Wednesday 3 January
Alex Matos is to join Huddersfield Town on loan. The exciting young midfielder has been on the bench regularly and got on as a late sub when we beat Fulham. He will do well to make a mark at struggling Huddersfield, who face Manchester City in the cup this weekend.

Andrey Santos is coming back from Nottingham Forest after only two appearances from the bench. You can’t ask a Premier League club to guarantee playing time but a fair go should be part of the deal.
Also coming home is Zac Sturge, back from Peterborough after only 13 appearances.

Friday 5 January
The FA Youth Cup tie away to Everton will be on Thursday 18 January. Walton Hall Park if you are making the journey.

Saturday 6 January
Chelsea 4:0 Preston North End
On the day that we marked the anniversary of Gianluca Vialli’s passing a satisfying FA Cup win, with the scoring started by a header to make the old gaffer proud.
A scratchy first half saw a determined Preston defend well and press forward. A second-half towering Armando Broja header changed the tie.
Alfie Gilchrist made a positive full debut in a defence tested in the first period but we created the better chances. Cole Palmer put a great chance wide.
It took the break to change. Malo Gusto’s crossing is getting better and his cross found Broja’s forehead and he flicked his header in off the post. It was a touch of redemption for the forward who has suffered with injuries since his successful loan with Southampton.
Goals flowed after that, Thiago Silva powered in another header from a corner, Raheem Sterling curled in a superb freekick and Enzo Fernandez had his offside corrected by VAR.
Michael Golding got a couple of minutes of the bench replacing Fernandez . The 17-year-old didn’t look out of his depth, pointing often to where the ball should go. One flick allowed Caicedo to play in Madueke and the youngster very nearly got a goal on debut.
Preston and their fans take great credit for singing loudly and taking the game to us throughout. This could be a turning point for Pochettino’s side but we’ve been here before. Deivid Washington also got some minutes.

Spurs, sniffing around Conor Gallagher all week, have agreed a loan deal to take Timo Werner to the Spursdome from Leipzig for the rest of the season. It seems, if they can’t find their own talent, they’ll go after ours.
The deal includes an obligation to buy at the end of the season.

Leicester City U18 2:2 Chelsea U18
While everyone else was busy with the FA Cup the U18s returned from their midwinter break. We beat Leicester in the FA Youth Cup before the break but the foxes made the better start, Tyrique George levelled before the break but it took a Donnell McNeilly equaliser to win a point in the last minute after the award of an indirect free-kick inside the area. No, we didn’t think that happened anymore either.

Sunday 7 January
Bad news from Morocco where Sam Kerr suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during warm-weather training. It is a huge blow to Emma Hayes’ squad. We all know by now that Sam will be out for nine months, so we will not see her again until next season, under a new boss.

Monday 8 January
Aston Villa at home in the next round of the FA Cup. We will be underdogs. The tie might not be on TV because Manchester City travel to Spurs.

Earlier Franz Beckenbauer shuffled off after 78 years. The West Germany and Bayern München sweeper, defined the role in the late 60s and early 70s, so much so that any defender who tried to play the ball out was greeted with the sneer “who do you think you are, Franz Beckenbauer?”.
Manager of West Germany when they beat England in the semi-final in 1990, Beckenbauer tarnished his reputation and legacy by accepting money to award the World Cup to Russia and South Africa and for refusing to cooperate with the enquiry. He got $4.5m for the first $1.7m from South Africa and a CHF7,000 fine for the latter.

Tuesday 9 January
League Cup semi-final, first leg
Middlesbrough 1:0 Chelsea
Another, predictable, flop. This time Caicedo didn’t show the same passion as his opposite number and a simple goal on the break has been the undoing of Pochettino’s team.
We missed a dozen chances but never looked like we had the confidence to score but this was a wounded Boro squad. They were without 12 players before the tie and had two limp out of the game. Given the amount we have spent under the owners this was shameful.
The second leg come after the break but Pochettino’s Chelsea haven’t gelled, haven’t come up with a solution to the problem they’ve had all season and are not improving.

Chelsea U21 1:1 Valencia U21
A frustrating night as we bow out of the Premier League International Cup. We took the lead with a Jimmy Jay-Morgan penalty but we couldn’t take any of a dozen chances and they scored when a poor back pass fed them in.
The competition has been valuable experience but the coaches will be a little disappointed that we haven’t been able to impose our football on any of the continental visitors.

Rumour is that Ian Maatsen has or will sign a two-year contract extension and verbally agreed a loan to Borussia Dortmund, with no obligation to buy. The left-back is one of the best footballers we have produced in recent years and should be a first-team regular. Pochettino clearly doesn’t rate the 21-year-old but Dortmund’s interest clearly proves him wrong. Instead of integrating a great young player we have been forced to use the unreliable Marc Cucurella.
The owners tried to dump him on Burnley for £31m in the summer and for some fans Ian has become a sign of what is wrong under the owners.

