Monday 1 March
Petr Cech has been voted the Czech player of the year for 2009, it is the third time he has won. The big lunk goalkeeper picked up the award in 2005 and 2008.
Breaking hypocrisy news: (or should that be breathtaking hypocrisy news) Fabio Capello has explained that his captains must set an example to the young and that Terry will not captain the side again under him.
He will be able to explain to the nation’s youth then why a man who drunkenly assaulted a DJ will lead out the team on Wednesday, in the absence of his first choice captain who served a nine-month drugs ban.
Wednesday 3 March
England 3:1 Egypt
The booing was somewhat predictable until it seemed the meatheads realised that England’s defence was struggling and the only player holding things together was John Terry when the boos started to die away. One thumping clearance just after we’d taken the lead filled the new stadium with cheers and that was that: John Terry was back and captain in all but name.
Upson’s slip to let Egypt take a first-half lead helped JT’s redemption as did his solid display and forays forward. The England mojo was rebooted by Peter Crouch with two and, however unlikely he looks, we should be used to it by now. Shaun Wright-Phillips scored the other.
Elsewhere in World Cup warm-ups, Hilario made his debut for Portugal aged just 34 (we’ll soon find ourselves saying “don’t footballers look young these days”), Paulo Ferreira played left-back. Ballack’s Germany were beaten by Argentina, Anelka and Malouda were in the French side beaten 0-2 by Spain. Finally, Miroslav Stoch, who has been tearing up Dutch defences for FC Twenty this season came on late for Slovakia as they lost to Norway.
Friday 5 March
Jose Bosingwa will not play against this season or in the World Cup because of complications in his knee. Michael Essien will be a few weeks later than planned with a slight complication.
Dates have been set for the you cup semi final against Blackburn Rovers; away first next Wednesday and then at the Bridge on Monday 22 March both games at 7pm.
Saturday 6 March
Chelsea youth 2:2 Southampton youth
Jacopo Sala doesn’t make the headlines as often as some but he opened the scoring here and could have had a couple. Milan Lalkovic scored the other to put us 2-0 up before half-time. But, Southampton’s youth set up has been excellent for some time and we’ll say they battled back, rather than describe the intercepted back pass or rickety defending that lead to their goals. Our report that Aldi Haxhia had left a few weeks ago appear to have been wide of the mark. We will check our sources more carefully in future.
Sunday 7 March
Chelsea 2:0 Stoke City
This grinding game and ultimately comfortable win was just what the doctor ordered. Chelsea have been struggling on and off the pitch and surviving a Stoke City battering will have lifted confidence.
Stoke started with menace and the usual Rory Delap long-throw. Keen watchers of Chelsea’s reserve goalkeepers knew what to expect as Hilario flapped and panicked but somehow, well Obi John clearing off the line, they failed to turn the first twenty-minute spell into a goal.
At the other end things were more profitable: Anelka had one tame effort saved before dispossessing a defender on the edge of the box a driving a fierce shot across Sorenson’s goal.
For every block in the Stoke penalty area Alex was making one in ours, denying Mamady Sidibe and Tuncay.
The goal when it came was not born of beautiful football but a knockdown from a scrappy corner. Terry laid the ball back to Frank Lampard whose shot took a slight deflection on its way in. 1-0.
The relief around the ground was clear, it didn’t shut up the Stoke fans behind the Shed end goal. They seem intent on annoying JT, he would give them his response a little later.
The second period started with a long throw, this time Ivanovic’s effort eventually fell to Lampard but he volleyed over.
Anelka could have scored with a header which was again brilliantly blocked by the Stoke defence, perhaps we should employ Tony Pulis as a defensive coach, the subsequent corner was cleared but the next was bulleted in by Terry again taking a deflection. 2-0. JT rushed to the crowd, rolled his sleeve up and showed his captain’s armband. There is only one England captain.
Frank Lampard had a thrash from 30 odd yards and both Kalou and Anelka had chances on the break. In the end Hilario only had to muddy his gloves once late on and the team seemed determined to get this one.
If this match marks a turning point and we don’t chuck it all away again against West Ham, then John terry will need to put in a captain’s shift in each game to keep us on course for the treble. That is probably asking too much even from him but it holds out the prospect of glory.
Aston Villa await in the semi and we will have at least one wallet stretch to Wembley. If things go to plan though we’d better start saving in earnest for another.