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Stamford Bridge consultation

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.

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Chelsea 2 Spurs 1 - Saturday 26 November 2016

Always a stand out fixture, and following last season’s title ending shenanigans, it seemed we were playing for more than just the 3 points on offer today, our visitors hoping to end their miserable record at fortress Stamford Bridge.

With the lights dimmed and a laser show build up the teams emerged into the gladiatorial arena, both sets of fans desperate to see the opposition vanquished. This clash rarely disappoints; a win for us and we go back to the top of the league. A win for Spurs….well, they can dream!

Nice to see the team picking itself right now; Courtois in goal, with Azpilicueta, Luiz and captain Cahill in that highly effective back 3. Alongside Moses and Alonso in their flying wing back positions, were Kante and Matic shoring up the midfield. Up top were Pedro and Hazard supporting the not-so-fiery-lately-one Diego Costa. On the bench were Begovic, Ivanovic, Fabregas, Chalobah, Willian, Oscar and Batshuayi.

It’s fair to say that our visitors came out of the blocks a lot faster, probably feeling they had a lot more to prove, and running around like a team possessed. For the first few minutes we were keeping them at bay. But it looked a bit ominous on 5 minutes when their Arsenal youth product Harry Kane put a close range ball lofted over from a free kick into the back of the net only for it to be rightly called offside. Sighs of relief all round.

We were soaking up all the early pressure, a bit too much really, but with just 10 minutes played our excellent clean sheet record had gone when dirty Dembele was allowed too much space to wriggle his way through our defence before laying the ball off for Eriksen to strike an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box and past the outstretched Courtois. That wasn’t in the script!

It was early enough in the game for us to come back, but we still seemed to be sitting back, content to soak up more pressure, not enough quick ball going forward for my liking. Spurs were having the majority of the possession but in the main were forced into wildly off target shots on goal.

We were making hard work of it and recalling our nightmare defeat at Arsenal, Courtois seemed insistent on playing a short ball out leaving our defenders under pressure. So it was a comical moment when the home supporters were screaming at him to just kick it long. Which he duly did!

Frustratingly, Spurs were getting far too much of the ball and they were quick to hustle us when we had possession.  The general feeling in my part of the ground was they would eventually run out of steam. But for the moment it was the boys in blue who were off the pace, anyone would have thought it was us who had been unceremoniously dumped out the Champions League just a few days earlier.

Approaching half time and as we were getting used to the idea that perhaps just being the one goal behind wasn’t too bad considering, up popped the ever smiling Pedro to bang a spectacular equaliser into the back of the net. With Matic finding Pedro in space on the edge of the box, our fleet footed Spaniard did a quick pivot and while their defenders were still trying to decide what to do, he let rip the ball into the far top corner, past the outstretched Lloris in goal and right in front of the cocky Spurs fans. Delicious, and cue frantic celebrations in a beeline towards the dugouts as Conte enthusiastically joined it. HT 1-1.

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Watford 1 Chelsea 2 - 20 August 2016

Always 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.

Starting 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.

A 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.

But 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 chords!

The 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.

With 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! 

Yet 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.

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Southampton 0 Chelsea 2 - Sunday 30 October 2016

Always one of the stand out away games of the season, an easy train journey from south west London towards the south coast and a great atmosphere all the way from the pre-match hostelry where opposing fans freely drink together, to the ground where supporters of both sides are free to support their team without fear of aggravation. In truth, the vast majority of away days are like that!

In pleasing team news, the same lineup that convincingly defeated Man Utd; Courtois in goal, with Azpilicueta, Luiz and captain Cahill as the centre back trio, supported by Moses and Alonso in those all important wing back positions. With Kante and Matic as Little and Large (I am showing my age there!) in the middle of the pitch, were Pedro and Hazard on the flanks, with the big man Costa up front. On bench warming duties were Begovic, the welcome return of Ivanovic, JT, Chalobah, Willian, Oscar and Batshuayi.