Wednesday 10 January
Nathalie Björn has signed from Everton on a three-and-half-year deal. The Swedish defender joins her compatriots Zecira Musovic and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd in our defence. She is Chelsea’s first signing of the window.

Fulham led their League Cup semi for most of the game but Liverpool fought back to take the first leg at Anfield. The West London final is still on, just.

Ian Maatsen has had a medical ahead of his move to the Westfalenstadion. It will be good to have another reason to watch Bundesliga highlights.

Thursday 11 January
David Datro Fofana has been recalled from his loan to Union Berlin. He has made 17 appearances for the Iron, four of them in the Champions League. But it has been a struggle. Last season’s surprise package, Union have slumped down the table, lost their manager and, despite decent performances, dropped out of Europe.
Th Ian Maatsen deal was delayed until Fofana was back because clubs have a limited number of international loans.

Young ’keeper, Jamie Cumming, has joined Oxford United on loan. The move could be very good for the young stopper and might become permanent.

Friday 12 January
Chelsea U21 3:2 Manchester United U21
A bunch of U18s tonight and a thrilling ride, if you can call throwing it all away and nicking it back a thrill.
A tight first half tipped our way when Donnell McNeilly slammed one off the bar and a linesman decided it had crossed the line. The same player then headed in a Zac Sturge cross for a deserved lead.
Throwing it away started early in the second as we watched them into the box and a goal back for Shola Shoretire and the same player levelled a few minutes later.
Tyrique George came on and restored some order, making a few chances and thumping a winner right at the death.

Saturday 13 January
Chelsea 1:0 Fulham
Fulham’s last victory at Stamford Bridge was in 1979 and they didn’t look like taking anything this afternoon.
Cole Palmer converted the penalty when Sterling had been fouled and that was about that.
Fulham rarely threatened as we fashioned the better chances. Conor Gallagher curled and effort off the outside of his right boot but off the face of the post.
It wasn’t a classic, Fulham, after their midweek at Anfield, seemed to have little left for a local derby. Even after Malo Gusto went through Willian just above the ankle, VAR didn’t think it a red.

Sunday 13 January
Chelsea 3:1 West Ham United
(after extra-time)
Falling behind to West Ham wasn’t in the script but Viviane Asseyi’s speculative shot crept in and we spent the rest of the match trying, trying everything, to get an equaliser. Lauren James had her sights too high all afternoon, headers hit the side netting, crosses fizzed across, saves, scrambled clear, woodwork but Mia Fishel finally turned and thumped in an equaliser.
We had twenty minutes to try for a winner but extra-time saw Erin Cuthbert head us into a lead and Aggie Beever-Jones crossing for Sjoeke Nüsken to finish.
It was a battling return after the break but we will need to find fluency quickly with four more games between now and the end of the month. Nathalie Björn made a quick debut and looked the part.
The draw is on Monday evening.

David Fofana has signed for Burnley on loan for the rest of this campaign. The Ivorian didn’t have the best time in Berlin and will be hoping for more time on the pitch.

Monday 15 January
The women will play Crystal Palace at home in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Arsenal against Manchester City will be the televised game. Weekend of the 10-12 February for the ties.

Lamine Camara stole the headlines with two goals in a 3-0 win over Gambia, as holder Senegal started their defence of the Africa Cup of Nations. Nicolas Jackson had a half hour as sub and controlled one chance well but the chance was blocked.

Everton and Nottingham Forest have been charged with breaches of FFP by the Premier League. Profitability and sustainability rules stipulate that clubs must not lose more than £105m over a three-year period.
Forest have only been up for two seasons but the Premier League have passed the case to the notorious ‘independent’ commission.
Forest are likely to work with the commission but Everton have already been fined and sanctioned for this period. The Toffees said that their accounts submitted are subject to change pending the outcome of their appeal against the 10-point deduction. Meaning the Premier League appear to be trying them twice for the same offence.
It has been pointed out that an independent commission, chosen by the league, with terms and remit dictated by the league cannot be described as independent.

Tuesday 16 January
Jose Mourinho is available again as Roma lost patience with the club in ninth, with just one win in five. Our former guru had to watch as his side lost a derby cup game against Lazio and a capitulation against Milan was the last act of a two-and-a-half-year relationship that brought the Europa conference league title and a final in the Europa League the next season.

Wednesday 17 January
Tomorrow’s FA Youth Cup game against Everton has been moved to Sunday due to a frozen pitch.

Thursday 18 January
Aimee Claypole, who signed professional terms in November, is going on loan to Lewes on loan. Aimee is a prolific striker and a good reason to watch the Rooks in the women’s championship.

Friday 19 January
Cesare Casadei has been hoiked out of the Leicester squad as his loan has been hastily cancelled. Cesare was doing really well, three goals in in 25 appearances, and while he clearly impressed Pochettino in pre-season, it isn’t clear how interrupting his season will help his development. Either he joins the first-team squad and plays or the decision makes no sense.
The top of the table clash with Ipswich is on Monday. A reputation for leaving loan clubs in the lurch isn’t hard to get.

