Wednesday 1 December
Watford 1:2 Chelsea
Thomas admitted that we were lucky to win this, Mason Mount returning to form with a goal and an assist for Hakim Ziyech’s winner. Watford tested us all evening.
The match was held up for half an hour when a Watford fan suffered a cardiac arrest and was stabilised before being taken to hospital.
After the interruption Mason mount finished a flowing move by side footing home from Havertz’s lay-off.
Watford’s equaliser was first goal we have conceded from open play away from home this season but was deserved.
Claudio Ranieri said he thought his side deserve a point but they couldn’t finish any good situations they created and Hakim found the net from Mount’s cross.
Tuchel was very honest afterwards: “It was a very unusual performance from us. We were not ready. I’m involved in that, I have to get the team ready and prepare them for what’s coming. For the first time we were completely underperforming as a team. We did not cope well with the first balls, the pressure, the second balls.” So, no excuses if we start sloppily at the weekend.
We lost Trevoh Chalobah to injury and Saul to a second half-time substitution in two starts. He looks off the pace and uncomfortable pressing in midfield— but he came from Atlético de Madrid under Diego Simeone, where he did little else.
Worryingly the injuries are mounting up and Tuchel was talking about Saul as a makeshift left wing-back.
Friday 3 December
Derby County U23 3:1 Chelsea U23
Jude Soonsup-Bell scored a screamer to open our account but we couldn’t finish any of our other chances and Derby scored three in as many minutes in the second half.
Saturday 4 December
West Ham United 3:2 Chelsea
No excuses for this defeat as the performance against Watford underlined that we needed to take action. It was a strong starting line-up and performance in the opening exchanges and Thiago Silva nodded us ahead but needed to hack on off the line minutes later.
Jorginho’s casualness cost us another goal today as his soft back pass played Edouard Mendy into trouble.
That Mendy was fouled before the contact that led to the penalty was lost on the person of questionable parentage in the black.
Mason Mount smacked a first-time shot in on the volley to restore our lead before the break.
The break came at a bad time as we looked off the pace in the second-half allowed them an equaliser and their winner was a complete fluke as a mishit cross was shanked into the top corner.
Tuchel was philosophical afterwards pointing out that nobody would have handed us the title if we’d won today.
Chelsea U18 4:1 Arsenal U18
Top of the league and starting to appreciate their position this was a dominant win for the U18s. The goals came from Leo Castledine, Tudor Mendel-Idowu, Malik Mothersille and Louis Flower. We did fall behind early on but equalised almost at once and took the lead a few minutes later.
Arsenal couldn’t live with our pressing or the speed of the passing which was a bright as the sunshine.
We have been paired away to Arsenal in the Papa John’s Trophy knockout round.
Sunday 5 December
Arsenal 0:3 Chelsea
Emma Hayes completed a personal treble in becoming the first English coach to win three FA cups, the team completed the domestic treble of league, league cup and FA cup and we scored three goals against the Arsenal defence previously the tightest in England.
We didn’t just beat Arsenal this afternoon we flattened them. Quick and direct pressing and passing left the Gunners floundering, first in the wake of Fran Kirby’s third-minute opener and the in the second as they could only admire Sam Kerr’s sublime finishes. The Australian legend blasted one in at the near post through the legs of a defender and chipped the other over a stranded ’keeper.
Weird to have the FA Cup final in sleeting rain but normal service is being restored and the women have the chance to become the first team to win the FA Cup twice in one season when the 2021/22 competition resumes next weekend.
Our defence was so dominant that the only thing to trouble Millie Bright all afternoon was the trophy as the lid fell off during the trophy lift and drew blood.
Monday 6 December
Chesterfield, at last, in the FA Cup. The Spireites were within an unawarded goal, it clearly bounced over but before goal-line technology, of beating Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup semi-final and facing us in the final.
That 3-3 draw was one of the best semis in the competition’s history and we were somewhat fortunate to play the Smog Monsters instead.
