Monday 1 February
Nothing in the transfer window at all… Jake Wakely joined Brighton’s U23 on loan, Malik Mothersille – no, we hadn’t either – joined Derby’s academy, Ethan Wady and Teddy Sharman-Lowe both returned from loan and Maria Thorisdottir sign for Manchester United
The press have made much of the £220m we spent in the summer but given that we have had blank windows in three out of the last four that is only a little over £50m per window since 2018.
Tuesday 2 February
Emma Hayes laid into the suggestion that she would take the AFC Wimbledon job. She wasn’t kind in suggesting that she was the manager of elite athletes competing at the top of European competition and that AFC couldn’t afford her.
In a passionate and articulate interview she made the point that women’s football is no longer a subordinate branch of the game but an elite field on a par with the men’s Premier League.
Manchester United put nine past Southampton but their seventh was a ludicrous dive to win a penalty. Already a man down, there was no contact between defender and attacker and yet VAR was happy to confirm. It says something about the calibre of a club that their players choose to dive to win penalties at 6-0 up. The Southampton player was sent off for not contacting Antony Martial.
VAR showed the wrong angle to the ref, Mike Dean, who appeared to be looking at a frozen screen and guessed – incorrectly. Even Dion Dublin on Match of the Day said it wasn’t a penalty.
That referees always help United is established fact but this was absurd.
Wednesday 3 February
Chelsea 6:0 West Ham United
Pernille Harder thrashed in a hat-trick as the women romped into their league cup final.
With Sophie Ingle’s long range drive sneaking under the goalkeeper, Beth England heading in a superb Fran Kirby cross and Kirby put her own name on the score sheet – at the second attempt.
Paul Canoville is seriously ill in hospital. We wish him and his family well.
Thursday 4 February
Tottenham Hotspur 0:1 Chelsea
That only one goal, and that from the spot, settled this didn’t really reflect the dominance of our performance. A touch hesitant on the edge of the box we nevertheless got to that edge over and over again.
The Spurs response was strangely lacking, we are full of new-found confidence but Tottenham looked woeful, abject, unable to string a few passes together. Jose moaned about the penalty but while it was clumsy rather than malicious, it was a foul.
Hudson-Odoi and Mount shone again as our three at the back dominated.
Sunday 8 February
Sheffield United 1:2 Chelsea
When it came the first goal against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea was scored by one of our own. Antonio Rüdiger’s slip didn’t count for much as the industrious Timo Werner set up Mason Mount’s crisp low finish and then ran on to be taken down for a penalty minutes after the United equaliser.
Most of the commentators disagreed with the award declaring VAR to have erred, Werner deemed ‘clever’ for fooling the officials. It just shows that different standards are expected of Chelsea. Werner was clearly tripped, for an unquestionable penalty. What pundits are suffering from confirmation bias, Chelsea players always dive, therefore all penalties awarded against Chelsea are false.
The result came really late busy weekend and digesting it will take a little longer. We move up to fifth and the momentum is with us.
Thomas Tuchel will hope the cold weather continues after we trawled the archives and can confirm that Tuchel is the first Chelsea manager since Danny Blanchflower to sport a combover.
Looking at the grainy black and white images of everyone from John Tait Robertson onward it seems just those two because, arguably, Tommy Docherty actually had some hair. Yes we thought Ron Suart but he was just bald.
Chelsea 1:2 Brighton & Hove Albion
It had to happen sometime. After 33 undefeated the women slipped up. Six changes didn’t help as we appeared to rest players ahead of the Arsenal game. When all we did was lose momentum.
Sam Kerr looped in an early goal but Brighton were tenacious and we were sloppy from a couple of corners.
That Manchester United had already lost to Reading neither softens the blow or will make training any easier this week. Emma was in a bit of a mood when interviewed but we fully expect her sunny disposition will be back by midweek.