Nicolas Jackson came on as a sub as Senegal beat Cameroon 3-1. The Chelsea man controlled a long ball and fed Idrissa Gueye to set up the third, clinching, Mane goal.

Niamh Charles put her name to a two-year contract extension. With us since a move from Liverpool in 2020, Niamh will now be Blue until 2027.

Sunday 21 January
Chelsea 3:1 Manchester United
Lauren James cannot put a foot wrong, another Stamford Bridge hattrick sank a weak United.
If it took us an hour to get started last week, we were straight out of the blocks today. Passing through United, we worked the ball to James who didn’t hesitate. Lauren celebrated in front of United fans who had been giving her stick.
The second was elegant simplicity and probably the pick, a lofted ball saw James finish on the half volley as the visitors looked stunned.
The goal back was a shock as, completely against the run of play, the ball fell to Ladd for a tap in after a Garcia shot had been blocked.
We responded with a second half of fewer chances but Lauren James cannot be stopped and another Nüsken pass was controlled beyond Le Tissier and finished across Earps.
Kingsmeadow is much loved but the women really fit at Stamford Bridge.
There was a ‘Skinner Out’ banner in the crowd and the charmless United manager actually had a go at the officials at the end. They didn’t cost his side, his failure to get a coherent performance from some of the most expensive players in the history of the women’s game is down entirely to him.

Everton U18 0:2 Chelsea U18
FA Youth Cup fourth round and a tough night saw an impressive away performance.
A tough opening, playing into the latest storm we lost Kaiden Wilson to a red for deny a clear goalscoring opportunity. It meant we had to be disciplined and hardworking. And we were. Donnell McNeilly opened the scoring from a swift passing movement and Ishé Samuels-Smith cross.
Everton continued to make chances but Tyrique George finished his, off both posts, to end the tie.
Showing personality and cohesion against the odds, in difficult conditions is very good for team building and Hassan Sulaiman is building character. This could be a good season.
Away at Palace in the next round.

Monday 22 January
His name is Tommy Baldwin and he’s the leader of the team, What team?
Tommy Baldwin has left us at the age of 78. All the old guys in the Matthew Harding will tell you what a player he was. Tommy was part exchange for George Graham when Stroller moved to Arsenal in 1966. Nobody ever seemed to hold that against him, possibly because he was a Geordie. A mainstay in the glamorous sides of the 60s and early 70s. He played 291 games and score 93 goals. He also worked behind the scenes as a match day host, he will be missed.

Chelsea U21 4:1 Colchester United U21
Frankie Runham, Michael Golding, Zain Silcott-Duberry and an own-goal as we tidied up the PL Cup group.

Diego Moreira has been recalled from his Lyon loan. The young Portuguese made only nine appearance in a poor start to the season for Lyon.

Teddy Sharman-Lowe is also back from Bromley, where he didn’t really get a chance.

Tuesday 23 January
Chelsea 6:1 Middlesbrough
(Chelsea win 6-2 on aggregate)
This was more like it. Tension eased as Broja had the ball taken off his toe for own-goal, Enzo lashed in, Alex Disasi showed good control for a defender and Cole Palmer wrapped up a great first-half.
Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling were both really good on the night and Chilwell’s 65-minutes a good test of his hamstrings.
It helped that Middlesbrough were missing Isaiah Jones and looked nervous and blundered several times. Second half strikes from Palmer for his second and Madueke almost completed the scoring but for a late Rogers strike to give the noisy travelling fans something to cheer.
Leo Castledine got a late taste of the Bridge
Sunday 25 February at Wembley, wear your smartest gear.
Fingers crossed for a west London derby.

Wednesday 24 January
Chelsea 2:1 Real Madrid
The important news is that we have qualified for the quarter finals as group winners – Häcken and Paris drew their match nil-each earlier this evening – despite making a meal of it.
Emma said it was a boring match afterwards but it was more of a slog than that. We dominated possession, created chances but got to the hour before a Guro Reiten penalty got us ahead.
We then conceded from the only real chance only for Erin Cuthbert force the ball in off their goalkeeper. It was credited as an own goal.
The side will be content with the result rather than the performance and we might rest a few in the last match away in Paris next Tuesday.

Fulham caused Liverpool a few problems, scored a late goal but couldn’t force a leveller, so it is the Reds at Wembley, again, instead of the Cottagers.

Friday 26 January
Chelsea 0:0 Aston Villa
Possibly to be expected in a second men’s first team game inside three days but we didn’t look sharp tonight.
Villa had the ball in the net early but VAR decided it was handled. Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer had really good chances smothered in the first half.
Palmer had a clearer chance in the second but scuffed his effort as we tailed off.
Djordje Petrovic, who has been solid since he came in, had to be sharp to deny the visitors at the close but we rode it out. Villa will have home advantage in a replay but we cannot look as tired again.

