Monday 5 February
Watford 4:1 Chelsea
You can get tired of saying this but if that was a yellow card offence then matches would finish with eight players on each side. Bakayoko’s second yellow offence was an absurdity as he only made the slightest contact with the end of his toe. But, as we established on the first afternoon of the season, what is a yellow or red offence for a Chelsea player is waved away for teams from Manchester or North London.
Mike Dean then compounded his mistake by awarding a penalty for Gerard Deulofeu’s dive. And let’s be really clear here the attacker threw himself theatrically over the Chelsea ‘keeper, if he had been wearing a blue shirt he would have been booked for diving, it has happen time and again. Yet Dean was in the mood to decide Antonio Conte fate, so he added an absurd penalty to the ridiculous red card. This has got to the stage where referees are doing little other than openly cheating.
Conte didn’t dwell on the continuing vendetta being pursued by PGMOL stooges and said his team had played with fear. We did look unbalanced at the back but with the three that won the title last season we should have been solid enough. As it was we stood and watched as they scored their fourth. The players should be ashamed of themselves but we are in this fix because we didn’t recruit the players the manager asked for in the summer, instead buying in fragile spare parts from around Europe. We might be able to salvage the injury-blighted careers of some of them, one or two might even be an asset to the club but Conte is shouldering the blame for a club-wide malaise.
It will be a disgrace if one of the most likable and capable managers we have ever employed is sacked.
Doncaster Belles at home in the next round of the Women’s FA Cup.
Tuesday 6 February
Lincoln City 1:1 Chelsea U21
(Lincoln won 4-2 on penalties)
So near yet so far as the youngsters bow out of the Checkatrade Trophy on penalties.
Lincoln actually rested players at the weekend ahead of their best chance of getting to Wembley in their 133-year history and dominated the early play. It seemed a contest where Chelsea, average age 18, came up against bigger, stronger players than they were used to and where Lincoln players came up against better footballers than they were used to and the two largely cancelled each other out.
They finally got their goal from a deep cross and a bundled header, we got our equaliser through skill and persistence as, Daishawn Redan finished off a good move initiated by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
The penalties were a step too far for the youngsters and you cannot really grumble that the hosts deserved to go to Wembley.
Thursday 8 February
Australia for the next round of pre-season games and Monday 23 July at the Optus Stadium to play Perth Glory. The Optus is a new stadium that holds about 60,000 and we are the first football guests to play at the ground.
Friday 9 February
Chelsea U18 5:1 Swansea City
Goals from Charlie Brown, (oh, go on then, good grief), Connor Gallagher, Tariq Uwakwe and Marc Guehi gave us a 4-1 half-time lead. Marcel Lewis scored a free-kick on his debut at this level.
Feyernoord away in the next round of the Uefa Youth League. The Dutch youngsters came second to Man City in their group and FC Nitra of Slovakia in their play off. The pick of the draw is Manchester United against Liverpool and Bayern München at home to Real Madrid. The draw was not seeded or country protected.
Saturday 10 February
Birmingham City 0:2 Chelsea
Birmingham obligingly played a high line against our closing and pace. It was something of a miracle we didn’t repeat the ten we scored last week in the cup. As it was Fran Kirby gave us a half-time lead and Ji So-Yun showed again that she is a class apart from this league as she calmly clipped the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
In the boy’s game, Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0 to leapfrog us and Liverpool. A few weeks ago it didn’t look possible for Spurs to even get close to third, as it is our form has been so bad we now have a fight to secure a top four finish.