Tuesday 10 December
Chelsea U19 5:0 Steaua Bucharest U19
The U19 team under Dermot Drummy can be very proud of qualifying through this group with six wins out of six. It shows the advantage of pushing boys into the age group above as most of the players used play regular under 21 football, often against much older teams.
That said this lost would be a handful for most first teams. Goals in the first-half from John Swift, Alex Kiwomya and a double from Islam Feruz killed the tie and Ambrose Gnahore sealed the result.
Wednesday 11 December
Chelsea 1:0 Steaua Bucharest
Enough was on the night just enough as we qualified top of group E.
We exerted pressure from the start on Steaua who looked dazed in the floodlights. Oscar, returned to the starting line up after injury was particularly bright and it was his header Demba Ba turned in after 10 minutes. 1-0.
At that stage it looked like a rout was just beginning but Steaua missed one chance when Gabriel Iancu ran through but one-on-one dragged his shot wide. Overall they created so few chances that Mark Schwarzer didn’t have to muddy his gloves until injury time.
All of our bright approach play was hampered but slow ball from the back as Obi John popped up as the sole means of transition and his thinking and feet were too ponderous.
Still we created more than enough chances to have won comfortably. Ba could have had a hat-trick and Eden headed on clear over the bar in front of an open goal.
What will have pleased Jose was the way his defence, with David Luiz and Ashley Cole restored, snuffed out the chances they tried to make on the break. There was slight progress here, if not £60 worth. Ashley Cole in particular looked anxious to please and sometimes muddled himself on the simple things.
Steaua offered little offensive other that the green laser pen that attempted to bother Oscar and Jose at various times. The idiot was apparently arrested and so say all of us.
The draw on Monday will bring one of AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiakos, Zenit St Petersburg or Didier Drogba and Galatasaray.
Thursday 12 December
Chelsea U18 4:0 Dartford U18
A gentle introduction to the FA Youth Cup for 2014. Goals came mostly from Dominic Solanke with a hat-trick with Fankaty Dabo adding the other. Dominic is starting to impose his personality on games and we have high hopes for the young man.
The scoreline was harsh on a bright and threatening Dartford side who Adi Viveash described as a credit to their club.
Queen’s Park Rangers announced a move from White City to a white elephant at Old Oak Common. The ‘oops are building a, largely empty, 40,000- seat stadium as part of the redevelopment of the area. Their fan might get lucky as the rest of the development is dependent on property spivs and so there is a chance that the whole deal will fall through long before any move.
Brentford recently announced a more realistic new 20,000-seat stadium project away at Lionel Road. It seems West London is on the move into spanking new stadiums.
Friday 13 December
Chelsea’s U18 side have drawn Sheffield Wednesday at home in the next round of the youth cup.
Saturday 14 December
Chelsea 2:1 Crystal Palace
Two less than convincing home wins in a week but there is some progress in actually winning them. After Arsenal collapsed to a 6-3 at Manchester City this was the perfect chance to claw points back at the top.
Crystal Palace actually looked the better organised side as their defence and midfield formed an impressive barrier. It took Willian to find enough space for a shot that Speroni tipped onto his left hand post; first to react was Fernando Torres who slotted comfortably. 1-0.
That should have been that but we have been slow and careless at the back recently and we allowed a cross and then allowed Marouane Chamakh enough room to volley in. 1-1.
The goal seemed a spur as Mata, Hazard, Willian and Ramires all linked with Torres and it was Ramires who drilled in to restore our lead, with Speroni unsighted. 2-1.
We should have doubled or even tripled our lead before the break but, instead, had to endure a second-half of Palace chances thwarted by Cech.
Jose talked about our failure to kill games off saying: “today could finish 5-1 or 2-2 and that is hard for my heart.”
Sadly news broke later that West Bromwich Albion had taken the bizarre step of sacking Steve Clarke. Not content with beating Manchester United at Old Trafford and nearly beating us it is hard to imagine where the Throstles think they can get a better manager.
Steve will be out of work over Christmas but given the impressive way he has conducted himself in charge at the Hawthorns he will not be on the rock and roll for long.
West Bromwich Albion U18 1:1 Chelsea U18
This was a creditable performance in a week with an U19 Uefa match and the FA Youth Cup five schoolboys were drafted in and Chike Kandi had a good day with our equaliser in the second-half.
Sunday 15 December
Those hoping for a draw at White Hart Lane to keep Liverpool behind us will have been disappointed that Spurs could only manage a nil in a 0-5 walloping. Poor Andre Villas-Boas might not be long for this job.
Plucky Manchester United managed to pull off a surprise by winning at Villa Park to move up to eighth.