The World Club Cup will be held in Abu Dhabi in early February. Our semi-final will take place on Wednesday 9 February with the final on the Saturday.
Tuesday 7 December
Mateo Kovačić has covid. It is absurd that a club with a medical department was sophisticated as Chelsea’s haven’t convinced everyone to have a vaccine by now. Already missing N’Golo Kanté and Jorginho ahead of the Moscow game Tuchel now has another, preventable, absentee, who will miss Leeds too.
Wednesday 8 December
Zenit St Petersburg 3:3 Chelsea
This was all set to be Timo Werner’s night as he put us ahead with his first touch and restored our lead with five minutes to go. With Lukaku equalising on the hour Werner’s strike looked to have won us the game and the group.
Juventus struggled against Malmö but a single goal in Turin and the stunning injury time strike from substitute Magomed Ozdoev mean we stumble through in second place.
Thomas Tuchel was clearly frustrated, he said his players had changed their behaviours after taking the lead. Werner helped set up Lukaku and his finish for his second showed why we paid all the money we did. It is to be hoped that he can reproduce this form in the league.
Second in the group isn’t too bad, it just depends on the draw.
Zenit St Petersburg U19 1:1 Chelsea U19
Alfie Gilchrist’s header booked a place in the next round. The festive conditions were difficult and a flag-happy linesman meant we couldn’t score a second. The two heavy defeats to Juventus meant that second place was the best we could hope for and the draw will pair us away to either Hajduk Split, Genk, Deportivo/Maccabi Haifa, Zilina, Empoli, Midtjylland, AZ Alkmaar, Rangers.
Chelsea 0:0 Juventus
The pitch invader was the only real news out of Kingsmeadow as a defensive Juventus came for a point and won one despite 25 shots at their goal.
Sam Kerr was booked for pushing over the pitch invader, who appeared to be trying to take a selfie with Magdalena Eriksson – there is a time and place.
It was a frustrating night for Kerr all round as her best effort was ruled out for offside.
We are still on top of the group and finish against Wolfsburg while Le Bianconere Femminile will beat group whipping-boys Servette by a hatful. (The term is still whipping-boys, whipping-girls would be too much for the old heart to bear)
Saturday 11 December
Chelsea 3:2 Leeds
Chelsea show all of their, ahem, fighting qualities to win this and can thank the gods of football for last minute penalties. Antonio Rüdiger was in full marauding mode all afternoon and while he won two penalties he was out of position on a number of Leeds attacks, his influence almost evened out.
As it was penalties against are still an issue. Last week the West Ham attacker hauled our goalkeeper to the ground to win his penalty today and clear block was penalised for the follow through even though all the momentum came from Daniel James. The striker ran into a perfectly executed block – not a penalty.
Tuchel’s real problems are in midfield where Jorginho is playing with a back injury and Ruben Lotus-Cheek is looking leggy.
Leeds are not what you want when you’ve had so many games already and are missing key-personnel.
The relief came when Werner and Alonso set up Mason Mount and he added to his growing parade of fine finishes for the equaliser.
The first penalty should have been enough but for a well worked equaliser. The fifth time in three games we have let a lead slip conceding eight goals in the process.
The players gathered to show each other their handbags at the end and the FA might have a look at the pushing and shoving.
The win was precious as City and Liverpool managed narrow wins but we keep pace.
Sunday 12 December
Reading 1:0 Chelsea
Emma has little doubt that the cup final and midweek European game meant we were a little burnt out for this fixture. Deanne Rose scored for the hosts after just four minutes and we laboured but couldn’t finish anything. Full-time expert statisticians will need to burn the candle at both ends to tell you when an Emma Hayes side failed to score in two games in a row.
Arsenal extending their lead to five-points in the evening game.
Chelsea U18 4:1 Leyton Orient U18
Goals from Malik Mothersille, Jude Soonsup-Bell, Silko Thomas and Derrick Abu completed a dominant win in the FA Youth Cup. We progress to play Watford away in the fourth round.