Emma has added the striker Mayra Ramirez from Levante. Sam Kerr’s injury led the club to seek another forward. The Colombian forward cost a reported £384,000 and for that you’d expect a reincarnation of joining the Blues from Spanish side Levante

Saturday 27 January
Brighton & Hove Albion 0:3 Chelsea
Another frustrating first half, was forgotten at the start of the second as Lauren James flashed in a volley that took the breath away. It was superb, from Niamh Charles cross.
Fran Kirby headed us further ahead from a corner before Lauren lashed in another, first-time shot from a deflected clearance. The world is at her feet at the moment.

Chelsea U21 3:2 Reading U21
A Jimmy-Jay Morgan hattrick saw of a dangerous and determined Reading. For all the chaos at that club their academy appears in good shape. They took the lead after an early penalty and deserved something. But Morgan wasn’t in the mood to let them.

Sunday 28 January
The fifth-round draw pits the winner of Chelsea against Aston Villa against the winners of Leeds United and Plymouth Argyle. It has been years since we played Plymouth but Chelsea and Leeds United in the FA Cup is a certain thing. If we get past Villa.

Monday 29 January
Plod ordered our League Cup final against Liverpool to kick off at 3pm. Traditionalist will be pleased but the Wolves against Sheffield United match will then overlap with the final.

The official word is that the Met are worried that a later kick-off will mean scuffles between supporters. Despite the fact that there have never been any serious trouble at a club cup final since 1923.

The hour-and-a-half change seem trivial an unnecessary but reflects a disturbing trend in police thinking. This match is designated ‘high-risk’ but on flimsy grounds. There have been dozens of matches between the two clubs without major incident in recent years. We don’t love Liverpool but generally both sets of fans are well behaved and respectful.

Elements within the police have been seeking to re-demonise football fans. They will not rest until they can treat the football public as an enemy again.
The Daily Mail have been running a snide campaign against football fans. The culture war needs new soldiers and hatred of football fans is a kneejerk for the Mail. They even stooped to quoting one of their own staff, Ian Ladyman, as an expert condemning football hooliganism on his podcast.

Nicolas Jackson will be coming home early as Cote d’Ivoire beat Senegal in a penalty shootout. Jackson was a second half substitute but didn’t have any clear chances.

Tuesday 30 January
Paris FC 0:4 Chelsea
Fran Kirby headed us into an early lead and it was straightforward from there. Paris worked really hard, but were shocking at the back as Mia Fishel, Guro Reiten and Maren Mjelde tapped in easy chances. We had four chances on target and scored them all.
Paris had put out Arsenal and Wolfsburg on the way to the group stage but didn’t perform. BK Häcken beat Real Madrid in the other game in the group.
The draw is next Tuesday.

Wednesday 31 January
Liverpool 4:1 Chelsea
This was such an embarrassing capitulation that the Reds missed a penalty and had a player hit the woodwork four times in a match.
Starting without a striker was huge mistake.
Nkunku’s well taken goal was the only bright moment on an evening when a young collection of individuals failed on a night when Conor Bradley (20) scored one and set up two and Spurs’ young team, playing attractive attacking football, got the better of Brentford. While we flounder six-months into a season. We should have had two penalties but that cannot disguise the fact that we have no direction.
Wembley for the League Cup could be a shambles if we play like this.
Pochettino said afterwards, “They were more aggressive than us. They were better than us in all areas.
“We need to improve and we need to push ourselves a little bit more. We have to learn. If we want to compete … we have to raise our level.”
Worrying that he has only just noticed when it has been clear from the stands since August.

Jessie Fleming left us for the Portland Thorns. Jessie signed in 2020 and scored important goals along the way to 111 appearances. A Canada international and Olympic gold medallist. She was a really good player but £250,000 is a wedge in this game.

Thursday 1 February
After all the recent spending, and points deductions for FFP infractions, it is hardly a surprise that every club has reigned in spending.
Armando Broja has been touted to anyone who would spend and because no one is, he will spend the rest of the season across Bishops Park at the Cottage. Well, deal-sheets have been submitted, he has passed a medical but we’ll have to wait for the early hours for confirmation.
It is not immediately clear how the potential £4m loan fee will balance the books. Fulham have beaten us down to paying the whole fee only if Broja plays most of the remaining games his season.

Andrey Santos has been shuffled off to Racing. After a woeful loan to Forest, he should at least get match time in Strasbourg.

Friday 2 February
… Armando Broja is a Fulham player for the rest of the season. The deal done in the wee-small, while sensible people sleep.

Chelsea U21 3:3 Leeds United U21
This is actually the end of the PL2 Cup group stage. Zain Silcott-Duberry opened the scoring and Jimmy-Jay Morgan scored the other two – he usually does. Leeds hit a couple of belters themselves in an entertaining run out.

Millwall beat Coventry in the FA Youth Cup. Which means we will play them, away, if we beat Crystal Palace. We aren’t sure if we’ve ever had an FA Youth Cup campaign without a home game.

