I popped along to Stamford Bridge on 2 July 2015, as season ticket holders, members and local residents had been invited to view the consultation exhibition on the development of Stamford Bridge into a 60k seater stadium, from its current capacity of 41,600.
It was a very interesting and impressive session, the consultants on hand seemed very open with the information provided and there were very few questions they were unable to answer, from me at least. I left feeling very positive about the proposals, not least because we will remain at our spiritual home, but also because many of the concerns raised regarding our current set up, for example away fans, atmosphere etc, appear to have been addressed. Below are a few of the main points I have managed to glean from my visit and since, in no particular order. I make no guarantees of their accuracy or detail; this is just my take on the information provided.
There’s only one Jose Mourinho, the best manager Chelsea have ever had the privilege to have. A sad day in our history, one where the club showed they have no vision and care little for us loyal fans.
Goodbye Jose, and thank you for everything. 💙
A poor performance and our first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool. So much nicer to look at a collage of @hazardeden_10’s backside, I’m feeling better already! 💙🍑😉
Keep the faith #utc #cfc (at Stamford Bridge)
a treat to go on the road with Chelsea fans, although I had to skip on any pre
and post match jollies, as I’d travelled directly from the venue of a wedding
the day before and felt a bit delicate! But still great to see some of the
usual suspects including the delightful ‘three amigos’, Walter, Smithy and Big
Chris, standing just behind me as we approached kick off.
in goal Thibaut Courtois, with the ever present back four of Branislav
Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta. With N'Golo Kante just
in front of the back four it was Pedro in place of Willian (reported to have a
calf injury) alongside Matic, Oscar, and Eden Hazard with Diego Costa upfront.
On the subs bench were Asmir Begovic, Ola Aina, Nathaniel Chalobah, Cesc
Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Victor Moses and Michy Batshuayi.
steady start to the game, plenty of possession and knocking the ball around the
park, but not much in the way of gilt edged chances. We didn’t have it all our
own way and we needed to be on our guard to the home team’s threat on the
counter attack. It was untidy at times and a right old scrap in midfield as
Kante and Co got stuck in.
as away fans we kept ourselves entertained and were in fine voice as usual, it
must be something about a few pre-match beverages that loosen up the vocal
first real chance on goal fell to Watford when Amrabat (isn’t that a species of
Pokémon?) hustled his way up field from the half way line and with his cross
from the edge of the box he almost found Ighalo only for the ball to be
cleverly intercepted by Gary Cahill. Straight up the other end and a free kick
taken by Eden Hazard came to nothing as the game was becoming an end to end
affair. Frustratingly, we weren’t able to replicate the quick forward movement
on show against West Ham last week. We were knocking on the door but the
delicate touches were eluding us, Matic in particular, although not
exclusively, seeming to struggle. And you know the Chelsea fans are getting
frustrated when the desperate Come On Chelsea rings out.
half time fast approaching there was a bit of contention when Costa went for a
loose ball spilled by Gomes after Matic had played the ball in to our striker.
But in the following mini melee, was the ball back passed to the keeper by the
defender? It was well disguised!
another foul on Eden Hazard on the edge of the box as we approached stoppage
time, but his low shot free kick went straight through to the keeper and the
ball was safely collected. HT 0-0.
In one of our more eagerly awaited
fixtures of the season, the Scousers were in town, but with this our first Friday
night game of the new TV rights package, it transpired that many of our
visitors might not have been able to get back to their Liverpool homes because
of this country’s antiquated transport system. Still trying to decide if I felt
sorry for them! And even for the Chelsea fans, Friday night football seems to
be like Marmite, love it or hate it. Hate that it’s another nail in the coffin
of traditional 3 o'clock Saturday football, or love it because it’s a chance to
get well and truly “on it” with a whole weekend of recovery time
In team news, Courtois retained his
place in goal with captain Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz and Azpilicueta across
the back. Alas, our JT was still recovering from the twisted ankle sustained at
the end of the Swansea game so leadership duties were taken up by Branna and
his place taken by the curly haired one. With Kante in the Kante position, it
was Willian and Hazard on the wings with Oscar and Matic inside. Diego Costa up
front. On the bench were Begovic, Alonso, Aina, Fabregas, Pedro, Moses and
As the lights dimmed we were treated
to some “spectacular entertainment” (according to the Chelsea web
site at least) by way of some flashing blue lights and a few puffs of smoke,
before the teams emerged to the familiar rallying sounds of the Liquidator. But
the real treat on display were the banners unfurled from the Shed, celebrating
50 years since it was first named. A fantastic effort by all involved.
An end to end start to the game both
teams happy to hold a bit of possession and gradually build up momentum. But as
time progressed Liverpool were seeing far too much of the ball, we seemed
content to let them get behind us down the wings far too easily, but thankfully
very little by way of threat on goal.