Following a well observed and moving minute’s silence in honour of the upcoming Armistice Day, we kicked off against an on form Southampton.

A cracking game in store, both sides looking up for it and either team could have opened the scoring during the early exchanges, play moving freely between both ends. But it was our boys in blue who took the initiative and took the lead after just 5 minutes, Hazard using Moses to return the ball as he danced his customary undetected skip into the box, jiggled past a couple of defenders before stroking the ball through the legs of Forster at close range and into the back of the net, and from the tightest of angles as well. All too easy really, what a start!

The game continued at a blistering pace, as the away fans kept up the noise levels, vocal chords suitably lubricated. And undeterred by the goal against them, Southampton were not averse to getting forward themselves, but our remoulded defensive-aware outfit were wise to whatever they wanted to throw at us. And they did throw quite a bit at us as the game wore on, but lately you feel that our defence is made of an impenetrable blue barrier, that moves, shifts, expands and contracts to suit the threat. They really are a sight to behold when they’re in full flow.

We weren’t creating a whole load of nailed on chances until later on in the half, but when we did get possession we looked dangerous, Hazard especially slicing through those red and white shirts, and a late chance saw Costa’s shot blocked by the long legs of Forster. HT 0-1.

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Chelsea 5 Everton 0 - Saturday 5 November 2016

On bonfire night we might have expected a few fireworks following previous encounters against Everton at the Bridge. Who can forget that late equaliser when JT and half the team launched themselves into the Matthew Harding end. And on top of our recent impressive clean sheet performances, could we do it again against a tough defensive team like Everton, playing against ex-Blue Lukaku, a player who seems to divide opinion amongst Chelsea fans and who managed to see us out of last season’s FA Cup?

So, for this tea time/night time game we fielded an unchanged lineup, perhaps Conte has found his favoured starting eleven. Courtois in goal with his three-man centre backs of Azpilicueta, Luiz and captain Cahill. Matic and Kante protecting the defence, with Moses and Alonso in their fluid wing back positions. Causing mayhem were Pedro, Hazard and our big man up front, Diego Costa. On the bench were Begovic, JT, Ivanovic, Aina, Chalobah, Oscar and Batshuayi.

With a few fireworks to greet the teams, led out by two Chelsea Pensioners looking resplendent in their familiar bright red coats, we took time out for a perfectly observed minute’s silence to reflect and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect our freedoms.

Kick off, and we seemed to spend the first few minutes of the game warming up, popping the ball around, testing out the spaces and getting the feel for a few cross pitch passes. But it looked a bit ominous for Costa a few minutes in when he went down clutching his ankle following a challenge on the edge of the box. We just played on, maybe because it was assumed he would get straight back up. He didn’t, but our man soon limped back into play, the angelic Mr Costa not letting the likes of Seamus Coleman intimidate him.

It was looking very ominous for Everton as well, already resorting to hoofing the ball away from their box when they did eventually get hold of it. They were also resorting to bundling our guys off the ball as a means of halting our progress. We were all over them and they struggled to keep us under control. We were toying with them, just biding our time….

The inevitable finally came just short of 20 minutes played. Matic stealing possession with a quick pass to Costa as Hazard streaked up the pitch alongside. With a quick pass Hazard did his customary skip into the box, past a couple of defenders, before letting off a crisp low shot diagonally across the front of the goal, through keeper Stekelenburg’s hands and into the far corner of the net. The keeper should have done better, but it was a sweet strike.

We were still celebrating and marvelling at that brilliant Hazard opener when, like London buses, another one came along, the three amigos Hazard, Costa and Pedro combining to bring the ball up the pitch and into the box with such speed, the Everton defenders may as well have been playing a game of chase me! As the ball came across the box it was anyone’s goal, but with Alonso following up at the rear, it was left to him to slot the ball through the hapless keeper’s legs to send us two up with still less that 20 minutes on the clock. We had exploded, like the fireworks at the start of the evening, the blue touch paper had been well and truly lit and we were on fire. Carefree!

