Tuesday 23 January
Chelsea U21 3:0 Oxford United
This Checkatrade Trophy run is starting to turn into the stuff of legends. The youngsters battered Oxford. Harvey St Clair and Daishawn Redan score the two first-half goals and Juan Castillo netted in the second. In truth it could have been half a dozen more with the chances we created.
Managerless Oxford did start each half strongly, pressing and attacking but we asserted our passing and positional play at the game worse on.
The semi-final draw will be made on Thursday and plenty in blue will be tuning in to see if we draw Lincoln City, Shrewsbury Town or one of Yeovil or Fleetwood to play their quarter two weeks from now.
Kenedy has taken then well worn path to St James’ Park as he joins Newcastle United on loan.
Earlier, and displaying a now usual level of contempt for the women’s game the FA looked at their incompetent, amateurish behaviour of recent months and appointed Phil Neville as manager of the England women’s team. That the gormless half of the Neville brothers’ comedy duo was even being considered for the role is an huge insult to all the female coaches working in this country. That they would appoint a man, with no previous managerial experience, shows nothing but utter contempt for women’s football.
Wednesday 24 January
Arsenal 2:1 Chelsea
Well, it is only the league cup. Arsenal seem to have found an extra well of enthusiasm, dedication and craft when playing Chelsea that simply didn’t exist before last season’s FA Cup final. In fact if you watch the supine, listless performances against Man City, United and Liverpool and compare those performances to the effort they put in against us, the only conclusion is that if they worked this hard every match they could win the league.
This started brilliantly with Pedro feeding Hazard for the opener after only seven minutes but without Morata we couldn’t sustain pressure and a couple of freakish goals handed the hosts a barely deserved trip to the final.
It used to be that we’d lose at Highbury – -yes, ask your grandfather it did used to happen – by goals that would bounce in off two deflections or bobble over the goal line by accident. Tonight it was a double deflection for their equaliser and another unlucky bounce for their winner.
To judge by the preening self-regard they displayed at the final whistle you’d have thought the eleven on the park had contributed more than lady luck to the outcome.
It will be satisfying the sit back and watch Manchester City tear them apart in the final.
Less than 24-hours into his shiny new job as England women’s manager Phil Neville has been forced to explain why he tweeted that women would be too busy making breakfast, getting the kids ready and making the beds to read his tweets. Phil sought to gloss over this as not a true reflection of his character or beliefs… erm, except it is Phil. When you demean all women with patronising statements like that it holds up a real mirror to who you are. His attempt to distance himself from the tweets it was pointed out that they were made back in 2012… so when he was 37-years-old.
For someone with no managerial experience and the attitude that it is ok to degrade women and joke about beating up his wife to be parachuted by the FA into a post recently vacated by someone who had inappropriate relationships with some of his charges suggests that the FA are either taking the piss or are the most incompetent organisation on the planet. Or are they drunk? A few too many at lunch every day and they are trying to out do each other… “You kno, wha we shud do, hic, make Neville the ladies manager … no, not the talented one… nah, the other one… hic, what is called Fill? That’ll really set their perms”.
Thursday 25 January
Lincoln City away in the semi-final of the Checkatrade trophy. The League Two outfit are currently ninth in the league but have been on the up over recent seasons as Danny Cowley has won praise and promotion to Sincil Bank as the Imps beat Burnley in last season’s FA Cup in a run to the quarter-finals as well as climbing back into the league.
Friday 26 January
The FA Youth Cup game away at Tottenham will be on Tuesday 13 February at the Lamex stadium home of Stevenage FC.
Sunday 28 January
Chelsea 3:0 Newcastle United
This was as routine as you can get as a toothless Newcastle succumbed in meek fashion. This side doesn’t reflect well on either Rafael Benitez or the city. With takeover talks crashing to the ground and little prospect of new signings it is bleak for the Magpies.
We enjoyed the relative ease to win at canter without a host of regulars. Michy Batshuayi prodded us in front after a superb Pedro pass found Eden, he laid off to Alonso who found Batshuayi in space for a tap in. It was poetry on grass. 1-0.
Toni Rüdiger them made a bid for goal of the season but curled his effort just round the post just before Hazard set Batshuayi free again and, although blocked, the power of his shot carried it over defender and goalkeeper for the second. 2-0.
Alonso belted a free-kick into the top corner for 3-0, but the second-half was more about substitutions as we saw another 20 minutes of Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson-Odoi came on for the last ten-minutes. Callum is obviously a little raw but seemed to enjoy his chance as he confidently blooted a few long passes across the pitch.
Ross looked a little closer to the pace of the game than he had on Wednesday but it is all a case of growing his fitness and familiarity with the team.
Chelsea 1:0 Everton
Jonna Andersson scored the goal on her debut that keeps us in contention at the top. We survived a missed penalty to snatch the win with Manchester City on the way on Thursday the real title decider.