Tuesday 13 September
Swindon Town 2:1 Chelsea U23
A brave showing from the development squad on a night of a few lessons.
Swindon made a few changes for this tie and their fans joined the boycott of the event with only 1,961 officially in attendance. But if the competition was designed to give experience of adult football to our youngsters then it worked with 17-year-old Jay Dasilva captaining and Martell Taylor-Crossdale (16) making his debut with the U23s.
Our goal came from a Mukhtar Ali thunderbolt but we conceded two goals from towering headers from set pieces – Adi will have them working on defensive drills all week.
Mason Mount had a couple of cracking efforts and Trevor Chalobah caught the eye.
Away from academy team and one of its graduates, Tammy Abraham, blasted two for Bristol City away at Sheffield Wednesday.
John Terry’s ankle ligament strain will keep him out of Friday night’s match with Liverpool. He might be absent for ten-days.
Wednesday 14 September
Tottenham played their first game at Wembley ahead of their ground redevelopment and promptly lost 1-2 to Monaco. We should all give thanks for Spurs as they keep the laughter coming.
Leicester City however adapted much more quickly to the tournament by beating Brugge 0-3.
Friday 16 September
Chelsea 1:2 Liverpool
Well, that was a wet fart of a way to start the weekend. Liverpool won easily because for all the talk of respecting them we simply didn’t show up to play them.
To say we were back to the awful low of the start of the last campaign might be a little bit of an exaggeration but we didn’t manage a single shot in the first-half, failed to close down, tackle or think. We stank the place out. Welcome to the pleasure of having your days off spoilt before you’ve had a chance to change out of your suit.
It was the unlikely figure of Nemanja Matic jinking his way past defenders on the hour and setting up Diego Costa for his fifth goal of the season that breathed life back into our performance. We trailed at the break after watching Liverpool pass the ball around and not marking three red shirts at the far post for their opener. There isn’t much you can do about a thunderbolt like their second except ruefully concede that it happens against us too often; if a player hasn’t scored in months they’ll net against us, if a side haven’t beaten us in years it will happen now, if a player usually thrashes the ball into the stands he’ll find the top corner and if a side only has two shots on target in the whole match they’ll both go in. We are not suggesting that all those things happened tonight but one of them is happening most weeks.
Antonio Conte was surprising slow to introduce substitutes to shake things up, even as Oscar struggled to achieve the tag anonymous.
The only bright spot was that David Luiz looked solid and dependable on his first start in his second spell. He played a little within himself but his personality will come through again.
So, after those games , and Chelsea struggling last year, can Antonio Conte take the boys in blue to a better place this year? Can they deliver the goods this time? we certainly hope so!
Saturday 17 September
Chelsea U18 4-2 Arsenal U18
Martell Talyor-Crossdale bagged a hat-trick as the academy side gave us all a lift. Harvey St-Clair chipped in with the other after great work from George McEachran. It was a good bounce back from defeat at Norwich last time out and a shot in the arm for everyone.
Sunday 18 September
We are not suggesting that Jose has lost his mojo just that losing 3-1 at Watford is the kind of thing that happened to us last term. Manchester United fans all over Sussex are scratching their heads and wondering: “did we hire the right man?”