Monday 13 October
Everyone is struggling in Euro qualifying. The Netherlands were beaten by Iceland as Guus Hiddink’s reign continues its slippery start. Belgium, with Courtois and Hazard to the fore drew 1-1 with Bosnia-Herzegovina. The only clear result was Petr Cech’s Czechs in Kazakhstan with a 2-4 win.
Tuesday 14 October
More international high jinks as Brazil featuring our three beat Japan. Neymar was in full showing off mode and scored all four goals in a 0-4 win.
Andre Schürrle missed Germany’s brave draw against the Republic of Ireland with a sniffle.
Loic Remy reminded everyone that he scores goals with France’s first in a 0-3 in Yerevan against Armenia.
The real fireworks came in Serbia’s game against Albania. A bit of tension between the two countries over Kosovo spilled on to the pitch when an Albanian flag flown under a drone was downed by a Serbian player, fans on the pitch and fist fights ensued and Martin Atkinson called off the whole shooting match, before it turned into a, well, er, a shooting match.
Steve Holland and the England U21 side qualified earlier after beating Croatia to reach next summer’s finals in the Czech Repubic. Summer signing Mario Pasalic was in the lacklustre Croat side.
Lewis Baker, Patrick Bamford, Stipe Perica and Matej Delac all watched from the bench.
Also at U21 Andreas Christensen’s Denmark qualified with an away goal in Iceland while Nathan Ake scored twice for the Netherlands but they miss out after losing 7-4 on aggregate to Portugal.
Wednesday 15 October
The last few games of the international break have been positive for Mohamed Salah and Egypt and Obi John and Ken with Nigeria.
Salah didn’t score but his side beat Botswana 2-0 to haul themselves off the bottom of the group.
Obi John and Kenneth Omeruo both played as Nigeria beat Sudan 3-1 to keep their hope of qualification alive.
Christian Atsu watched as Ghana beat Guinea but Bertrand Traore played as Burkina Faso drew 1-1 with group leaders Gabon.
Saturday 18 October
Crystal Palace 1:2 Chelsea
Jose Mourinho watched closely as Diego Costa missed the match and the team were forced to cope without him. Down to ten-men it looked a possible repeat of last season’s slip but our passing won through.
We started brightly and Oscar lined up a free-kick with only five minutes on the clock only to arrow it into the top corner with Speroni clawing at empty air. 0-1. For all the incident that followed the artistry and power of this free-kick was possibly overlooked.
Then the contentious moments really started. Hazard was tripped in the box but no penalty was given, as Palace looked to exploit the ball on the break John Terry stepped in and, well, scythed his man down. He clearly expected a yellow but none came. Captain for the 500th time John might finally be getting the respect due.
Moments later Damien Delaney was shown a yellow for sliding through the back of Loic Remy.
Things really got tasty when Cesar Azpilicueta lost the ball and stretching to win it back caught Mile Jedinak on the shin and couldn’t protest his straight red card.
Down to ten didn’t last long as the lumbering Delaney hauled Remy down for a second yellow and the match’s second early bath.
Five minutes into the second-half Cesc Fábregas played a one-two with Eden Hazard and then another with Oscar before waiting for Speroni to commit himself and tucking the ball the other way. 0-2. It was another moment of artistry on a wet and miserable Thornton Heath afternoon.
We dominated after that. The slip here last season meant everyone knew exactly what was expected of them and worked as hard without the ball as with.
Frazier Campbell’s late strike will have frustrated everyone but it came too late to influence another strong performance.
Didier Drogba made a very late cameo to suggest he is over his injury worries. Dominic Solanke probably had the biggest smile of the afternoon on the first-team bench.
Chelsea U21 2:2 Fulham U21
Jay Dasilva made his debut as we let slip a good lead against last season’s FA youth cup opponents.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek thundered a shot off their bar from fully 25-yards and the ball fell to Izzy Brown to nod home the rebound.
Jordan Houghton doubled the lead just after the half but a quick goal back and a late leveller meant a draw that take us up to second in the table.
Brighton and Hove Albion U18 2:1 Chelsea U18
A defeat, for a Chelsea team, are you sure? One admittedly with seven schoolboys in the match but it wasn’t a poor display. Isaac Christie-Davies scored our equaliser just after the break but we couldn’t take the chances we made and fell to a goal midway through the half.