Wednesday 10 February
Chelsea 3:0 Arsenal
Emma will have read them the Cobham version of the riot act and got the response she wanted tonight. Pernille Harder shot a brace for her tenth and eleventh of the season. Fran Kirby wrapped things up for her twelfth.
The win takes us three points clear of Manchester United as this was our game in hand. City and United play at the weekend while we travel to Bristol.
The away leg of our Champions League match against Atletico has been switched … to Romania. Spain had place restrictions on English travellers and so matches had to be moved, United’s Europa League Real Sociedad match is being staged in Turin, Arsenal are going to Rome so, why have we to schelp all the way to the national stadium in Bucharest? Schlep metaphorically, obviously, none of us can actually travel.
Thursday 11 February
Barnsley 0:1 Chelsea
Barnsley really put in a shift and ran us ragged at times but we held out and scored as Reece James ran on and crossed for Tammy Abraham to tap in.
There was some redemption for a number of players tonight as Tuchel selected Kanté, Zouma, Gilmour, Emmerson, Ziyech and Arrizabalaga and everyone came through with credit. The Spanish ’keeper made a really good point-blank save from Barnsley’s best chance and, despite a few nervous moments as we played out from the back it was a solid performance.
Many will criticise Chelsea for only getting one at Oakwell but this match allowed Tuchel to cast an eye over the rest of his players and while Barnsley played well, kept the crosses coming and pressured throughout, it was close at times, Tammy headed one off the line but we did not concede. Barnsley served up a battle on a rutted pitch in sub-zero temperatures and we gave as good as we got.
Tino Anjorin had a good twenty-minute cameo, hopefully Frank left Thomas a note explaining that he should nurture the young Dorset lad.
The cup draw, made before the tie was played paired the winners with Sheffield United at home in the quarter-final.
Sunday 14 February
Bristol City 0:5 Chelsea
Neither freezing, sleety rain nor swirling west country winds will deflect these girls from their title bid.
After the upset last week have come two commanding performances, this time the goals came from Fran Kirby with two, Pernille Harder, Same Kerr and Beth England – the usual suspects. There were enough chances to double this score but we mustn’t be greedy. With Manchester City beating United yesterday we opened a five point gap at the summit.
Bristol City played well to limit the damage but will not be looking forward to the league cup final at Vicarage Road next month.
Monday 15 February
Chelsea 2:0 Newcastle United
Much better in the first half and a slew of positive developments, Timo scored, finally, but had to wait for a VAR review but the whole team’s relief at the goal was evidence of how important to the squad the young German has become.
Oliver Giroud owed his strike to Timo’s determination and power and the first-half performance was positive but Newcastle came out after the break and play in our face.
And still we didn’t collapse, we remained strong and the recalled Arrizabalaga pulled off a smart save.
Tuchel has strengthened Frank’s system, forcing the three at the back to work but scoring chances are few and we are not controlling matches or dominating them.
The midfield of Kovacic and Jorginho are functional in defensive roles. They are both superb midfielders but having both of them tied to defending and having Alonso wide on the left with three centre-halves we have too many defensive minded players and none of the creativity that can switch the side from backfoot to front.
Tuchel does seem to be aware of the conundrum but Billy Gilmour was made for this situation and this squad and we need to see more of him.
Tammy Abraham came off after a crunching challenge that didn’t win a penalty. Jamaal Lascelles slashed through the Chelsea striker and did win the ball but made contact with Tammy before he cleared the ball.
Gary Neville even managed to blame Abraham for anticipating contact and therefore the twisted ankle was his own cheating fault.
Tuesday 16 February
Just like the men the women will play Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Atleti Femenino have knock Manchester City out a couple of times in recent years and are one of the toughest draws. City will play Fiorentina.
Wednesday 17 February
The Uefa Youth League has been cancelled. The myriad travel restrictions around the continent mean there is no practical way to hold the tournament. Having already reduced it to a straight knock-out they finally gave up.
