Monday 11 February
Blackburn Rovers U21 2:1 Chelsea U21
Marco Marin scored a cracking second-half opener but a couple of slips at the back led to the first defeat since Christmas.
Romelu Lukaku got the week off to a flier with a late winner at Anfield. His West Brom side had been under the cosh and conceded a penalty when suddenly they woke up and defeated Liverpool with two late strikes.
Meanwhile in Wales, [we aren’t making this up] Frank Sinclair has been appointed as manager of Colwyn Bay, Frank is now 41 and joined the Blue Square Bet North club as a player in the summer. His side have so far managed just four wins this season, so it may be a while before he is mentioned for the Chelsea job.
Tuesday 12 February
Billy Clifford has extended his loan with Colchester until the end of the season. The young midfielder joined a team on a nine-game losing streak and having played all five games in is loan spell winning three his side are now out of the relegation spots.
The Daily Mail, hmm, how to adequately express our contempt? This time they have been caught printing details of Rafa’s dossier on Wigan. The scouting report supposedly detailed the frailties of Athletic’s system – the only drawback to the story – it wasn’t true. Th
e Mail admitted as much this morning.
Wednesday 13 February
A plane carrying Shakhtar fans crashed in Donetsk killing five and injuring another 12. The plane was an internal charter carrying fans to the Champions League tie with Borussia Dortmund. It is a sobering reminder of some of the dangers we all face.
Thursday 14 February
AC Sparta Praha 0:1 FC Chelsea
Any one feel like celebrating Valentine’s day? No, we thought not. Substitute Oscar came on and leant an unmerited gloss to a truly abysmal performance. Benitez wasn’t even really experimenting with Hazard and Mata both starting, sadly the ball kept falling to Marko Marin who, to be polite, was on a stinker from the first whistle.
The only thing that saved us was the truly awful finishing displayed by Praha but they were in their first game back after a winter break.
David Lafata had already hoofed a couple of good chances well over when Oscar came on with about ten minutes to go. He wriggled through their defence and shot when he saw the net. A simple tactic not followed by his teammates in the first eighty minutes.
Benitez’s tactics still involve hitting a long ball to the targetman, even when the target is on the bench and all he has is Torres.
This match almost trumped memories of Cambridge United at Stamford Bridge in February 1980 as the worst game ever but Cambridge still win because that game was a draw.
If we play like this Brentford will be licking the lips.
Friday 15 February
Chelsea U18 3:0 Barnsley U18
Stains Town is as glamorous as it sounds so Barnsley’s players can be forgiven for wondering where the King’s Road swagger was. They looked bewildered as Chelsea tore into them in the first-half. Lewis Baker and two from Alex Kiwomya had this tie sewn up before the break.
A string squad, most with reserve experience, will face Manchester City or Derby County in the next round.
Saturday 16 February
Arsenal prove that however poorly our season is going there is worse by losing at home to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
Sunday 17 February
Chelsea 4:0 Brentford
Brentford came, they saw, we conquered. The Bees gave a decent show of getting eleven men behind the ball in the first-half when all the chances fell to Frank Lampard who scuffed or shanked the openings. But Brentford had a few sights themselves and should have taken the lead. The ref blew up for a foul as Trotta ran through and finished. They question is had the defence switched off because of the whistle. The Bees at least have their hard luck story.
Second period and Chelsea came out as if they meant business – Ashley Cole crashed into his first tackle and that set the tone.
It took a long ball from Cech to start the move that opened the scoring – Mata collected Ba’s knock down and shot before anyone in he Brentford defence could react. 1-0.
Oscar was busy all day, unlucky to hit a first-half post, and showed his class with a backheel to convert Ivanovic’s cross. 2-0. Mata turned provider for Frank Lampard to break one of Bobby Tambling’s records with his 26th FA Cup goal. 3-0.
Finally as if from a dream John Terry – in a solid, if unspectacular return from injury – thumped in a far post header from Oscar’s cross. 4-0.
The only black spots on the afternoon came with David Luiz rather cynical shoulder charge on Jack Reeves for which he later apologised and the draw which means we’ll be having our showdown with Manchester United in the quarter-final if we beat Middlesbrough on Wednesday 27 February.