Saturday 3 February
Chelsea U18 1:2 Leicester City
A very frustrating exit from the U18 Premier League Cup. Reiss Russell-Denny put us ahead in a mixed first half. But Leicester hit us with two in quick… Once Donnell McNeilly was sent off there wasn’t a way back. It wasn’t clear what the red card was for.

Sunday 4 February
Chelsea 3:0 Everton
A couple of penalties saw us ahead of an incredibly hard-working Everton. Guro Reiten slotted both. A late super strike from Erin Cuthbert gave the crowd a real goal to cherish as we one-touched our way into space.
Mayra Ramírez made a real contribution on her first start, powerful and quick she won one of the penalties, even if she wasn’t exactly fouled.
The first penalty was also controversial, although VAR might have issued a red card as well for a follow through.
Everton’s manager did walk for two yellow cards. Oddly the Toffees actually had a lot to take away from the match.
League Cup action against Sunderland next for Emma Hayes’ side.

Chelsea 2:4 Wolverhampton Wanderers
There isn’t much left to say. Being thrashed at Anfield is shameful but being humiliated by Wolves at home is beyond even that. Anger at the owners, the money spent, the vandalism, the wreckage of the culture of the club, cannot change anything in the short term. This is where the owners have taken us. It is a deliberate project but one that appears to be going nowhere.
Diary January 2024

Wednesday 3 January
Alex Matos is to join Huddersfield Town on loan. The exciting young midfielder has been on the bench regularly and got on as a late sub when we beat Fulham. He will do well to make a mark at struggling Huddersfield, who face Manchester City in the cup this weekend.

Andrey Santos is coming back from Nottingham Forest after only two appearances from the bench. You can’t ask a Premier League club to guarantee playing time but a fair go should be part of the deal.
Also coming home is Zac Sturge, back from Peterborough after only 13 appearances.

Friday 5 January
The FA Youth Cup tie away to Everton will be on Thursday 18 January. Walton Hall Park if you are making the journey.

Saturday 6 January
Chelsea 4:0 Preston North End
On the day that we marked the anniversary of Gianluca Vialli’s passing a satisfying FA Cup win, with the scoring started by a header to make the old gaffer proud.
A scratchy first half saw a determined Preston defend well and press forward. A second-half towering Armando Broja header changed the tie.
Alfie Gilchrist made a positive full debut in a defence tested in the first period but we created the better chances. Cole Palmer put a great chance wide.
It took the break to change. Malo Gusto’s crossing is getting better and his cross found Broja’s forehead and he flicked his header in off the post. It was a touch of redemption for the forward who has suffered with injuries since his successful loan with Southampton.
Goals flowed after that, Thiago Silva powered in another header from a corner, Raheem Sterling curled in a superb freekick and Enzo Fernandez had his offside corrected by VAR.
Michael Golding got a couple of minutes of the bench replacing Fernandez . The 17-year-old didn’t look out of his depth, pointing often to where the ball should go. One flick allowed Caicedo to play in Madueke and the youngster very nearly got a goal on debut.
Preston and their fans take great credit for singing loudly and taking the game to us throughout. This could be a turning point for Pochettino’s side but we’ve been here before. Deivid Washington also got some minutes.

Spurs, sniffing around Conor Gallagher all week, have agreed a loan deal to take Timo Werner to the Spursdome from Leipzig for the rest of the season. It seems, if they can’t find their own talent, they’ll go after ours.
The deal includes an obligation to buy at the end of the season.

Leicester City U18 2:2 Chelsea U18
While everyone else was busy with the FA Cup the U18s returned from their midwinter break. We beat Leicester in the FA Youth Cup before the break but the foxes made the better start, Tyrique George levelled before the break but it took a Donnell McNeilly equaliser to win a point in the last minute after the award of an indirect free-kick inside the area. No, we didn’t think that happened anymore either.

Sunday 7 January
Bad news from Morocco where Sam Kerr suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during warm-weather training. It is a huge blow to Emma Hayes’ squad. We all know by now that Sam will be out for nine months, so we will not see her again until next season, under a new boss.

Monday 8 January
Aston Villa at home in the next round of the FA Cup. We will be underdogs. The tie might not be on TV because Manchester City travel to Spurs.

Earlier Franz Beckenbauer shuffled off after 78 years. The West Germany and Bayern München sweeper, defined the role in the late 60s and early 70s, so much so that any defender who tried to play the ball out was greeted with the sneer “who do you think you are, Franz Beckenbauer?”.
Manager of West Germany when they beat England in the semi-final in 1990, Beckenbauer tarnished his reputation and legacy by accepting money to award the World Cup to Russia and South Africa and for refusing to cooperate with the enquiry. He got $4.5m for the first $1.7m from South Africa and a CHF7,000 fine for the latter.

