Monday 24 February
Aston Villa U18 0:3 Chelsea U18
Some times football can be sublime and a side will get into a rhythm that cannot be denied and our youth team are approaching those levels. Tammy Abraham, Dominic Solanke and Reese Mitchell made up the front line in a 4-3-3 and we dominated so much that a first-half penalty miss by Charlie Colkett made no odds. The goals all came in the second-half: a Jake Clarke-Slater header, a Tammy Abraham tap in and a penalty from Kasey Palmer.
Barcelona have agreed to pay £11.2m to erm, ahem, settle a tax case after not declaring the whole cost of signing Neymar. Barcelona said the Brazilian cost them £48m in the summer but there were considerable extra sums amounting to nearly as much again. Barça furiously deny that their failure to disclose those extra sums amounts to tax fraud.
Didier Drogba has been declaring nothing so costly as simply his love for us and his respect for Jose. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the big Ivorian is going to defeat us single-handed on Wednesday.
Jose himself has a few brows to smooth after French television released footage of him talking off the record about his striking options ahead of the trip to Turkey. To be fair he actually seems to be discussing the impossibility of any big signings as Chelsea take the Uefa financial fair play rules seriously and PSG and Monaco do not.
Tuesday 25 February
Chelsea U19 4:1 AC Milan U19
This Uefa Youth League lark seems to suit our U19 squad. With six wins out of six in the group AC were expected to put up a sterner test as it turned out this was another walk in the park.
AC Milan’s youth set up is managed by Filippo Inzaghi and most of the morning appeared to be spent nudging and pointing. It is not clear how many of Chelsea’s staff got autographs. His side though set up in a very deep defensive formation. Chelsea knocked but could not break them down until Lewis Baker, captain for the day in the absence of Nathan Ake, curled in one of his free-kicks just before half-time and the Milan game plan was busted.
Further goals from Jeremie Boga – skittering through the middle unaided and shooting from distance – Baker again, this time from further out on the volley – set up Alex Kiwomya to score the fourth on the break from a scything John Swift pass. AC claimed a late consolation and seemed extremely wound up by the referee and the indignity of it all.
We host Schalke 04 next month. They beat Real Sociedad 1-2 away.
There have been some disquieting stories coming from Istanbul about Chelsea fans being attacked in a bar in Taksin Square. The club have warned fans that Turkey is an unstable place at the moment and we know those travelling will be on their best behaviour. After all, we have been all over the continent and beyond in recent years and Chelsea fans have always behaved impeccably.
Two fans have minor stab wounds but the square has been the focus of civil unrest in recent weeks and Chelsea had arranged for supporters to meet there before being bussed to the ground.
Wednesday 26 February
Galatasaray 1:1 Chelsea
For the first half an hour this was, er, um, a turkey shoot but we manage to miss most of the birds and, while and score draw isn’t a bad result, Jose Mourinho rued our inability to finish the Turks off.
Willian blew a chance at an open goal early on but Torres ran on to meet Cesar Azpilicueta’s pass and side foot us into the lead. 0-1.
Schürrle, Hazard and Torres were all sloppy with later chances and Willian actually flopped one straight at the ’keeper when it seemed easier to score.
Henr… Roberto Mancini might have blundered in setting up his team at first but a switch to bring on a central midfielder in Kurtulus and most of the attacking fun was over. Suddenly we couldn’t get the bodies forward.
We had to work much harder for chances in the second-half with Hazard’s ball to pick out Torres’ run the pick. The Spaniard did well to stay on his feet and find a shot but the chance was palmed wide.
Their equaliser was absurd. John Terry was ball watching – honestly, at his age – and Ivanovic was too busy escorting Didier Drogba to the far stick to notice Chedjou steal in to poke in a corner. 1-1.
We had been warned a few minutes before as they scuffed and effort against the post but after the equaliser we shut up shop to wait for the second-leg.
Didier Drogba seemed to be enjoying himself, most of the Chelsea players seemed to be relishing the challenge as well. He will bring the house down at the Bridge as long as he doesn’t score late to send the Turks through.
Thursday 27 February
The FA’s kangaroo court surprisingly found Nicolas Anelka guilty over his use of the quenelle gesture. Surprisingly because they also found that he was not an anti-Semite. So once again a player is both innocent and guilty.
Whatever you think of Nicolas’s gesture it would be better if the FA spent its time addressing the current issues of discrimination in the game – black managers, Asian players, gay rights – rather than railroading the few easy targets.
Saturday 1 March
Fulham 1:3 Chelsea
Andre Schürrle might have scored the goals but Eden Hazard pulled the strings as we woke up in the second-half to dominate our nearest and dearest.
Much was made pre-match of our travelling from Turkey on Thursday night but it was minds that appeared tired as we allowed a cross and a free header after just a few minutes.
Fulham were trying to impress their new boss – Felix Magath – and started as if they believed they could avoid relegation. The feeling lasted until we got into gear. We had a few chances beforehand as Torres was quickly on any Stekelenburg mistake; the best of which he flashed wide.
Jose said afterwards that he did not give a half-time team talk but the players burst onto the pitch with more vigour and we only had to wait a few minutes for Hazard to judge his ball over the top to perfection and Schürrle to run on and score with an ease and confidence that we have lacked up front this campaign. 0-1.
The same two players combined again as Hazard waited his moment to dab a pass to the German who finished across the ’keeper. 0-2. A few minutes later and again for the third as Torres weighted his pass for Schürrle to run on and score. 0-3. Chelsea players have scored the last three hat-tricks the league has witnessed and half the total of them in a free scoring season.
It was just fun in the sunshine for all concerned except those in the Stevenage Road who needed eclipse glasses to see the pitch.
We slipped up at a corner for the second time this week as we allowed a goal from Jonny Heitinga and a brief consolation for all the honest denizens of SW6. Haven’t you heard – we are all glory hunters they are the true heirs to the postcode. No, we thought not.
Elsewhere, Arsenal made our defeat at Stoke look less of a mishap by going down 1-0 to the Potters but Liverpool thrashed Southampton to move into second four points behind our lead.
Manchester City are involved in hokey cokey cup action tomorrow and FA Cup feats next week so we will keep our lead for the meantime.
Alan Pardew made history as the only manager to be sent off for a headbutt with his side leading comfortably 1-3 at Hull.
Chelsea U18 0:2 Leicester City U18
Six schoolboys in a side that fought well but couldn’t take its chances, unlike the visitors who won with two second-half strikes.