Monday 5 December
Amid the hoo-ha crated by the media in full Chelsea meltdown mode – apparently, if we fail to win tomorrow night, the East stand, burning with fire will fall unto the pitch and the number seven shirt shall be rent in sunder – on the back of his first senior goal last week, Conor Clifford has extended his loan to Yeovil for another month.
Tuesday 6 December
Chelsea 3:0 Valencia
A resounding up yours from everyone at the Bridge to the press and television. Andre Villas-Boas sent out a side to prove his critics wrong and sure enough his gamble paid up as Genk held Leverkusen and Valencia fired blanks. We top the group so Uefa cannot lump us with Barcelona in the next round.
The pre-match controversy saw Frank Lampard on the bench with Meireles on in his place. Oriol Romeu kept his holding role in a midfield that looked set up to close down and defend. Wise move.
We started blisteringly; Daniel Sturridge picked up the ball in midfield, he fed Drogba who laid the ball back to Meireles who drew a fine save from Diego Alves in the Valencia goal.
Sturridge again popped up to cross deep into the box where Mata controlled fed Drogba, side step, shot, goal. 1-0.
The goal was a cue to the home side to suddenly sit deep and defend. Little or no pressing just get your body in front of your man. It nearly cost an instant equaliser as Sturridge let Jordi Alba run round him but the Spanish striker rifled the ball against a post from a tight angle.
David Albelda then thrashed a shot at Cech from 20-yards that the big Czech tipped round. Chelsea looked woeful, unable to get close to press players in the way that Valencia did convincingly whenever we had possession.
News filters through that Genk have taken a lead against Leverkusen and suddenly the night has real promise. Not just qualification but top spot.
So woeful did we look that a simple break by Didier Drogba made it two. Ramires was suddenly onto the through ball, round a dawdling defender and nicked past the ’keeper. 2-0.
The second-half started much as the first ended; we kept breaking they kept pressing. Sturridge found his usual narrow angle to hit the goalkeeper when he should have crossed, while Valencia managed nothing more threatening than a cross that almost sailed in.
Oriol Romeu was then absurdly booked for a fine tackle on Pablo Hernandez, before Drogba out-muscled the defence but sent his shot wide of the far post.
He stayed down after the effort as if refusing to believe he’d missed but managed to haul himself up to join an attack as Ramires sprang forward fed the Ivorian who touched the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot. 3-0
That was surely that; Valencia tried but apart from a few pot-shots they rarely threatened.
Andre Villas-Boas had a post-match pot at the media and Gary Neville in particular but he can be forgiven for blowing off a bit of steam after the last few weeks.
Wednesday 7 December
Nicolas Anelka is apparently having talks with Shanghai Shenhua in what would be a three-year deal. Shanghai had a bit of a stinker last term but our old friend from the Cottage, Jean Tigana, is in talks to become manager.
Meanwhile sincere condolences must go to both shades of Manchester as City and United both plunge into the murky pool of Thursday night on Channel Five. City could do no more than beat Bayern München but events were out of their hands as Napoli won at Villarreal. Manchester United on the other hand needed a draw with FC Basel but they, ha, couldn’t, as goals from Marco Streller and Sebastian Frei sent the Swiss side through. The Red side of the City also lost Nemanja Vidic to serious knee injury.
OK, so that jibe about Channel five was a little uncalled for – the Europa League is also covered by ITV4 and ESPN.
Friday 9 December
AVB might be starting to show the signs of strain. He laid into Gary Neville – who has not wanted to do that over the years? The man has a nasal whine more irritating than a mosquito in a tin can – but, having had a dig after the Valencia match, AVB returned to the subject with some ferocity in the build up to Man City. Neville apparently said he wouldn’t want to be in our dressing room before the Valencia game, AVB replied: “What does he know about the Chelsea dressing room? What does Gary Neville know about our dressing room? How can you imagine what is going on in the Chelsea dressing room? How can you know? Have you been here? Do you know where Cobham is? You don’t even know how to get here. I’m normally indifferent, not watching on the telly to see what these people say. But I was watching the television at that moment and I was gobsmacked.”
Gobsmacked described the faces of hacks writing all this down. It is being reported that AVB has asked that the players celebrate with the bench as well.
Meanwhile the identity of the monkey of Genk will remain a mystery after the club announced that interviews with those present in the executive club section failed to identify an individual.
Saturday 10 December
Chelsea youth 5:2 Portsmouth youth
Adi Viveash’s youth team have been on the rise in the last few weeks and another solid performance saw goals from Tom Howard, Islam Feruz, Reece Mitchell, Ishmael Seremba and Lewis Baker. The two goals back will not worry the staff too much on was a bit of luck and the other a dubious penalty. The concern on the day is with Alex Davey who collapsed into a heap with nobody near him. The worry will be a ligament or tendon tear.
Sunday 11 December
Chris Foy has been at it again, this time in the potteries, where he contrived a win for Stoke City at home to Tottenham Hotspur. He did his best to look even-handed by awarding a penalty to Spurs for a comical dive but ensured Stoke held on for the win.
Don’t get us wrong we’re happy to see Spurs drop points ahead of our game with Man City but some of this was farcical. First Peter Crouch handled, not just a bit but obviously, before Stoke took the lead. For his next trick Foy allowed Stoke to manhandle Spurs at every corner, throw and free-kick; at one such Younes Kaboul was yanked back under the referee’s nose only to show the Spurs player yellow for complaining. Spurs should have had another penalty when Shawcross elbowed the ball off the line. In the follow-up Spurs equalised but Adebayor was ruled offside. We don’t need to tell you what the replay showed. Foy’s trademarks followed, first he carded Kaboul a second time for nothing, literally two players competing for the ball but it was Foy’s first opportunity to send someone off. Then, towards the end, as his failing eyesight made him miss another handball, he allowed Luka Modric to be bundled over, under his nose, no free-kick. The Stoke player made no attempt to play the ball, the referee made no attempt to award the foul.
Harry Redknapp will be in trouble with the usual authorities: “To be honest, from the start of the game I felt like he wasn’t going to give us much. I just felt like he was quite enjoying not giving us anything.”
We only mention this because since the QPR game we’d been wondering if we hadn’t lost our marbles as commentators and professional sofa-dwellers declared Foy within his rights to destroy the Loftus Road game. Now we feel vindicated.