But we ended up being camped in our
half for longer periods of the game and with just over quarter of an hour gone
a free kick was awarded to Liverpool out on the right. When the ball was
eventually lofted in to the box it was a simple job for Lovren to take one
touch at the far post back across the goal and into the back of the net. Far
too easy and made worse by the fact that red shirts were lining up for that one
and our boys just stood there and ball watched. Shocking, as a hushed silence
descended on the ground, all but for one corner of the Shed. The only
consolation for me was that the arrogant Mr Sturridge wasn’t on the end of it; he
was too busy getting himself onside.
Needless to say, that set the
Scousers off; it was like a double whammy, a goal behind and having to listen
to that excruciating ear bleeding noise. But hey, if the boot were on the other
Going behind didn’t even spur us into
any meaningful action, we seemed lethargic and ineffectual, no challenges going
in, just letting them play right through us. And when we did get the ball there
didn’t seem to be much on by way of options. At one point I wondered if there
were more red men on the pitch that blue!
It was painful to watch, but it got
much worse on 35 minutes when we went two behind. A throw in from the right
finding the feet of Gary Cahill who obligingly popped the ball back to
Henderson who was lurking in acres of space some 35 yards out, and had time to
line up his shot straight into the far top corner of the goal. It was a good strike
but we were handing this game to them on a plate. Jordan bloody Henderson for
goodness sake! So poor!
It wasn’t as if we had no chances at
all, but there was nothing happening for us in open play, and any set
pieces just didn’t find the target. HT 0-2.
Finally, the transfer window has closed and all the ridiculous player speculation can end…..until January at least!
After signing Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante earlier in the window, and goalkeeper Eduardo more recently, yesterday’s dramatic proceedings saw us sign defenders Marcos Alonso and (who saw this one coming) the re-signing of David Luiz. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not entirely convinced having been concerned by Luiz’s defensive howlers while with us previously. But he does play with passion and Chelsea fans like that. Also, I trust Antonio Conte to recognise when someone can do a job for us, he has already chosen well with Kante and Batshuayi hasn’t he? Interesting times ahead.
As well as the big names coming in there were some notable names staying on, thankfully Victor Moses and Cesc Fabregas are still around, as well as youngsters Ola Aina and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and I think they all have a lot to contribute.
Plenty of movement going the other way too, and the official Chelsea FC web site rounds up all the comings and goings in this summary.
Still unbeaten under Guus Hiddink’s tenure, our next game in this strangest of seasons was a trip to The Emirates, home of The Arsenil. Always a highlight fixture of the year, we have an uncanny knack of winding up the Gooners, both on and off the pitch. So we headed off for pre match refreshments in one of the local hostelries that pretentiously doubled up as a kindergarten!
Team news had Courtois in goal with Ivanovic, Zouma, JT and Azpilicueta across the back, supported by Mikel and Matic in front. With Fabregas, Willian and Oscar was Costa up front. On the bench Begovic, Cahill, Rahman, Loftus-Cheek, Traore, Hazard and Remy. Come on you Blues!
An even first few minutes of the game, neither team having any real attempt on goal, but it was telling the number of times Fabregas was on the ball by the amount of booing emanating from the home fans. And with Diego Costa being afforded the same special treatment it was with delicious irony that the fiery one was once again the villain.
After 15 minutes the pace picked up and within a couple of minutes the first major game influencing moment. A beautifully timed through ball from Willian found Costa charging towards goal and with only Mertesacker in contention the man in red saw red when he slid in across Costa and brought him down. With his defensive colleagues nowhere to be seen he had to go. And he knew it, as he walked off to cheers from the away fans and a comical rendition of ‘Diego Costa, he’s done it again!’
Not wishing to harp on about the Gooners but they do like a good boo don’t they? And they had a great opportunity to show Wenger their perpetual frustration when Giroud was sacrificed for the sending off, replaced by another of Costa’s victi….sorry, friends Gabriel.
But the hilarity of it all didn’t stop there, when two minutes later, who else but Costa put the ball into the back of the net, a lovely cross from Ivanovic planted just ahead of our striker and with just the barely warmed up Gabriel and Cech to beat he stroked the ball home from close range. Diego Diego Diego.
All very comfortable for us, we were playing with confidence, our defence alert to any half-hearted efforts from the home team, our midfield dominating possession against their 10 men while we engineered chances on goal. And with Flamini messing up a golden opportunity to equalise just before the break the first half ended 0-1.
During the last few days Chelsea FC have submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Report to Hammersmith & Fulham Council, designed to put the local planning authority on notice of the club’s intention to submit a formal planning application for the full redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. The report details the scope of the areas the application will include, for example, transport, noise, timing etc.
