the game. It was a nicely worked goal. Nasri is allowed to run clear down the inside right a Tevez backheeled that ball as Nasri carried on his run. 2-1. Fine goal and everything but being as it was only their second shot, and Cech saved the first, should they really be 2-1 ahead. Dean was so confused about the advantage he was supposed to be giving the home side he awarded a goal-kick minutes later when Drogba had won a corner.
The result mean at least that City have a better chance of beating United to the title but it is a waste of momentum as far as we are concerned. After a string of good results Di Matteo might have been getting his feet under the desk but a cripplingly unambitious selection and performance will remind the board to keep looking for a manger.
Saturday 24 March
Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Another damp squib of a performance confirms that we have all been watching decline this season. After the injustice of the midweek penalty we had a couple declined today as confirmation that as soon as you are out of the top four decisions start going against you. Reminder to self to be more sympathetic if we ever regain our status and start getting the nod again.
Spurs came with a full squad and came for a draw sitting men behind the ball. Chelsea on the other hand looked bushed and returned to the familiar slow ball play with little movement and less incision.
The first-half was almost at a complete stroll, apart from one scramble when Modric’s weak volley was parried, Van Der Vaart tried his luck and Adebayor headed over.
The first penalty appeal came when Gallas clumsyed Frank Lampard over in the box without getting the ball. The ref seemed content that the Chelsea player probably wasn’t going to have a shot on target so what is a clumsy challenge between friends.
That said we were not committing bodies forwards so whatever adventure we managed the box was resolutely empty for every cross.
The second-half started with a bit a flourish from both sides, before Ramires broke into the box and Assou-Ekotto hauled him off his feet from behind. The referee didn’t see a penalty.
It dwindled for us from there on. Assou-Ekotto should have been off; after being booked for giving away the penalty, he then laid into Mata and was actually booked.
Didier had a couple of lump efforts from free-kicks before Mata had a go and pinged one off the upright with Friedel a spectator.
Cahill had to clear off the line after Adebayor rolled one towards goal after beating Cech.
Lampard had a shot at the ’keeper, which counts as our first shot on target. Before Bale at the death has a chance well saved.
Perhaps we were saving our energy for Europe.
Chelsea youth 0:0 Charlton Athletic youth
A very young side played Saturday morning ahead of the FA Youth Cup semi and some encouragement from a few new names. Jeremie Boga, all of 15 years, made a few stand out contributions but the satisfaction lies in the defensive performance against a much more experienced Charlton.