Monday 5 March
Chelsea reserves 0:2 Arsenal reserves
Perhaps distracted by the events of the last few days the reserves didn’t really turn up for this one. Missing eight regulars this was half a youth team with a schoolboy striker, there were moments but the whoel failed to gel and a goal in each half was enough to sink us.
Roberto has hired his old mucker Eddy Newton to coach until the end of the season. There is a certain amount of good will still to both our scorers in the 97 cup final, we sincerely hope they cover themselves in glory. Or at least do a competent job, we’d hate to think the memories of that special, breakthrough afternoon could be tarnished by a bad spell in charge.
Tuesday 6 March
Birmingham City 0:2 Chelsea
Roberto Di Matteo went for more of the same – picking an almost identical team to the first match – the crowd went for Jose Mourinho.
Ryan Bertrand will appreciate the vote of confidence and Salomon Kalou deserved his run out. John ‘man of steel’ Terry was on the bench two-weeks after knee surgery.
The first=half was just as appalling as any of late but Di Matteo stuck to his guns for the second and was eventually rewarded by goals from Mata and Meireles, the latter a cracker, but the mood of the crowd was almost as interesting.
Rafael Benitez declared his availability in the afternoon and Chelsea fans at St Andrews were quick with their analysis of his time at Anfield and his suitability for the Chelsea job. After all, this is the man that fluked a Champion’s league trophy probably to the benefit of far-eastern betting syndicates, bought a succession of players worse than the ones he sold and kept the club’s head above water solely on the goals of Fernando Torres.
Imagine if you will a Chelsea side with Benitez and zonal marking and you have the very image of hell. Or the Uefa Europa League as it is called on Channel Five.
Back to tonight and the football was really poor until a few moments of class. Not for Mata’s goal though; as Torres stood and watched, Mata battled two defenders and got a lucky break, stabbing through the legs of the melee. 0-1.
The second was better football all round: an Ivanovic cross and Ramires lays the ball back for Raul Meireles to thump it into the top corner. 0-2.
Mata should have emulated the feat a few moments later but, unlike Meireles, the Spaniard couldn’t keep his shot down. We were starting to look rampant and a clumsy tackle on Torres brought a penalty but, with the crowd imploring Torres, Mata slapped it at the goalkeeper, just as he had in the first match.
That save gave the home side a fillip and we didn’t really mount much of a threat after that but clung on and largely kept a depleted second tier side at bay. We’ll have to do better but the result is ok gives us a quarter-final against Leicester City and is something to build on.
During the day Pep Guardiola ruled himself out of the manager’s job and Harry Redknapp said he’d never be able to set foot in North London again if he took it. Glenn Hoddle was put on the spot and admitted that he’d take it again like a shot, if only the offer would come.
Brendan Rodgers would have been perfect but said he was looking to build a career not destroy it. He effectively said that whoever is employed to remodel the squad will not be loved or stay long.
Wednesday 7 March
Walter Winterbottom, Boris Arkadiev, Stan Cullis, Victor Maslov, Herbert Chapman, Rinus Michels, Brian Clough and Jock Stein have all failed to rule themselves out of the Chelsea job.
Gianfranco Zola on the other hand would like the role. We are not sure the little Italian is the man for the difficult transition. If he did get the job we’d all have to stow the criticism and even with the team hovering above the drop in six months we’d still love him.
Saturday 10 March
Chelsea 1:0 Stoke City
Roberto Di Matteo is at least a lucky general. This could have been a tricky home game but with John Terry and Gary Cahill paired at the back and Ricardo Fuller stamping on Ivanovic after just 25 minutes our new defensive pairing was rarely troubled.
Gary Cahill actually made the first decent opening when he surged forward and Begovic had to parry his thunderous shot. The worry for RDM will be that we didn’t create more chances. Ramires and Kalou were in providing the width but all Stoke needed to be in the first-half was solid.
After the break Robbie decided to experiment with the Luiz enigma by playing him at right-back, ahem, it was an experiment. It did give the Brazilian more latitude to get forward.
The goal when it came was a corker. Mata threaded a ball down the middle and Drogba controlled the ball round the ’keeper and slotted. 1-0. It was Didier Drogba’s 100th Premiership goal and he becomes the first African to reach the mark.
For once we did have to do much in the way of hanging on as the new defence looked far more solid and Stoke lacked bodies to commit forward. Ultimately it was a comfortable win.
Happy Birthday Chelsea, 107 years today.
Chelsea youth 3:0 Reading youth
Pretty much the youth cup team dominated and easily beat Reading in the morning. An opener from Amin Affane was followed by their goalkeeper being dismissed for clattering Islam Feruz and Baker slotted the kick. Alex Kiwomya finished the scoring but it should have been a cricket score.