Tuesday 27 January
Chelsea 1:0 Liverpool
We must be starting to irritate them by now. Liverpool came and gave everything to a full blooded encounter and left with nothing but their pride.
They were bleating about how unfair it was as well. Apparently Diego Costa accidentally stood on two of them. Neither was injured and both played on and completed the match.
Liverpool started like a train and we fumbled a few situations early on. Their tactic was to mark Nemanja Matic and once he was out of position move the ball forward early.
It worked a treat but they had not factored in the growing reputation and confidence of Thibaut Courtois. Three time he had to be alert to quick Liverpool moves and three times he saved well. And, well, that was all they brought. After that we asserted ourselves and dominated possession and the tie.
Costa had a nailed on penalty. Obviously, it was declined. Cesc Fabregas limped out of the action after a clattering collision with, er, John Terry and is a doubt for the visit of Manchester City.
They hung on for all they were worth but in extra-time and needing to score they gave away instead a free-kick and Branislav Ivanovic did what Branislav Ivanovic does best against Liverpool and headed home. 1-0.
They had one more chance as the ball flew across our box and Jordan Henderson, a man named after a model with plastic boobs, made a tit of himself by fluffing wide. Henderson was even luckier than Costa to still be on the pitch after picking up a yellow he handled the ball to prevent a break, the free-kick was given but the mandatory second card did not appear.
Liverpool were clearly desperate for an equaliser to take things to penalties but they couldn’t get the ball let alone a shot on target. As we played keep ball for most of extra-time and could have scored again to make the scoreline better reflect the match.
Given that almost every pundit on tv played for Liverpool the instant judgement on Costa was harsh. He deliberately stamped on both players and knew what he was doing.
The facts are a little more mundane. In the first instance he is clearly focused on the ball and attempting to run away from Can. Whether he meant to tread on him or not, he isn’t looking at the contact and so you can’t say he meant to do it. The incident with Skrtle wasn’t a stamp as Costa was trying to hurdle his upraised leg and had to land somewhere.
Earlier, in Equatorial Guinea: Christian Atsu and Ghana progressed from the group after scoring two late goals to beat South Africa. Ghana are managed by everyone’s favourite old toad, Avram Grant.
Wednesday 28 January
Chelsea U18 6:0 Swansea City U18
Tammy Abraham and Dominic Solanke score five and Kasey Palmer finished things as we raced through qualification for the quarter-finals. Newcastle or Sunderland later in the month.
Jose has been fined £25,000 for speaking openly about a campaign in the media to label Chelsea as divers. He has been cleared of implying refereeing bias.
The FA’s stuffed shirt committee still cannot see that what brings disrepute to the game is the absence of free and open debate within the game. An honest, mature environment in which everyone can say what they feel would improve the game immeasurably. If referees felt able to talk frankly to the players, managers and media, if players were not coached to say nothing but express their personalities and managers could call a Foy a Foy, what a more mature and happier game we would have.
As if to prove Jose’s assertion that there is a campaign in the media against Chelsea, the FA charged Diego Costa for violent conduct based on the assertion of media pundits that he stamped on Emre Can. He was charged for that one not the Skrtle clash because the latter was clearly an accident. Costa now has to prove that the first was an accident.
So, the FA is happy to run a game in which there is no freedom of speech and no due process.
The League Cup final will be against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 1 March after they scored a late winner to scrap past a well organised and spirited Sheffield United.
Thursday 29 January
Costa will appeal the guilty verdict handed down from the FA without a trial but he has no hope of a fair shout so the club are readying Didier Drogba for the weekend clash with Manchester City.
You’ll remember that the fair and impartial FA failed to ban Yaya Toure last season after he kicked Ricky van Wolfswinkel in a game against Norwich.
Friday 30 January
Costa appealed but having already been prejudged his case failed and he has been banned for three matches. The FA will do anything, it seems, to keep a closer title race. Expect nobody else to be banned for accidentally treading on an opponent until chocolate teapot sales take off.
Saturday 31 January
Chelsea 1:1 Manchester City
For all the build up and the expectation the game ended in a stalemate. A draw that will frustrate both sides but City more than us.
With Costa banned and Fábregas stricken we lined up in a deliberately defensive shape. With Ramires paired with Matic and Zouma trusted at the back ahead of Cahill. The bench looked to be bare as Nathan Ake took up his usual post and was joined by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who got on at the death, Andreas Christensen and Izzy Brown.
Their plan was clearly to try to attack wide and we actually witnessed one of the few days that Jesus Navas bothers to turn up. He was at the heart of most of City’s attacking moves.
Sergio Aguero on the other hand looks short of confidence and form as he dragged a one-on-one wide in the first-half.
Our probing with Hazard the fulcrum started to wear at them and as the ball broke to Ivanovic he chipped the ball wide to the Belgian winger, for once there wasn’t a step over or three but a first time cross and Loic Remy, in ahead of Drogba for his pace, side footed the easy opener. 1-0.
It was a goal that summed up how devastating we can be, closing down, swift, decisive action. What will have pleased Jose is that when Costa has not been available Drogba and Remy have been finding the net.
Their reply was a fumbled mess in our defence as James Milner ran across the box drawing the defence and ’keeper out of position and Silva was on hand to deflect in Aguero’s wayward effort. 1-1. And yes, you are right, the ball had not gone out when they were awarded a throw at the start of the move.
And that was that, the second-half was a slightly more backs to the wall effort than we are used to at home but the squad is down to the bare bones and the sight of Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the pitch at the end showed a healthy future for some of the U21s.
Frank Lampard was given a ceremonial run out to a mostly warm reception. A lot of money had been placed on him to score but thankfully we were so deep in our bunker mentality that he didn’t even get a sniff.
Jose did not attend the post match press conferences. Remy and Matic came out for media duties. Mourinho will be fined for his indiscretion proving that the FA will punish him if he opens his mouth and if he doesn’t.
A special mention has to go to Kurt Zouma who has played superbly in the two matches he has been asked to this week. His distribution leaves a lot to be desired but his awareness and positioning in defence are eerily reminiscent of a certain teenage John Terry. We might have another gem.
Aston Villa U18 3:8 Chelsea U18
You know it is going well when you need a calculator to tot up your score. Ike Ugbo took the match ball with three, Charlie Wakefield and Mukhtar Ali got two each and Kyle Scott completed the scorers.
This lot are flying in the south section of the U18 premier league.
Christian Atsu scored twice as Ghana beta poor Guinea 3-0 to book a place in the semi-final. His second goal was a peach as he chested the ball down and bent his shot into the top corner from near the touchline.