Thursday 2 September
Hungary 0:4 England
Bittersweet symphony is driving fans away from England games. Millions were enthused by the team’s performances, the nation came together in celebration of their success and in condemnation of the racist abuse some suffered but the awful screeching theme tune has been the painful introduction to ITV games for nearly a decade. It was dreadful when they first played it and is long past its time.
On the pitch Mason Mount set up the first by running beyond Jack Grealish to square the ball for Raheem Sterling to finish. The tide of racist abuse that followed underlines why the players take a knee. Harry Kane missed a dozen decent chances but did finish for our second and the Hungarian goalkeeper then made he scores look even better by allowing first Harry Maguire’s header and then Declan Rice’s shot through his grasp and in.
The Hungarians were allowed in to the stadium after being banned by Uefa because as a world cup qualifier it falls under the aegis of Fifa. That Hungarian fans are going to be banned for at least two matches by both governing bodies should at least provoke the start of a conversation in Budapest about the acceptability of racist views and behaviour.
Elsewhere, and Romelu Lukaku battered in two as Belgium thumped Estonia on the occasion of his 99th cap.
Timo Werner scored as Germany stumbled past Liechtenstein 2-0
Saturday 4 September
Billy Gilmour played 73-minutes as Scotland beat Moldova 1-0 and could have netted his first international goal had his effort hadn’t flown just wide of the Hampden post. Andreas Christensen played another commanding match as Demark beat Faroe islands and Matteo Kovačić and Croatia drew level with Russia at the top of group H with a late winner against Slovenia.
Sunday 5 September
Arsenal 3:2 Chelsea
The long-awaited start to the WSL and sadly, no improvement on the standard of refereeing. The hapless whistler today missed the glaring offside for their third goal and, while we have seen sensible refereeing in the men’s game since it resumed, in the women’s refs are still under instruction to whistle for every trivial contact and to favour the home side.
Erin Cuthbert scored our equaliser just before the break and Pernille Harder clawed us back into the contest after the offside ‘goal’ but with half an hour still to play the referee blew up for a string of imaginary offenses and every time we built any pressure an Arsenal player would feign injury and the game would be stopped.
There was only one side trying to win the match as a timid Arsenal looked only to play on the counter
“She was two yards offside but we are not at the stage of VAR yet. We should be demanding that … we shouldn’t except lower standards for women’s football. We should demand VAR and goal-line technology”. Emma also said that her squad were behind Arsenal in pre-season as almost our entire squad were at the Olympics and have only had a couple of weeks off during which time Arsenal were playing two Champions League matches.
The Morocco squad were escorted out of Guinea after a coup. Hakim Ziyech picked a good squad to be omitted from as coach Vahid Halilhodzic dropped him before spending the day hunkered down in a hotel with the sound of gunfire ringing around their ears.
England managed to beat Andorra, but only after a frustrating and disjoined display. 4-0 isn’t to be sniffed at but things didn’t really get started until Mason Mount won a penalty with quarter of an hour to go.
Romelu Lukaku scored again, this time against the Czech Republic in a 3-0 win. Armando Broja also netted a winner for Albania against Hungary and Timo Werner scored one and made another as Germany ran in six against Armenia in Stuttgart.
Monday 6 September
Uefa have rejected holding more world cups after wonks at Fifa dreamt up a tournament every two years in order to line their own pockets. Biennial cups would give them twice as many corrupt country selections to run and when you tot up the millions they embezzle from each award, the banks of Switzerland would reap substantial fortunes.
Leave aside the fact that players are already operating at the limit of physical endurance, that the timetable is already full, internationals that used to be on the occasional midweek throughout the season are now piled three-deep in international fortnights or that the Euros would still need to fit into the calendar.
If you thought the greedy incompetence that led to the European Super League was dead and buried this is a timely reminder that we need to remain on our guard.
Christian Pulicic played as the USA drew with Canada. Captain America didn’t play any part in the earlier draw against El Salvador with covid, as the US stumble on their path to the world cup.
Pele is out of hospital after surgery on a tumour. It is good to hear that the old stick is carrying on.
Tuesday 7 September
Billy Gilmour played a superb part in the Scotland midfield as they won away in Austria. The 0-1 keeps Scotland’s hope alive for what was a pretty flat qualifying campaign. Billy has so far has been by far the most productive midfielder in the squad and for a boy who made his first appearance in July that is quite a story. Andreas Christensen played another important role in his 50th cap as Denmark stamped their authority on the group with a 4-0 win over Israel. Matteo Kovacic and Croatia beat Slovenia 3-0.
