Tuesday 29 October
Plymouth Argyle 0:1 Chelsea U19
We booked our place in the knockout rounds with a more emphatic win than the score suggests. Jon Russell conjured a calm finish in injury time at the end of the match and saved us from a penalty shootout.
Charlie Brown missed a number of good chances as the match wore on but Plymouth, who sit midtable in League Two, made a few chances and Jamie Cumming had to be smartly off his line to deny Billy Clarke in the first-half
Bulgaria have been handed a stadium closure and a small fine for the racist abuse England suffered there earlier this month. Uefa could have made an example of them by excluding them from the next World Cup qualifying but the stadium ban and small fine is really the very least they could do.
Wednesday 30 October
Chelsea 1:2 Manchester United
Manchester United are clearly desperate. These early rounds of the league cup are supposed to be a chance for managers to give squad players and youth a chance to shine. Liverpool and Arsenal made eleven changes each for their game tonight, we made six bringing in Reece James, Marc Guehi and Billy Gilmour, United made one.
They turned up with their first team for a midweek league cup match.
Weirdly PGMOL gave us the incompetent VAR fool who overturned Callum Hudson-Odoi’s penalty and earned him a yellow card as referee for tonight’s match.
Sending biased referees straight back to clubs they have wronged is a really bad idea, especially when Paul Tierney’s main contribution in the first-half is to award a penalty after the slightest contact encouraged the United player to throw himself to the floor. A slighter contact than Hudson-Odoi had against Burnley… but when you are on a roll.
Michy Batshuayi scored a goal almost literally of his own making as he won a header on half way and shot from 25-yeards.
We had been out of sorts in the first-half as our scratch XI tried to find coherence against United’s first team. Our second-half display was much better as we created enough chances to put the match to bed but were beaten by a scorching free-kick that we’ll put down as a fluke until Rashford manages to do that again.
Billy Gilmour moved forwards as the match wore on and had a greater impact on the game as a whole. The young Scot is likely to be the next really impressive player off the Cobham production line.
Overall the winning streak had to come to an end, Frank always seem to regard it as a hoodoo, and the loss frees up a few midweek slots for training and preparation for games in slightly more prestigious cups.
Friday 1 November
Details of the case against Chelsea that lead to the transfer ban have become clearer following Fifa’s publication of the charges on the Fifa legal website.
Their entire case rests on young players invited for trials, which could take a few months and cover a number of matches. There is nothing wrong, within the rules, with that system of inviting triallists and assessing them over a period of weeks.
Fifa got their knickers twisted because of the status of the friendly matches the triallists played. Fifa maintain that matches in the Premier League Games Programme count as competitive fixtures, organised football. The Football Association and Chelsea argue that they are not. The matches are clearly not all competitive as they cover friendly tournaments and futsal matches, U11 to U23 and some internationals.
We are guilty of involving triallists, legitimately, in these games at different age groups but the ban for doing so is an absurd overreaction.
Fifa spewed out some facts in an attempt to discredit Chelsea, 150 rule breaches involving 69 players. Which means we had 69 triallist and they played 150 times. Just over twice each.
One player, probably Bertrand Traore, played 75 matches in three seasons.
Chelsea’s response said: “Such football at the foundation phase (under-nine to under-11) and youth development phase (under-12 to under-16) of the PLGP is developmental friendly training football, formally arranged and structured, with a wide array of variable features.” It is not organised football. But Fifa said that because it is under the auspices of the FA it is organised.
For this we have been handed a fine and a two-window transfer ban. This by an organisation so strict in its application of the law that we are having a winter World Cup in a backwater sheikdom via a voting structure that, if you ignore the multi-million pound bribes, was completely legitimate.
Saturday 2 November
Watford 1:2 Chelsea
Another great attacking performance away from home for Frank Lampard’s team. The only change from the last match was the return of Emerson as we looked for continuity. It meant Hudson-Odoi stayed on the bench in favour of Christian Pulisic.
Tammy Abraham opened the scoring early from a Jorginho pass that had everyone agog with praise.
Captain America scored the second from an excellent move in which Willian drive into space, Tammy Abraham went wide fed the ball back in for a tap-in.
In between we could have had nine. Mason Mount hasn’t scored for a few weeks and he should have had a brace here only to find Ben Forster on brilliant form. One control and volley from Mount took the breath away but the ’keeper was equal to everything thrown at him.
It wouldn’t be a drunken afternoon for the VAR mob without overturning a penalty. We played our way out of the close press that Watford attempted time after time but with only ten-minutes to go Gerard Deulofeu felt Jorginho’s foot tap his ankle but he took a step before throwing himself to the floor. He must have been waiting for the simulation card but instead was awarded a penalty.
VAR last week said there had not been enough contact to cause Hudson-Odoi to go down and this week they watched a clear dive and overturned the on-field umpire (or whatever they are calling them now) for the second week in a row.
Ben foster came perilously close to heading an equaliser with the last action of the match but Kepa Arrizabalaga turn the ball away.
Frank said afterwards that VAR was entering a dangerous place: “Anything that takes that long means they aren’t sure, so why aren’t we using screens on side of pitch? I know is a bit contentious … but if we are saying there are grey areas and we are overturning decisions because one referee somewhere else thinks it was more of a penalty than the referee on the pitch, then I think we are in a really dangerous place … you’re going to be tossing a coin every week.”
Both Liverpool and Man City managed to scrape wins from losing positions against Villa and Southampton respectively. We are up to third until Leicester play Crystal Palace tomorrow.
Lewes 1:2 Chelsea
The women were given a really tough game in the Dripping Pan in Lewes. League cup action and we had made plenty of changes but a strong team took the lead when Fran Kirby played Erin Cuthbert in but Lewes are made of sterner stuff and equalised through Katie Rood’s thundering curler. We had a few chances before Magdalena Eriksson swept in a rebound for the win. It isn’t often any of our teams turn out in a stadium with a grass bank taking up one side of the ground.
Chelsea U23 2:1 Blackburn Rovers U23
Jon Russell gave us the lead after sweeping in a right-wing move involving Tariq Lamptey and Thierno Ballo before Armando Broja punished a loose pass just after Blackburn had equalised. It was harsh on Rovers who worked incredibly hard for their goal only to throw it all away.
Ajax on Tuesday is next up for the academy.
Sunday 3 November
Referees have spent the last ten years telling us that the red cards they issued to Chelsea players were because tackles were reckless and out of control. Even when no contact (Michael Essien against Fulham in 2010) or the slightest brush with no velocity behind it (Gary Cahill against Burnley in 2017) the rationale has always been that the tackle could have broken someone’s leg.
So, when a player does suffer a serious, possibly career ending leg break, the referee awards a yellow. To be fair the tackle by Son Heung-min on Everton’s Andre Gomes was reckless but the injury was the result of Gomes going over on his ankle and his subsequent collision with Serge Aurier.
The card was changed to red but PGMOL said afterwards that the seriousness of the injury was a factor in the decision to change the card. Recklessness used to mean a yellow but now you have to wait for a paramedic’s opinion. You have to question all the years of cautions and cards leading up to this misjudgement.
It isn’t often something is too awful to show replays of and half the players, medical staff and the kids in front few rows of the stand will need counselling.
The incident was so serious it almost detracted from the single worst performance of VAR so far. They took two looks when Song dived in the Everton box. No card was issued for simulation. They then refused a penalty for Richarlison when he was clearly taken down in the box. Dele Alli was let off a clear handball when his hand couldn’t have been in a more unnatural position. And still no one has used the pitch-side monitor.
Earlier and with less drama Leicester City beat Crystal Palace 0-2 to move back above us on goal difference.