Monday 13 December
42 new cases of covid among players, coaches and staff means that emergency measures have been reintroduced. 42 is a record and Manchester United closed their training ground and Tuesday’s match against Brentford has been cancelled.
There is no news on behind closed doors matches… but that feels like a matter of time.
Over in Switzerland and we got Lille in the Champions League draw… only for the exercise to be voided because Manchester United didn’t want to play PSG… or the wrong balls were put in the pot due to a ‘technical’ malfunction.
The exciting wait for the redraw, that could have seen us play
Bayern München or Real Madrid, deflated a little when we were drawn to play Lille, again. Tuesday 22 February for the first, home, leg and Wednesday 16 March for the return in France.
The Emma Hayes and her squad travel to Aston Villa in the FA Cup, which the won last weekend. Confusingly.
Edouard Mendy is Senegal’s footballer of the year ahead of Sadio Mane and Watford’s Ismailia Sarr. It is a timely reminder that we will lose the big stopper in January and February for the Africa Cup of Nations along with Hakim Ziyech, covid permitting.
Wednesday 15 December
Armando Broja flashed in a thirty-yard shot to give Southampton the advantage against Crystal Palace but Conor Gallagher’s Palace fought back for a draw in the most entertaining loan match in agaes.
Thursday 16 December
Chelsea 1:1 Everton
The holes in the squad showed through but we created enough chances to wrap this up by half-time and the way things are going a fluke equaliser was always on the cards.
Without a fit striker Mount, Pulisic and Ziyech swarmed around Everton popping in shots from different angles and constantly pressurising. Mason Mount had a couple of the clearest chances but from point blank found Pickford every time.
The ball just wouldn’t go in and the second-half followed a similar pattern. We had to wait until the 70th minute for Mason Mount to finally break the resistance. He made it four in four and it was another fine goal from a brilliant young player. We shouldn’t let the disappointment of recent result cloud the form mason has found in the last few games.
There equaliser came from an incidental contact rewarded with a free-kick and a good, deep delivery. The scorer just stuck out a hopeful boot.
It was the only real threat on our goal.
If things really weren’t going our way then Dobbin’s dive would have won them a penalty. As it was Pickford turned a Silva header away but another late breakthrough was unlikely two matches in a row.
With Premier League fixtures falling to covid left right and centre we missed Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Romelu Lukaku due to covid and Kai Havertz was feeling unwell but didn’t test positive.
Before the match Tuchel explained the selection process “We did some extra tests at 12 o’clock today, to make sure who is at lunch … and who arrived for lunch from there we had to pick the team.
At the end he didn’t want to blame covid and said “Today we were not in the lead at half-time, obviously, but we could have been in the lead at half-time, easy. ‘We have to be careful now, also myself, because it is easy to point the finger and say it happens again, it happens again, but we have a huge chance to sit here after the same game and talk about a 3-0 and how impressive things are when we miss so many players … It’s a huge possibility because it’s one free-kick and we got punished again. If we look back it seems that it happens too often. We need to consider that sometimes when looking back we also do a lot of mistakes when analysing and finding patterns which are maybe not there. But you can be sure we will not look away, the dressing room is so very disappointed, I’m very disappointed, of course.’
Everton had their own injury problems but couldn’t have complained if they went down four or five tonight. Tuchel might not want to blame the limited squad for the failure but Manchester United and Spurs are having an impromptu mid-season break while we had to name two goalkeepers on the bench to make up the numbers.
It is a little too simple to blame spoilt footballers for failing to get their shots or a richly funded medical department for failing to convince them to be vaccinated, because over half the cases with omicron have been double jabbed.
Wolfsburg 4:0 Chelsea
If it was a bad result of the men it was a catastrophic one for the women.
Emma and the squad will be devastated by this result, they looked dejected in the huddle at the end. A third match in a row without a goal but the defending was awful or Wolfsburg were inexplicably brilliant. They hadn’t shown any of this form before in the group.