Uefa have lifted the ban on away fans in Europe this season. The prohibition enforced by covid for the whole of last season was only lifted for the final last term reverts to regional restrictions. So, Chelsea fans will still not be able to travel to Sweden for the game against Malmö in November.
Wednesday 8 September
Poland 1:1 England
Just after Harry Kane looked to have finally done something decent for England and we let in an injury time leveller to burst the expectation bubble. We were going to win the World Cup easily and after the equaliser we will struggle to qualify.
After a quiet first-half generated nothing until after the whistle Kane’s shot was a classy hit but the doom at the final whistle was misplaced, we had largely contained Poland on their own ground in front of 60,000 supporters and were undone by a late scramble.
Wales drew at home with Estonia, Timo Werner and Antonio Rüdiger score as Germany beat Iceland 4-0. Belgium edged Belarus away 0-1 but Romelu didn’t score. Jorginho was captain as Italy dismantled Lithuania 5-0.
Thiago Silva might miss the weekend and the game against Zenit on Tuesday. Fifa have ordered that Thiago and the other Brazil players who did not travel for recent internationals because Brazil is a red-list country are not selected for five days after the end of the international. The five-day ruling has been requested by the Brazilian FA but that is half the time the players would have been unavailable with a 10-day quarantine returning from Brazil. Players from Leeds, Liverpool and both Manchesters are involved and forfeit and 3-0 defeats can be ordered for fielding an ineligible player.
The FA fined Chelsea £25,000 for failing to control their players. The fine relates to the moment after Anthony Taylor incorrectly sent off Reece James and compounded the mistake by awarding a penalty.
That we behaved impeccably in not decking the referee, debagging him and leaving him tied to a lamppost with a bunch of celery sticking out of his arse was not taken into consideration.
Honestly, referees live on a different planet if they call the argument Chelsea players put up against the mistaken card, as out of control.
They get 25,000 V-signs from us.
Those defending the referee say that James clearly made a gesture towards the ball with his arm. But Anthony Taylor wouldn’t know that because he made his snap judgement on a still image. The replay clearly showed the ball deflect onto Reece’s arm and bounce away before his arm moved forward. Taylor handed two FA Cups to Arsenal at our expense, making mistakes so blatant he was either betting on the games or a Gooner or both, and now he robbed us of a player and lead against Liverpool.
We need to investigate why we keep being persecuted by referees: since Lubos Michel and the ghost goal, we had Anders Frisk retire as a referee after sending off Didier Drogba against Barcelona in 2015 and since then we have gone out to Barcelona after the farce of Tom Henning Øvrebrø failing to award any of four clear penalties, Chris Foy taking it upon himself to send off two Chelsea players in a match twice and eight in total, including Eden Hazard for kicking a ball-boy when no contact was made, all the way to Taylor’s performances in two FA Cup finals.
Critics point out that we are making too much of it, that mistakes even themselves out, and while there have been mistakes in our favour as well over the years we haven’t been handed two FA Cups or granted passage to Champions League finals.
Manchester City lost 0-1 at home to Real Madrid as their women miss out on the champions league. They made bullish noises about being able to concentrate on the league.
Thursday 9 September
Christian Pulisic picked up a ‘slight’ ankle knock after being kicked up in the air by Honduras in a 1-4 win for the USA
We will not be going to Japan for the Club World Cup as the recent Olympic host pulled out of staging the competition because of covid restrictions. We qualify as champions of Europe and will have to wait with Egypt s Al Ahly and Auckland City for new hosts to be proposed.
Qatar have hosted for the last two years and as they are hosting the world cup (since the last one) next year
Fifa’s radical plan for a world cup every other year has drawn more scathing responses, Uefa have said they would boycott any new tournament and have clearly been talking with the South American federations in Conmebol. The Premier League alongside 36 European leagues signed a joint letter condemning the proposal and Sebastian Coe pointed to the anger growing amid Olympic and other summer sports.
Arsène Wenger, who is behind these proposals, has copyied the European Super League playbook of dreaming up an absurd plan and announcing it without any form of consultation with the relevant clubs or associations. Gary Linacre said he had talked to Arsène and it is actually possible that he went ahead with this because the former Foxes striker joked that he would love to have a world cup every year.
Friday 10 September
Thiago Silva has been cleared to play tomorrow after talks between Fifa and the Brazilian FA. Chile, Mexico and Paraguay were all trying to invoke the five-day exclusion for players who refuse to join international squads but under covid restrictions the usual rule cannot reasonably be enforced.
Saturday 11 September
Chelsea 3:0 Aston Villa
Romelu Lukaku wasted 15-minutes correcting the absurd stat that he had not scored at Stamford Bridge. Kovačić played the ball through and the big Belgian worked the finish by cutting back inside a defender’s block and finishing comfortably.
