Tuesday 2 January
Eden Hazard has been named Belgian Devil of the Year for his performances for the national side. He beat Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to the award. How Mephistopheles and his impish minions are taking the news is, as yet, unknown.
Wednesday 3 January
Arsenal 2:2 Chelsea
Christmas might be past but the pantomime booing season is still in full flow: Moses was booed half the night for being near an Arsenal player who tripped over his own leg and Hazard was roundly booed for being kicked in the penalty area and slotting the resulting spot kick for our equaliser.
This was, if you were neutral, a fast, flashy, entertaining end-to-end encounter but a still a huge disappointment. Having got ourselves level and then ahead, when Marco Alonso ran across the front post like a true striker and battered his effort past Cech – it still rankles seeing him in the Arsenal side – only for a late scrambled, lucky equaliser of their own to rob us of all three points.
Weirdly Gary Neville looked at Eden Hazard having his ankle kicked by Hector Bellerin and decided that it wasn’t a penalty. You can take the boy our of Manchester but you cant stop him being seeing the world through red spectacles.
The referee had a reasonable game, apart from booking Fabregas for winning the ball cleanly and failing to send off Jack Wilshire for a second yellow after a comedy dive in our penalty area.
It was an open match: they hit both posts from one shot after Courtois pushed the ball onto the left hand post it rolled the length of the goal line. It is a tribute to the big stopper that he got back up to retrieve the ball from his first save.
We hit the bar with one of the last kicks as Davide Zappacosta followed up a Morata effort. Al had a night to forget after fluffing the few chances that did fall his way but his movement and positioning got him into the right places and if he keeps that up the goals will flow again.
Kasey Palmer and Ike Ugbo are back from loan. Kasey played an important role in Huddersfield’s promotion to the top flight last season but injury has limited his chances this; Ike has had an underwhelming stay with Barnsley scoring one in 18 appearances. Both will be looking for another, more productive, loan.
West Bromwich Albion at home in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. After beating Scunthorpe in the third round Jody Morris will be confident of beating the Baggies. The tie will be played later this month.
Thursday 4 January
Ike Ugbo had barely been back through the doors when he is off to Milton Keynes for the rest of the season. Ike was one of our top scorers last term but struggled for goals at Championship Barnsley. It will be interesting to see how he fares at the struggling franchise in League One.
Friday 5 January
Ross Barkley has joined us for a piffling £15m only five months after turning us down on deadline day. Ross was obviously conscious of saving us a wad of cash because the price in the summer was closer to £30m and Everton have continued to pay his wages as he recovered from hamstring surgery.
Ross had bags of potential as a youngster at Everton but after a long period out with injury we are not sure what kind of player we are going to get. Antonio Conte stressed the need for patience as the player recovers his fitness and adapts to a new club after 13 years at Goodison Park.
Jordan Houghton’s Doncaster loan has been extended until the end of the season. Darren Ferguson had apparently made a permanent deal for Jordan a priority after a rock solid loan during the first half of the season but despite the clubs agreeing personal terms could not be agreed.
Saturday 6 January
Norwich City 0:0 Chelsea
Just what we needed – – another match in an already crowded calendar – great for the fans who want a couple of matches a week but not so the legs of the players who will have to out match Barcelona in a few weeks as they enjoy a relaxing break and warm weather training.
Norwich were stubborn and well organised but little more as we played the first half in first gear and the second in second gear and never found the fluidity or penetration we needed.
Flat performances have been a feature of the season so far. We can add this one to the matches against Crystal Palace and West Ham.
This was a much-changed side with Moses, Azpilicueta and Kante all left back in London with their feet up and Morata the only established name on a youthful bench. Dujon Sterling and Charly Musonda both made late appearances so at least the squad got a run out.
Reading U18 0:2 Chelsea U18
Barely a stumble after a few weeks off for turkey and trimmings as the U18 resumed their dominance of this age group. A first at this level from Marcel Lavinier and a late penalty from Conor Gallagher were enough for the points against a determined but goal-shy Royals side.
Swansea City U23 2:0 Chelsea U23
Early and late strikes for the hosts means we stumble on. The development squad have been hampered by significant absences as plenty of young players have been on the bench for Antonio Conte and results have been up and down as a result.
Sunday 7 January
Chelsea 3:2 Arsenal
The women are back and, despite every goal in this one being a scrambled bobbler, back to winning ways. Maren Mjelde and two from Ji So-Yun means we take the lead at the top of the WSL table. That is until Reading lay down in from of Manchester City in a 5-0 thumping.
Former Chelsea striker Mark Hughes lost his job at Stoke City after they were knocked out of the cup by Coventry City. We are confident that the managerial merry-go-round means Sparky will get a new job soon
Eden Hazard is 27 today.