Tuesday 9 January
League Cup semi-final, first leg
Middlesbrough 1:0 Chelsea
Another, predictable, flop. This time Caicedo didn’t show the same passion as his opposite number and a simple goal on the break has been the undoing of Pochettino’s team.
We missed a dozen chances but never looked like we had the confidence to score but this was a wounded Boro squad. They were without 12 players before the tie and had two limp out of the game. Given the amount we have spent under the owners this was shameful.
The second leg come after the break but Pochettino’s Chelsea haven’t gelled, haven’t come up with a solution to the problem they’ve had all season and are not improving.

Chelsea U21 1:1 Valencia U21
A frustrating night as we bow out of the Premier League International Cup. We took the lead with a Jimmy Jay-Morgan penalty but we couldn’t take any of a dozen chances and they scored when a poor back pass fed them in.
The competition has been valuable experience but the coaches will be a little disappointed that we haven’t been able to impose our football on any of the continental visitors.

Rumour is that Ian Maatsen has or will sign a two-year contract extension and verbally agreed a loan to Borussia Dortmund, with no obligation to buy. The left-back is one of the best footballers we have produced in recent years and should be a first-team regular. Pochettino clearly doesn’t rate the 21-year-old but Dortmund’s interest clearly proves him wrong. Instead of integrating a great young player we have been forced to use the unreliable Marc Cucurella.
The owners tried to dump him on Burnley for £31m in the summer and for some fans Ian has become a sign of what is wrong under the owners.

Wednesday 10 January
Nathalie Björn has signed from Everton on a three-and-half-year deal. The Swedish defender joins her compatriots Zecira Musovic and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd in our defence. She is Chelsea’s first signing of the window.

Fulham led their League Cup semi for most of the game but Liverpool fought back to take the first leg at Anfield. The West London final is still on, just.

Ian Maatsen has had a medical ahead of his move to the Westfalenstadion. It will be good to have another reason to watch Bundesliga highlights.

Thursday 11 January
David Datro Fofana has been recalled from his loan to Union Berlin. He has made 17 appearances for the Iron, four of them in the Champions League. But it has been a struggle. Last season’s surprise package, Union have slumped down the table, lost their manager and, despite decent performances, dropped out of Europe.
Th Ian Maatsen deal was delayed until Fofana was back because clubs have a limited number of international loans.

Young ’keeper, Jamie Cumming, has joined Oxford United on loan. The move could be very good for the young stopper and might become permanent.

Friday 12 January
Chelsea U21 3:2 Manchester United U21
A bunch of U18s tonight and a thrilling ride, if you can call throwing it all away and nicking it back a thrill.
A tight first half tipped our way when Donnell McNeilly slammed one off the bar and a linesman decided it had crossed the line. The same player then headed in a Zac Sturge cross for a deserved lead.
Throwing it away started early in the second as we watched them into the box and a goal back for Shola Shoretire and the same player levelled a few minutes later.
Tyrique George came on and restored some order, making a few chances and thumping a winner right at the death.

Saturday 13 January
Chelsea 1:0 Fulham
Fulham’s last victory at Stamford Bridge was in 1979 and they didn’t look like taking anything this afternoon.
Cole Palmer converted the penalty when Sterling had been fouled and that was about that.
Fulham rarely threatened as we fashioned the better chances. Conor Gallagher curled and effort off the outside of his right boot but off the face of the post.
It wasn’t a classic, Fulham, after their midweek at Anfield, seemed to have little left for a local derby. Even after Malo Gusto went through Willian just above the ankle, VAR didn’t think it a red.

Sunday 13 January
Chelsea 3:1 West Ham United
(after extra-time)
Falling behind to West Ham wasn’t in the script but Viviane Asseyi’s speculative shot crept in and we spent the rest of the match trying, trying everything, to get an equaliser. Lauren James had her sights too high all afternoon, headers hit the side netting, crosses fizzed across, saves, scrambled clear, woodwork but Mia Fishel finally turned and thumped in an equaliser.
We had twenty minutes to try for a winner but extra-time saw Erin Cuthbert head us into a lead and Aggie Beever-Jones crossing for Sjoeke Nüsken to finish.
It was a battling return after the break but we will need to find fluency quickly with four more games between now and the end of the month. Nathalie Björn made a quick debut and looked the part.
The draw is on Monday evening.

David Fofana has signed for Burnley on loan for the rest of this campaign. The Ivorian didn’t have the best time in Berlin and will be hoping for more time on the pitch.

Monday 15 January
The women will play Crystal Palace at home in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Arsenal against Manchester City will be the televised game. Weekend of the 10-12 February for the ties.

Lamine Camara stole the headlines with two goals in a 3-0 win over Gambia, as holder Senegal started their defence of the Africa Cup of Nations. Nicolas Jackson had a half hour as sub and controlled one chance well but the chance was blocked.

Everton and Nottingham Forest have been charged with breaches of FFP by the Premier League. Profitability and sustainability rules stipulate that clubs must not lose more than £105m over a three-year period.
Forest have only been up for two seasons but the Premier League have passed the case to the notorious ‘independent’ commission.
Forest are likely to work with the commission but Everton have already been fined and sanctioned for this period. The Toffees said that their accounts submitted are subject to change pending the outcome of their appeal against the 10-point deduction. Meaning the Premier League appear to be trying them twice for the same offence.
It has been pointed out that an independent commission, chosen by the league, with terms and remit dictated by the league cannot be described as independent.