Local football journalist Dan Levene has highlighted the main points in his excellent piece for Eurosport, and below are the main points I have gleaned so far:
The work is expected to take a total of 4 years to complete
The development could start as early as May 2016, at the end of the current season, with building of the direct access platforms to Fulham Broadway station. No planning permission is required for this stage.
Demolition of the existing stadium and subsequent rebuilding will be completed in one 3-year phase from May 2017.
Chelsea’s games will be played at an alternative venue for 3 years, with Wembley the current favourite. Twickenham and the Olympic Stadium could still be options.
There will be just 715 extra season ticket holders in the new stadium.
There will be 2,569 away supporters, a reduction of 431 from the current level of 3,000.
There will be in excess of 16,000 extra hospitality seats, which include over 6,000 in a new members ‘bronze’ club area.
Junior seats will double from the current 1,500 to 3,000.
Others will be increased from 500 to 926, which include directors, players, officials, media and disabled supporters.
The story continues to develop, so watch this space!
My previous piece on the stadium consultation can be found here.
Saturday 27 February 2016 - Southampton 1 Chelsea 2
With the Disco Car in the garage, it was the train taking the strain as we headed to one of our most popular away fixtures at Southampton and St Mary’s Stadium, via one of the local hostelries favoured by home and away fans alike.
A familiar team lineup with Courtois in goal and the de-masked Azpilicueta, Cahill, captain Ivanovic and Baba Rahman across the back. With Fabregas and Mikel in their settled defensive midfield positions were Willian, Hazard and Pedro supporting Diego Costa up top. Bench warming duties were from Begovic, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Oscar, Traore and Remy.
A cagey start to the game, the ball popping around the park, neither team taking control. But just 5 minutes in we were forced into an early change when Oscar came on for Pedro, who had pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem.
The first real threats on goal came from the home team as they created some decent chances that didn’t quite come off, but the danger signs were there. Play then immediately switched to the other end in this ongoing ding dong battle, the game could have gone either way for much of the early minutes of the game.
As the half wore on and a corner that wasn’t a corner, where the ref from yards away overruled the linesman inches away, led to a passage of play that saw Charlie Austin’s dangerous cross into the box athletically headed clear by Gary Cahill. Another worrying moment to deal with.
Halfway through the first period Costa decided to lose his own mask, perhaps having trouble seeing where the goal was! We continued to plug away, but continually thwarted when we did get anywhere within goal sniffing distance.
But as we approached the end of the half we lost our concentration at the back, a ball headed forward by the home team was picked up by Baba Rahman who rather tamely nodded it sideways towards Cahill, but before he could blink Shane Long had intercepted the ball and went streaking towards our goal, and as Courtois approached to close down the angle, Long had chipped the ball into the back of the net while our defenders were still chasing back. A shame, and poor Baba looked mortified. But as we tried to make amends with a quick foray up the other end, the half time whistle blew with us trailing by that one goal.
Sunday 21 February 2016 - FA Cup 5th round - Chelsea 5 Manchester City 1
Back from our travels in the Champions League and our attention turned to domestic silverware in the FA Cup. With talk of our opponents putting out a youth team we’re on a hiding to nothing, where nothing less than a resounding win will do, otherwise we’d never hear the last of it.
With JT still on the sidelines it was the same starting 11 we saw in Paris; Courtois in goal with Azpilicueta, captain Ivanovic, Cahill and Baba Rahman across the back. With Fabregas and Mikel were Willian, Hazard and Pedro, with Diego Costa up front. On the bench were Begovic, Miazga, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Oscar, Traore and Remy.
The first few minutes of the game seemed even enough, the lads in the luminous kits and the bingo squad numbers knocking the ball around with some confidence, Faupala looking pretty useful.
But a bit of a worry when Cahill went down after a few minutes and requiring some attention from the medical staff - I bet Matt Miazga started to get a bit excited as he jumped up for a run on the sidelines! And a few minutes later Cahill would require more attention, this time for a nosebleed after a head to head challenge with the City forward. Our Gary certainly likes to put himself about.
But it wasn’t long before the spirited exuberance of the visiting boys, and some very experienced City players let’s not forget, calmed down and we assumed control of the game. And the first sign of things to come when Pedro the terrier skipped into the box on a one-two with Fabregas as he chipped the keeper Caballero only to see his well worked attempt hit the post.
We were totally dominating play and possession, our young visitors content to let us move the ball around freely, relying on their more experienced defence to hold us up, hoping for a counter attack opportunity themselves. But we kept hold of the majority of the possession and took every opportunity to test out their nervous keeper. Surely just a matter of time before their defence was breached.
And the breakthrough we fully expected finally came on 35 minutes as a result of more patient build up play from us. A ball knocked into the box by Fabregas and into the path of Hazard with his high cross from the byline into the 6 yard box where Costa was waiting to head the ball straight into the back of the net under no challenge whatsoever from the keeper while the two defenders just stood there gazing at our man as he put us one up. No more than we deserved.