Monday 16 January
New twist in the Costa to China saga as the Chinese super league change their rules to forbid any more than three foreigners in a match day squad. Tianjin Quanjian’s owner laid out his frustration at the new rule in a TV interview and claimed to have made bids for Costa, Benzema, Falcao and Cavani – what a forward line that would be.
The new rules mean Costa is very unlikely to move this month, not that he ever was … he has a back injury – remember. If Costa was to depart SW6 during Jan would this effect Chelsea’s possible sixth league title odds?
Wednesday 18 January
Birmingham City U18 0:5 Chelsea U18
The FA Youth Cup juggernaut rolls on as Mason Mount battered a hat-trick, Cole Dasilva and Reece James added the gloss as we hit the woodwork and brought plenty of saves from the Birmingham Blues ’keeper.
Patrick Bamford signed for Middlesbrough for around £5m. Patrick has been impressing on loan, most noticeably at the Riverside, over the last few years and probably now needs a regular home. Signed from Nottingham Forest in 2012 Patrick has had six loan stints during his time at Chelsea. He looked the part of a Premier League striker most of that time but never got his first-team break.
Friday 20 January
Conte was adamant at the press conference that Costa was only out with a back injury and the striker would be back in the side if he was ready. So, reading between them a clear the air meeting has been successful and Costa will be back for the Hull match.
Saturday 21 January
Oh, what fun football can be, even when you are not playing, coming back with the shopping and hearing Liverpool had equalised was a downer but hearing that Swansea City had scored a winner just as you’d finished repacking the freezer and put lunch on brought a broad smile.
Man City and Tottenham then played out a draw, which added to United’s dropped points against Stoke means we can jump nine points clear if Arsenal stumble too.
Over at the Africa Cup of Nations Christian Atsu and Ghana qualified with a match to spare by beating Mali 1-0. The football hasn’t really ignited yet in the competition and Avram Grant’s Ghana side have not really needed a second gear yet.
Sunday 22 January
Chelsea 2:0 Hull City
Diego Costa wrote his name all over the season again as he powered in our first in first-half injury time. Gary Cahill headed our second and clinched the match after 70 minutes and in between we saw a Hull side capable of fighting at the highest level.
The injury time was due to the worst injury at the Bridge in many a year as Cahill and Ryan Mason both went for a header and cracked skulls so loudly that even old ladies in Kensington winced. Treatment on the former Spurs midfielder went on for nine minutes before he was stretchered away to a standing ovation and an operation on a fractured skull. We all wish him well.
It was good to see the Chelsea crowd respond so positively to an injured opponent – whisper it, but we might be getting a new reputation.
Conte was delighted with the result and vindicated in his selection after a week of Chinese whispers. It has to be said that the Italian head coach doesn’t put a foot wrong.
Arsenal did beat Burnley in the earlier match but had a man and their manager sent off and will regret the actions of both.
Burkina Faso qualified for the second phase with a 2-0 victory over Guinea Bissau with Bertrand Traore scoring their second.