Tuesday 16 January
Jose Mourinho is available again as Roma lost patience with the club in ninth, with just one win in five. Our former guru had to watch as his side lost a derby cup game against Lazio and a capitulation against Milan was the last act of a two-and-a-half-year relationship that brought the Europa conference league title and a final in the Europa League the next season.

Wednesday 17 January
Tomorrow’s FA Youth Cup game against Everton has been moved to Sunday due to a frozen pitch.

Thursday 18 January
Aimee Claypole, who signed professional terms in November, is going on loan to Lewes on loan. Aimee is a prolific striker and a good reason to watch the Rooks in the women’s championship.

Friday 19 January
Cesare Casadei has been hoiked out of the Leicester squad as his loan has been hastily cancelled. Cesare was doing really well, three goals in in 25 appearances, and while he clearly impressed Pochettino in pre-season, it isn’t clear how interrupting his season will help his development. Either he joins the first-team squad and plays or the decision makes no sense.
The top of the table clash with Ipswich is on Monday. A reputation for leaving loan clubs in the lurch isn’t hard to get.

Nicolas Jackson came on as a sub as Senegal beat Cameroon 3-1. The Chelsea man controlled a long ball and fed Idrissa Gueye to set up the third, clinching, Mane goal.

Niamh Charles put her name to a two-year contract extension. With us since a move from Liverpool in 2020, Niamh will now be Blue until 2027.

Sunday 21 January
Chelsea 3:1 Manchester United
Lauren James cannot put a foot wrong, another Stamford Bridge hattrick sank a weak United.
If it took us an hour to get started last week, we were straight out of the blocks today. Passing through United, we worked the ball to James who didn’t hesitate. Lauren celebrated in front of United fans who had been giving her stick.
The second was elegant simplicity and probably the pick, a lofted ball saw James finish on the half volley as the visitors looked stunned.
The goal back was a shock as, completely against the run of play, the ball fell to Ladd for a tap in after a Garcia shot had been blocked.
We responded with a second half of fewer chances but Lauren James cannot be stopped and another Nüsken pass was controlled beyond Le Tissier and finished across Earps.
Kingsmeadow is much loved but the women really fit at Stamford Bridge.
There was a ‘Skinner Out’ banner in the crowd and the charmless United manager actually had a go at the officials at the end. They didn’t cost his side, his failure to get a coherent performance from some of the most expensive players in the history of the women’s game is down entirely to him.

Everton U18 0:2 Chelsea U18
FA Youth Cup fourth round and a tough night saw an impressive away performance.
A tough opening, playing into the latest storm we lost Kaiden Wilson to a red for deny a clear goalscoring opportunity. It meant we had to be disciplined and hardworking. And we were. Donnell McNeilly opened the scoring from a swift passing movement and Ishé Samuels-Smith cross.
Everton continued to make chances but Tyrique George finished his, off both posts, to end the tie.
Showing personality and cohesion against the odds, in difficult conditions is very good for team building and Hassan Sulaiman is building character. This could be a good season.
Away at Palace in the next round.

Monday 22 January
His name is Tommy Baldwin and he’s the leader of the team, What team?
Tommy Baldwin has left us at the age of 78. All the old guys in the Matthew Harding will tell you what a player he was. Tommy was part exchange for George Graham when Stroller moved to Arsenal in 1966. Nobody ever seemed to hold that against him, possibly because he was a Geordie. A mainstay in the glamorous sides of the 60s and early 70s. He played 291 games and score 93 goals. He also worked behind the scenes as a match day host, he will be missed.

Chelsea U21 4:1 Colchester United U21
Frankie Runham, Michael Golding, Zain Silcott-Duberry and an own-goal as we tidied up the PL Cup group.

Diego Moreira has been recalled from his Lyon loan. The young Portuguese made only nine appearance in a poor start to the season for Lyon.

Teddy Sharman-Lowe is also back from Bromley, where he didn’t really get a chance.

Tuesday 23 January
Chelsea 6:1 Middlesbrough
(Chelsea win 6-2 on aggregate)
This was more like it. Tension eased as Broja had the ball taken off his toe for own-goal, Enzo lashed in, Alex Disasi showed good control for a defender and Cole Palmer wrapped up a great first-half.
Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling were both really good on the night and Chilwell’s 65-minutes a good test of his hamstrings.
It helped that Middlesbrough were missing Isaiah Jones and looked nervous and blundered several times. Second half strikes from Palmer for his second and Madueke almost completed the scoring but for a late Rogers strike to give the noisy travelling fans something to cheer.
Leo Castledine got a late taste of the Bridge
Sunday 25 February at Wembley, wear your smartest gear.
Fingers crossed for a west London derby.

