Monday 8 April
Sunderland U21 0:1 Chelsea U21
Connor Hunte is building a bit of a name for himself. He scored the only goal of the Chelsea second-string’s long trip for a Monday afternoon game by the seaside.
It is amazing that Sunderland produce any footballers at all as every chip, cross, shot, header, dink, whatever you try all end in the same place: blown inland by the wind.
We neglected to mention that Gillingham became the first club to decide their own fate this season by winning promotion to League 1. They need only a few more points to be assured of the title.
In Manchester, City beat United as the Salford reds begin their long Devon Loch. Well, you can always hope.
The post-season tour gets ever more absurd. Another date against Manchester City (again) has been added as we return to Yankee Stadium on Saturday 25 May. Oddly to get a ticket you have to buy one for the Spain v Ireland match scheduled for Tuesday 11 June as well.
Tuesday 9 April
Umm, he’s in trouble: Obi John let the cat out of the bag when he tweeted that the Uefa cup was not the top priority for the team. Well, he actually said, “Thursday nights, channel 5” adding that he hoped we would be prime time again next season.
Meanwhile Benitez revealed that Gary Cahill has had surgery on his knee ten days ago and that he was already nearing fitness.
Wednesday 10 April
Ryan Bertrand is too ill to travel to Moscow so Nathan Ake might start another match in what is becoming a significant season for the 18-year old.
Meanwhile in news of dead ex-premiers, the FA rejected the idea that a minutes’ silence be held for the former prime minister. The spectacle of every ground ripped by boos and catcalls clearly didn’t appeal. Say whatever you like about Margaret Thatcher, she hated football and football hated her. She will be shovelled into a sack and dumped in the Thames next Wednesday.
Thursday 11 April
Rubin Kazan 3:2 Chelsea
Another slipshod night that had even the players squabbling. There were plenty of changes and players rested. Paolo Ferreira played his sixth game of the season and – quiz fans – they have all come in different competitions.
It had all started so brightly as Frank Lampard dinked an early ball over the top to find Torres, with their goalkeeper coming all the way out to meet him the Spaniard lobbed his own shot over the custodian and in. 0-1. The chance came immediately after they spurned a great position when Roman Eremenko shot straight at John Terry.
Rubin looked a bit deflated after the goal and took the best part of the half to seriously threaten our goal, they did just on the break when Cech had to push round Karadeniz’s effort. As they walked off the pitch David Luiz and Frank Lampard appeared to ready to rumble about how much space the Russian had found for the shot.
We looked ropey from the start of he second when Rubin grabbed a goal back as their pair of Spaniards produced a good cross and powerful header. 1-1.
Victor Moses strolled through their defence moments later, used Ramires for a wall pass and slotted calmly. 1-2. But we didn’t make much of an advantage as a few minutes later a repeat of the cross and another header, this time form Karadeniz left us all asking the ‘who was supposed to be marking him?’ question. 2-2.
The penalty was a joke on a scale of one to he fell over, then he fell over. 3-2. We did manage to see out the rest of the match without too many scares but another performance like this at Wembley and there will be tears.
Still we are the only remaining English side in the hat for the semi-finals to be drawn tomorrow. Basel won their penalty shootout with spurs and Newcastle couldn’t find a way back against Benfica.
It will be the 18th semi-final of the Abramovich era – roughly two a year.
Friday 12 April
Liverpool U18 0:2 Chelsea U18
Once again ITV4 line up a Liverpool celebrity only for Chelsea to steal the show. Last year you’ll remember the first leg of the FA youth cup semi-final was away at Old Trafford and they rolled out an ex-Manchester United pro to eulogise about the youth team production line only for us to spoil the party. This year Robbie Fowler was the ex-pro asked to grin and bear a 0-2 defeat.
We started with a real strangle hold on possession and you could have been forgiven for thinking that Chelsea were at home. Possession did not lead to many chances and the second-half promised more of the same as we managed to hit both posts as the game drifted to the inevitable stalemate, until… Lewis Baker’s late shot was deflected to Alex Kiwomya who controlled and finished in a flash. 0-1.
He wasn’t done; Boga went on one of his trilling runs with opponents left in his wake and looked to be heading too wide before finding Kiwomya again on the overlap and the young wide man finished into the far corner 0-2.
The draw for the semi-finals of the Uefa cup paired us with Basel. The Swiss team are fresh from knocking out Tottenham Hotspur so we’ll know what they can do. First leg is away at the end of the month with the return at the Bridge on Thursday 2 May.
Saturday 13 April
Wigan qualified for the cup final as poor old Millwall went back to Bermondsey with nothing but a few copper’s helmets for souvenirs.
Bury fell from League 1 with the probability that Portsmouth will join them.
Sunday 14 April
Chelsea 1:2 Manchester City
Rafael Benitez becomes the first Chelsea manager to lose an FA Cup tie since Luiz Felipe Scolari. Again he didn’t really seem to know what to do. Either he can’t because he lacks a basic grasp of the game or he doesn’t care, either way our season would still finish better if this clown was not in charge.
Today he preferred Obi John and Ramires ahead of Lampard who he left on the bench for the entire game. With tired legs in defence he again ignored John Terry out of spite. As the game was drifting away from him his only change was to bring on Torres, admittedly that sparked panic in the City defence and led to a goal back but Benitez watched the same match as we did and couldn’t see that Oscar was clearly tired and struggling with the pace. Victor Moses is probably not as good a footballer but he is fresh and quick. Again the change never came. While Ramires and Obi John were overwhelmed for an hour.
We were unlucky to have Chris Foy as referee, so the clear penalty when Torres was dragged back and the straight red card when Aguero jumped into David Luiz with both feet were not given. They would have lent a chance for the tiring Chelsea side but Benitez wouldn’t have taken it.
Demba Ba deserves credit for the goal he scored – another athletic volley – but this was a flat display for the whole of the first-half, we didn’t force their reserve goalkeeper to use his gloves until after the hour.
The late rally brought some good stops from their ’keeper but wasn’t enough – we surrendered this tie in the first hour.
Benitez should be sacked before we are humiliated any further. Fulham on Wednesday anyone?