We needed to draw or not lose by more than two and the collapse just didn’t make any sense. Total burnout like this is rare and Emma will be determined to bounce back on Sunday against West Ham.
After the match Hayes explained “Our heads were all over the place, we are human beings … A few days ago we had two players stuck down with Covid, we know inevitably that when we land tomorrow there will be positive cases.” The anxiety, allied to absences and illness affected their performance to the extent that Emma concluded “I can honestly tell you that I didn’t recognise my team tonight, I’ve never seen a performance like that from them.”
The Nations League spat out brilliant games against Germany, Italy and Hungary. The matches will be the only warm-ups for the next winter World Cup and while games against the Germans and the chance for revenge against Italy but the inclusion of Hungary means we will have to return to Budapest and the racist abuse that is likely to provoke.
Friday 17 December
The women’s game against West Ham is off after the expected surge in covid cases after testing when they returned from Germany. Emma Hayes predicted the problem in her comments after the game and will be really disappointed that neither the WSL, FA or Uefa are offering any meaningful advice for clubs about what is a developing crisis in the game.
On the men’s side, Kai Havertz trained ahead of the Wolves game on Sunday
Saturday 18 December
Six matches lost to covid today in the Premier League left Soccer Saturday
Sunday 19 December
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0:0 Chelsea
Merry bloody Christmas. “I don’t care so much about the next games I just care about the next tests and the health of the players”.
Chelsea’s request to have this fixture postponed was refused by the Premier League. Thomas Tuchel said he was angry at that decision but with six of the weekend’s Premier League games suspended, angry doesn’t really cover it.
Unable to take any of the U23 squad because they live and train in a separate bubble, we could only name four substitutes.
Jorginho travelled with the rest of the squad in the bus only to then test positive in the morning.
The starting eleven was ok until you realise that N’Golo was forced into the side after only one training session, Kovačić played the day after his ten-day break for covid with no training. Trevoh Chalobah was also only back from injury two training sessions before being forced to play in midfield. We could only make up a team by risking players who shouldn’t have played and therefore it wasn’t unusual that we struggled to make much of the match until Pulisic had a late chance saved. Conor Cody then stamped on Kanté’s ankle in the box but VAR has been at the sherry again and spent all day ignoring the rules… laws of the game. It was a straight red-card and a penalty.
The nil in one part of the scoreline is important but referees falling over themselves to help City with a full squad it will take something to catch them.
That the game shouldn’t have been played is indisputable. Manchester United have been allowed a two-week break while we have been forced to endanger our players and staff. The situation is unsettling for the players as the result our women suffered in Germany proved.
The club said of the refusal to postpone that we made “a strong case regarding the security and health of players … It is very hard to understand it.”
Tuchel added; “We were made to be in the bus and travel together for three hours, were in meetings together, in dinner and lunch – and the situation does not feel like it will stop.
“We end up with players who play coming from injuries and we take the risk.
“I am worried from a medical point of view, we have had four days of consecutive positive tests. How will it stop if we are in a bus together and in meetings together?
“We are disappointed, we are a bit angry.”
After the match he told the BBC “I don’t compare it to other games, it is just out situation. It’s not safe and we are talking about protection of the player in a safe environment and it is not safe.”
“It would be not surprised of the next test show up and we have another positive.”
Manchester City meanwhile, with a full-squad beat Newcastle in the battle of the human rights abusers. If they win the league because of this it should be declared void.
Roman is a European again. Mr Abramovich has been an Israeli citizen since his visa was turned down by the Tories, or he withdrew a visa application following the fallout from the Salisbury poisonings.
Portuguese law offers naturalisation to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian peninsula during the Inquisition and that applies to Roman and his family. The move was happened earlier this year in April.
The new EU passport means Roman will still need to jump the racist hurdles in the points-based post-Brexit immigration system and meet “specific requirements” if he wants to live and work in London.
Weirdly, the denial of his visa back in 2018 halted the rebuilding that would have landed the club with a white-elephant on a similar scale to the Superdome on the Tottenham High Road.