Wednesday 24 January
Chelsea 2:1 Real Madrid
The important news is that we have qualified for the quarter finals as group winners – Häcken and Paris drew their match nil-each earlier this evening – despite making a meal of it.
Emma said it was a boring match afterwards but it was more of a slog than that. We dominated possession, created chances but got to the hour before a Guro Reiten penalty got us ahead.
We then conceded from the only real chance only for Erin Cuthbert force the ball in off their goalkeeper. It was credited as an own goal.
The side will be content with the result rather than the performance and we might rest a few in the last match away in Paris next Tuesday.

Fulham caused Liverpool a few problems, scored a late goal but couldn’t force a leveller, so it is the Reds at Wembley, again, instead of the Cottagers.

Friday 26 January
Chelsea 0:0 Aston Villa
Possibly to be expected in a second men’s first team game inside three days but we didn’t look sharp tonight.
Villa had the ball in the net early but VAR decided it was handled. Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer had really good chances smothered in the first half.
Palmer had a clearer chance in the second but scuffed his effort as we tailed off.
Djordje Petrovic, who has been solid since he came in, had to be sharp to deny the visitors at the close but we rode it out. Villa will have home advantage in a replay but we cannot look as tired again.

Emma has added the striker Mayra Ramirez from Levante. Sam Kerr’s injury led the club to seek another forward. The Colombian forward cost a reported £384,000 and for that you’d expect a reincarnation of joining the Blues from Spanish side Levante

Saturday 27 January
Brighton & Hove Albion 0:3 Chelsea
Another frustrating first half, was forgotten at the start of the second as Lauren James flashed in a volley that took the breath away. It was superb, from Niamh Charles cross.
Fran Kirby headed us further ahead from a corner before Lauren lashed in another, first-time shot from a deflected clearance. The world is at her feet at the moment.

Chelsea U21 3:2 Reading U21
A Jimmy-Jay Morgan hattrick saw of a dangerous and determined Reading. For all the chaos at that club their academy appears in good shape. They took the lead after an early penalty and deserved something. But Morgan wasn’t in the mood to let them.

Sunday 28 January
The fifth-round draw pits the winner of Chelsea against Aston Villa against the winners of Leeds United and Plymouth Argyle. It has been years since we played Plymouth but Chelsea and Leeds United in the FA Cup is a certain thing. If we get past Villa.

Monday 29 January
Plod ordered our League Cup final against Liverpool to kick off at 3pm. Traditionalist will be pleased but the Wolves against Sheffield United match will then overlap with the final.

The official word is that the Met are worried that a later kick-off will mean scuffles between supporters. Despite the fact that there have never been any serious trouble at a club cup final since 1923.

The hour-and-a-half change seem trivial an unnecessary but reflects a disturbing trend in police thinking. This match is designated ‘high-risk’ but on flimsy grounds. There have been dozens of matches between the two clubs without major incident in recent years. We don’t love Liverpool but generally both sets of fans are well behaved and respectful.

Elements within the police have been seeking to re-demonise football fans. They will not rest until they can treat the football public as an enemy again.
The Daily Mail have been running a snide campaign against football fans. The culture war needs new soldiers and hatred of football fans is a kneejerk for the Mail. They even stooped to quoting one of their own staff, Ian Ladyman, as an expert condemning football hooliganism on his podcast.

Nicolas Jackson will be coming home early as Cote d’Ivoire beat Senegal in a penalty shootout. Jackson was a second half substitute but didn’t have any clear chances.

Tuesday 30 January
Paris FC 0:4 Chelsea
Fran Kirby headed us into an early lead and it was straightforward from there. Paris worked really hard, but were shocking at the back as Mia Fishel, Guro Reiten and Maren Mjelde tapped in easy chances. We had four chances on target and scored them all.
Paris had put out Arsenal and Wolfsburg on the way to the group stage but didn’t perform. BK Häcken beat Real Madrid in the other game in the group.
The draw is next Tuesday.

Wednesday 31 January
Liverpool 4:1 Chelsea
This was such an embarrassing capitulation that the Reds missed a penalty and had a player hit the woodwork four times in a match.
Starting without a striker was huge mistake.
Nkunku’s well taken goal was the only bright moment on an evening when a young collection of individuals failed on a night when Conor Bradley (20) scored one and set up two and Spurs’ young team, playing attractive attacking football, got the better of Brentford. While we flounder six-months into a season. We should have had two penalties but that cannot disguise the fact that we have no direction.
Wembley for the League Cup could be a shambles if we play like this.
Pochettino said afterwards, “They were more aggressive than us. They were better than us in all areas.
“We need to improve and we need to push ourselves a little bit more. We have to learn. If we want to compete … we have to raise our level.”
Worrying that he has only just noticed when it has been clear from the stands since August.

Jessie Fleming left us for the Portland Thorns. Jessie signed in 2020 and scored important goals along the way to 111 appearances. A Canada international and Olympic gold medallist. She was a really good player but £250,000 is a wedge in this game.