Time for a short breather; we slowed the pace down and allowed our shell-shocked visitors a few moments with the ball, lulling them into a false sense of security as nothing was getting near our goal. We were like coiled springs just waiting for those counter attacking opportunities and the right time to burst forward.

Half hour gone and scintillating football was on display, short, triangular passing; our yellow shirted visitors could do nothing but stand in awe as we flicked the ball around in an elaborate game of piggy in the middle and when we got bored with that game we switched it to target practice, a lofted ball from Alonso to Moses, his volleyed strike at goal so close, but clattered the woodwork.

It didn’t stop there; we still had time to sneak another goal before half time. A corner lofted in to the edge of the 6 yard box, nodded on by Matic to Costa, who was inexplicably allowed to loiter in space and when the ball dropped to his feet he simply knocked it into the back of the net. Stekelenburg was having a nightmare, he just couldn’t respond because he didn’t know where our next attack was coming from, and neither did his defenders who were left helpless to respond.

Into stoppage time at the end of the half, but rather than winding down ready for a half time Bovril, our boys nearly had the game out of sight. Once again, just popping the ball around when Pedro, on the touch line, back heeled the ball to himself to change direction and sprint towards goal, a forward pass to Costa who burst through the yellow defenders racing towards goal and as the keeper came out Costa managed to send the ball into the side netting. It could have been over and out for Everton at half time, but the score remained at 3-0.

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Hull 0 Chelsea 2 - Saturday 1 October 2016

It was an early start on our train journey to a city in dire need of some culture – Hull, declared UK City of Culture for 2017. We made our way along busy streets filled with discount shops and miles of fluorescent plastic barriers where work is hurriedly taking place to clean up the grimy streets in an attempt to prepare for the influx of visitors from across the country. I wish them well. Stumbling across one of many old town hostelries, and with a bite to eat and a few beverages consumed we made our way to the ground, now called the KCOM, actually one of the nicer stadiums in my opinion, purely because of the unobstructed and open views of the pitch from our corner position of the ground.

For us, we were in dire need of some points after our previous slip ups. The team shaped up with the much discussed formation of three centre backs in front of Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz and captain Cahill, with a welcome start for Moses partnered by Alonso, as wing backs. Along with Kante and Matic taking on the holding midfield duties, Willian, Hazard and Costa were our creative threesome looking for the goals. On the bench were Begovic, Ivanovic, Fabregas, Oscar, Pedro, Chalobah and Batshuayi.

Following a fully observed and moving minute of appreciation for young Hull fan Megan who had tragically passed away, the game got underway.

It was a shaky start, David Luiz conceding and early free kick just outside the box, but thankfully the superb strike from Snodgrass was tipped over the crossbar by the athletic Courtois. We seemed to be making a habit of giving the ball away, team mates perhaps not quite used to their new roles and positions on the pitch.

In all honesty, the game was a bit dull. We had decent amounts of possession but we were just running around with the ball with nowhere to go, slow to move forward, allowing the opposition time to organise their defensive lines. I’m OK with a patient build up, but the ball needs to be knocked into the danger area at some point, which we just didn’t do enough of. In fairness, Hull weren’t much better; their final balls were, in the main, way off target.

We were making hard work for ourselves, just not quick and creative enough to get round their black and gold lines. But when we did manage to cause a hint of trouble, it was our wing backs of Moses and Alonso who were looking the more likely to find a way through. Even our hard earned corners ended up straight into the arms of Marshall, their keeper. But we stuck at it, we tried, and at least we still had a clean sheet - progress on last time out. Zzzzzzzz…… HT 0-0.

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Chelsea transfer window

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.

Up the Chels!

Sunday 24 January 2016 - Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1

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.

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Stamford Bridge redevelopment - update

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.

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Ohhhhhh, Fabregas is Magic…..

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.

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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.

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Steven Gerrard he’s done it again (WE GO AGAIN!!!!)