Tuesday 4 January
Romelu has been forced to grovel on social media for the interview he gave being misreported. It is infantilising to make a burley great man like Lukaku go on camera to explain that we might have been upset.
The simple fact is that he didn’t say, in the interview given to Sky Italy, which is on record, any of the things alleged. He is innocent and has nothing to apologise for.
Southampton have been taken over by consortium headed by a Serbian businessman in a £100m deal.
Wednesday 5 January
League Cup semi-final, 1st leg
Chelsea 2:0 Tottenham Hotspur
Starting with an XI designed to rest regulars was a risk but Spurs handed us a two-nil lead as we dominated the first leg in style.
If anything Tuchel will be more delighted at the easy pace of this victory after the weekend’s full-throttle match.
Kai Havertz was at his strolling best in unpicking the Tottenham defence and it was his shot that Davinson Sanchez could only help into the net. It looked for all the world an own-goal but Kai was credited.
The second with five minutes to the break was all of Spurs’ own work – Japhet Tanganga headed a Ziyech free-kick into Ben Davies’ shoulder and thence the net. It was play reminiscent of Zippy and Bungle.
We had so many other chances we should already be at Wembley. As it is Antonio Conte, who left bemoaning how far behind Chelsea his new side is, has a while to plan a famous night at the Tottenham Thunderdome… only if he can stop his defenders scoring in their own net.
The Spurs blunders overshadowed Lukaku’s return from Interview-gate. The Belgian looked to be struggling a little, trying too hard. One header flew just wide and the expression on his face showed just what a good chance it was. He will bounce back.
Before the match both Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kanté tested positive for covid and will isolate for ten-days. But the Liverpool v Arsenal semi due tomorrow has been called off due to a few covid cases in the Liverpool squad. The FA replied to Liverpool’s postponement request “three bags full, sir”.
Thursday 6 January
Jorja Fox will spend the rest of the season on loan at Championship Charlton. The full-back signed he maiden professional contract at the start of the season and is going to gain regular minutes at a competitive level.
Our trip to Brighton has been shifted to Tuesday 18 January. Originally scheduled for early February it has been brought forward to enable our trip to the club world cup.
Kai Havertz looked in pain when he scored yesterday and has broken a finger. It shouldn’t stop him from playing at the weekend against Chesterfield.
Saturday 8 January
Chelsea 5:1 Chesterfield
A more relaxed Bridge enjoyed an afternoon of fine goals but really this was Lewis Hall’s match. At 17-years-old he impressed in a left-back role but found himself running forward and setting up goals for Lukaku and Christensen.
Chesterfield brought about 6,000 who sang throughout and got a cheer at the end with a goal against the run of play. By that stage Thomas Tuchel had used his five substitutes and the result was a little less coherence through the midfield.
Timo Werner was fox in the box in the fifth-minute, Callum curled a beauty in from the edge of the box for our second. Romelu Lukaku wasn’t about to be denied and Christensen headed the fourth before the break.
Chesterfield are leading the National League and looked to have a bit about then and were brave in trying to start attacks but we were five up, through a Ziyech penalty, when five substitutes shook up our rhythm.
Lewis Baker was rewarded for his leading role at the academy this term with 30-minutes starting attacks from the back. Harvey Vale also got another run out.
Sunday 9 January
Plymouth at home in the fourth-round draw. Arsenal were not in the hat after losing to Nottingham Forest earlier, Forest’s reward is a home tie with Leicester. Fulham have the chance to knock Manchester City out at the Etihad.
Edouard Mendy will miss Senegal’s opening Africa Cup of Nations against Zimbabwe with covid. Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly will also miss the match.
Senegal are already six-players short from their squad with the illness and the number of absentees is so high the wisdom of holding the tournament is under question. Organisers insisted that matches must be played if 11 fit players were available even if none of them were goalkeepers. It shows a near criminal disregard for the player’s health and the integrity of football competition.
The winner of Afcon will be the team with the fewest absentees.