Friday 19 February
God smote Gianluigi Buffon for blasphemy but didn’t hand down a ban just a fine. Ludicrous Italian laws from 2010 mean the former national captain will pay around £5,000 for saying ‘porco dio’ to a defender who played him a bad back-pass.
We would like to remind Italian authorities that god isn’t just a pig but an imaginary pig and, if you believe in him just right, he will grant you wishes and let you stay in his sky-sty when you die.
Saturday 20 February
Southampton 1:1 Chelsea
This was a confounding afternoon as we conceded against the run of play, equalised but didn’t really push on. The real conundrum was Callum Hudson-Odoi. Tuchel started without the young winger and our turgid first-half performance reflected the lack of drive. That lack of invention was possibly also down to the Kovacic/Jorginho midfield sheet-anchor continuing but it was notable how much more quickly we passed down the pitch after Hudson-Odoi replaced Tammy Abraham at half-time. Callum played the pass that enabled Mason Mount to win and then convert the penalty, so what happened next was a surprise: Tuchel substituted the substitute
Chelsea U18 1:2 Reading U18
Charlie Webster’s excellent free-kick was cancelled out by the end as rusty Chelsea wasted a host of chances to put the game to bed.
Tuesday 23 February
Atlético Madrid 0:1 Chelsea
This might be the significant result Tuchel has been working towards. Madrid have been in two finals in recent years under Diego Simeone and did for Liverpool in their pomp just before covid struck.
Atlético play on the break and top La Liga, but rarely troubled Tuchel’s disciplined defensive shape. Except for an early instance of our defenders reverting to keystone cops and a dangerous first-half cross we dominated territory and the ball without being threatened.
The goal was a peach of an overhead kick from Oliver Giroud but the VAR intervention robbed the team of the moment of celebration but without it, the offside flag would have done that anyway.
Atlético will feel hard done by because their ‘home’ leg was played in Bucharest and they were missing seven regulars through injury, covid isolation and suspension.
Yellow cards for the peerless Mason Mount and Jorginho means a midfield shake up for the second leg but we should be confident of finishing the job on Wednesday 17 March.
Wednesday 24 February
The women’s away tie against Atlético will be in Monza due to covid travel restrictions… do we have to say that anymore, everything for the last twelve months has been because of covid… the first leg is at Kingsmeadow next Wednesday with the trip to Italy a week later.
Friday 26 February
The FA Youth Cup will resume after a covid pause. Back in December we were waiting for Fylde and Cambridge to play their third-round match and we still are. The remaining games will be played at the end of this month and the next five rounds will be squeezed into April and May.
Anthony Barry has taken up the post as assistant manager of the Republic, he will balance his role at Chelsea with heading off to assist Stephen Kenny during the international breaks.
Saturday 27 February
Norwich City U18 1:2 Chelsea U18
A beauty from Joe Haigh set the tone for the first-half. The youngster chipped the goalkeeper from 25-yards to open the scoring, Jude Soonsup-Bell curled in a free-kick but to be honest for all our domination of chances in the first, Norwich came back at us and it was a determined defensive display to hold on to the points.
Sunday 28 February
Chelsea 0:0 Manchester United
Frank was sacked, ostensibly, because his teams could only manage nil-all draws in games against the top six.
The be fair to Tuchel he met United in their most defensive shape in decades as Solskjær looked frightened to lose. It didn’t help that De Gea had a great day in goals, saving smartly from Ziyech. We made the better chances as all United had to show from the afternoon was a penalty claim.
That VAR intervention led to squarks of displeasure as a referee finally stood up to United. From some angles it looked like Callum Hudson-Odoi handled the ball, Solskjær bleated that it was obvious despite the United attacker’s arm jostling Callum’s arm. The only reason his hand touched the ball was because it was bumped by an opponent and the referee, rightly, turned the appeal down.
It was a good match for N’Golo Kanté who really closed United down in the middle and useful match sharpness for ben Chilwell.