Monday 4 September
England 2:1 Slovakia
We made a meal out of this one. Sleeping from the kick-off England contrived to fall behind by playing like a brunch of puppies with a beach ball. That we hauled ourselves back into the match, eventually, owed a lot to Marcus Rashford and luck.
Persisting with two holding midfielders Gareth Southgate watched helplessly as his poorly drilled squad floundered in the opening 20-minutes which the visitors totally dominated. When we did get forward we seemed incapable of finding a colleague as both Rashford and Dele Alli found great positions but no final ball.
The only really bright point of the evening was that the Ox looked just that – £35m of bovine lummox.
Germany with Antonio Rüdiger in their defence beat Norway 6-0 and Tomas Kalas will be spending next summer at the beach as the Czech Republic suffered a humiliating 2-0 reverse to Northern Ireland.
Nigeria had Ola Aina on their bench as his clearance to switch from England came through. Victor Moses played but suffered a late penalty equaliser away to Cameroon. The Super Eagles still top their group and should qualify next month, as should England and Germany.
Diego Costa has not, to the surprise of some, been included in our Champions League squad. It would be reckless to add a player who has, in effect, been on strike for two months in your limited squad for the greatest show on earth.
Jake Clarke-Salter, Charly Musonda and Kyle Scott can all pinch themselves because they are all in.
Northampton Town appointed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink manager today hoping to replicate his success with Burton rather than his stale time at QPR. Our own Jordan Houghton, on loan with the Cobblers will be able to send intelligence reports. The Loftus Road gig was not Jimmy’s fault; he inherited a basket case and left it in slightly better shape. Remember when QPR were richer than us?
Tuesday 5 September
Alvaro Morata scored two more for Spain as they thumped Liechtenstein. He should have had a hat-trick but for a disallowed effort and a string of saves.
Willian scored a cracker with the outside of his right boot as, already qualified; Brazil drew one each with Columbia.
The best game on offer tonight was the England U21 against Latvia as Tammy Abraham and Casey Palmer both scored in a 3-0 win that could and should have been a bigger score. Fikayo Tomori made his debut at this level in defence and looked every bit as good as the much heralded Joe Gomez beside him.
Wednesday 6 September
Maria Thorisdottir has signed for Chelsea from Klepp in Norway. The 24-year-old Norwegian international played alongside new teammate Maren Mjelde at the recent European Championships.
The Qarabag trip is going to be subsidised. The club are chipping in for a Thomas Cook tour to the Far East and a 6,000 mile round trip for supporters.
Thursday 7 September
Sporting Lisbon 1:8 Chelsea
Eight means a great big long list: Fran Kirby and Ramona Bachmann scored in the first then Karen Carney, Kirby again, Ji So-Yun with two and another for Bachmann before Eni Aluko scored the last.
A difficult first-half but whatever they put in the half-time oranges in Portugal did the trick with a six-goal second period.
Weirdly the Premier League clubs have just voted to close the transfer window next summer the day before the season starts. Which sounds great, until you realise that the rest of Europe will be free to plunder your players for an extra three weeks and you have no way of signing replacements. Expect this ill-thought out experiment to last one season as Real Madrid pinch Lukaku from United on deadline day and they spend three months crying about it. Sorry, we are not sure if that is what might happen or what we hope will happen with all our might.
Saturday 9 September
Leicester City 1:2 Chelsea
We have survived the period without Eden Hazard relatively well and the wee Belgian’s reappearance will give fresh heart to the squad, almost the same as a new signing.
Alvaro Morata repeated his heading heroics to give us the lead and his movement and class was again in evidence. We were defensively solid and organised as always with Leicester only able to break against us on a handful of occasions.
N’Golo Kante started the second-half in the mood and his thirty-yard shot somehow eluded Schmeichel for our second. Leicester didn’t really put us under pressure; all the while they had possession you felt we were in control until… Vardy won a penalty and the Foxes thought they might get something.
Until Antonio Conte introduced Hazard and Davide Zappacosta, the ship steadied and Zappacosta and Willian both had chances to bury the game.
The quiet revolution in our midfield means that Tiemoue Bakayoko’s energy and passing means we have not really noticed Matic’s absence
Chelsea U23 2:2 Sunderland U23
Reece James and Josh Grant both thrashed in from the edge of the area to haul us into a lead from one down but, after a fluked opener, they found a powerful drive of their own for a leveller.
Chelsea U18 2:0 Arsenal U18
A totally dominant display was not accurately reflected in the score as Marc Guehi bicycled in his goal and Billy Gilmour struck another in the first-half. We could have had a hatful as we closed Arsenal all over the pitch and created a dozen chances.