Tuchel took some risks with his selection in an attempt to spare the legs of his returning internationals and selected Saúl for his first start, Hudson-Odoi, Chalobah and Thiago Silva. The move had some scratching their heads and fearing a complacent selection of the kind exploited by West Brom last term.
Aston Villa piled on the pressure after we scored and Edouard Mendy had too many chances to remind us that he is an agile and reliable ’keeper.
The second goal was a simple act of poaching as Kovačić stole in to convert Tyrone Ming’s weak back pass.
Villa still strived but Lukaku controlled the ball and picked his spot for a second goal that promises more to come, the power and accuracy were unerring.
Saúl Ñíguez was taken off at half-time, replaced by Jorginho. Tuchel accepted blame for throwing an underprepared player into a difficult match: “He struggled. I take the responsibility for that. I put him into a difficult match after a national break. It was hard for him to adapt to the physicality, and to the intensity and high pressing of Aston Villa … It was a tough one, but I hope he accepts it is my responsibility. In training it looked like he had no problem to adapt, but it was training. The game was very intense today, he had some easy ball losses so that’s why I thought before he loses more confidence I would take him off.”
This win was a significant one, we are the second club to reach the milestone of 600 Premier League wins.
The squad looks like it is still coming together after a difficult pre-season and that Romelu is covering over any cracks. The circumstances suggest that we are getting stronger and heading in the right direction.
Manchester City U23 4:1 Chelsea U23
A thumping is a thumping but Harvey Vale scored a fourth of the campaign and Teddy Sharman-Lowe got the chance to make a string of saves.
Chelsea U18 3:0 Birmingham City
Louis Flowers and Malik Mothersille with two made it four out of four for the U18s .
Sunday 12 September
Chelsea 4:0 Everton
That is better, after the refereeing absurdity of last week the women knuckled down to dominate a poor Everton side. The goals came in the first-half from Sam Kerr and the second by Fran Kirby, Kerr again and Beth England but our dominance was total and, but for an inclination to walk the ball in, we should have at least doubled the score.
Monday 13 September
A video posted after the Villa game showed a moron shouting ‘Fenian’ at John McGinn. Hopefully the abuser can be banned but it is surely time to acknowledge that we still have the occasional mouthbreather who still isn’t going to surrender to the IRA, nearly 25-years after the conflict ended. Online abuse is easier for the abuser to get away with because the online presence is often anonymous. In that context it is difficult to get your head around a wanker who comes to our games, uses abusive terms for Catholics and isn’t the least concerned that he booked his very expensive seat using a credit card and his home address.
We don’t credit the woodentops with much nous but they can usually count along seat numbers and you win a life-ban for being an arsehole.
Tuesday 14 September
Chelsea 1:0 Zenit St. Petersburg
Lukaku’s one chance was taken, with towering authority, on 69 minutes and that was all we needed. And, yes, every year we turn up expecting an exciting game for the first match of the Champions League and every year it is a drab match with little to recommend it.
For all the hard work we put in against a Zenit side already seven games into their season and looking to be on the pace from the start, all it took to unlock them was a simple Cesar Azpilicueta cross that found Lukaku, who found the top corner.
It was a Thomas Tuchel kind of night, solid at the back with a great Rüdiger tackle keeping it 0-0 but Ziyech and Mount were toiling against a well organised Russian back five. Havertz came on for the Moroccan in the second-half and focused our efforts forward but it was a length-of-the-field run from Rüdiger that looked most likely to break the deadlock but the German’s effort slid wide.
At the death there was the traditional scare as Artem Dzyuba fired wide from the first dangerous cross of the night.
The champions of Europe didn’t really look the part tonight but all it takes in September are good group results and this one will do.
Uefa nearly delayed the kick-off awarding a series of gongs, Tuchel got his coach of the year gong, Jorginho player of the year, N’Golo Kanté was midfielder of the year and Edouard goalkeeper of the year.
Elsewhere: Juventus made short work of running up a 0-3 score against Malmö and Manchester United found out that early group stage results can bite you on the behind as Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off and Jesse Lingard played a weak back pass to enable Young Boys to snatch a winner.
Chelsea U19 3:1 Zenit St. Petersburg U19
The Uefa youth League was cancelled last season so this afternoon saw plenty of first appearances and a solid second-half that yielded three goals. Behind at the break to one of the Russian’s only attacks the ball fell to Charlie Webster to level before Zenit lost a player and conceded a penalty, converted by Harvey Vale. Jude Soonsup-Bell completed the scoring on a really positive start for the academy in Europe once again.
There was even time at the end for Vale to demonstrate how to stick a spot kick over the bar.
Wednesday 15 September
Someone robbed Reece James’ place last night while he was playing at the Bridge. The would be yeggs actually manhandled a safe into their car which contained nothing but Reece’s medals – Champions League, Super Cup and Euro 2020 silver.
Plod has yet to confirm rumours the cracksmen were members of the Spurs squad trying to get their hands on medals in a more reliable and direct way than playing up at the Naming Rights Arena in N17.
Thursday 16 September
Nathan Ake scored his first Champions League goal for Manchester City last night and found out that his dad died a few hours later. It is shocking to hear that such a young man could lose his father and our thoughts are with him and his family.
Friday 17 September
Women’s internationals and Erin Cuthbert scored, a rebound from her own penalty, as the Scots impressed in a 0-2 in Hungary. Beth England scored two as England beat North Macedonia 8-0. In other internationals yesterday and today, Sophie Ingle for Wales, Pernille Harder with Denmark, Guro Reiten with Norway, Ji So-Yun with another goal for South Korea, Jonna Andersson, Magda Eriksson and Zecira Musovic for Sweden all played and all won.
Saturday 18 September
Chelsea U18 3:2 Blackburn Rovers U18
The Premier League Cup saw Blackburn arrive with four wins out of four and bundles of form and self-confidence. It was then all the more impressive that we came back from a goal down to lead and then netted a winner after they had pegged us in turn. Malik Mothersille continued his good form this season with the leveller and a late winner. Ronnie Stutter had given us an advantage just after the break.
Blackburn were reduced to ten for the last few minutes.
Armando Broja came on for Southampton as they were denied a clear penalty and the rest of the match against ten-men when Jon Moss went to the monitor to be reminded which side his bread is buttered. The match finished 0-0
Sunday 19 September
With huge sadness Jimmy Greaves’ family announced that he passed away at 81. Jimmy was the greatest player ever produced by our youth system and a goal scorer without parallel in the history of our club. Jimmy started with us as a 15-year-old in 1955 and made his first-team bow in 1957 in Ted Drake’s Ducklings side. He scored 125 goals in 157 league appearances (132 in 169 overall) as a Pensioner moving to AC Milan in 1961 for a season. Nine strikes in 12 games in the Catenaccio 1960s was impressive and Chelsea made a £96,500 bid to bring him back at the end of that season. Instead, he moved to Spurs becoming their record goalscorer.
He finished his career as record goalscorer in the history of the top flight and with Ian St John changed the nature of sports broadcasting. At a time when football fans were being treated as the enemy by the police and the politicians Saint and Greavsie showed that football was no only fun but for everyone.
Jimmy will be greatly missed.
Tottenham Hotspur 0:3 Chelsea
Game Zero – weird that Spurs would sponsor a game that predicted their score so accurately. Forest Green Rovers and Dartford are both streets ahead of holding carbon neutral matches but this was the first in the top-flight.
Given the sombre mood after the death of a player beloved by both clubs it was polite of us to allow Spurs to have some of the play in the first half. It is surprising that more of them don’t walk out early if all they have to watch is a team that works hard for a twenty-minute spell and then folds up like rail seating.
Kepa Arrizabalaga stepped in after Mendy picked up a hip injury in the closing moments of Tuesday’s European action but he barely had a save to make.
Spurs had more of the early play but for all their percentage possession in danger areas we still carved out the better chances. If Mount and Havertz had been on Lukaku’s wavelength we might have led at the break. As it was Tuchel reinforced midfield by swapping Kanté for Mount at half time and after that Spurs barely crossed half way, let alone threatened.
Our opener came after a spell of concerted pressure following the Frenchman’s introduction, a powerful Thiago Silva header from a corner before the diminutive midfield general smashed a shot in off a clever deflection from Eric Dier’s thigh.
The rest of the afternoon was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters but they rarely play in emptying stadiums. We created chance after chance as Werner, Lukaku, Kovačić and almost everyone else in blue had a go. It took a late Antonio Rüdiger swing to add the third.
Spurs were abject, Kane’s only contribution to the afternoon was to plant a long range shot into Kepa’s midriff, they didn’t have anyone on the bench to bring on. For a side that reached the Champions League final two years ago under a progressive coach, playing exciting football they have slumped to a rump. Daniel Levy’s intransigence means they didn’t cash in on a fading Harry Kane to reinvest instead they have an ageing squad, under their seventh choice manager in a passionless naming-rights arena.
We’d feel sorry for them if we weren’t laughing so hard. Top of the league (in alphabetical order).
Chelsea U23 1:6 Arsenal
Another tonking for the stiffs. Jayden Wareham’s late tap in did little to cheer the fans at Kingsmeadow.