INS: Nacho Monreal (£8.2 million from Malaga).
OUTS: Marouane Chamakh (loan from West Ham), Johan Djourou (loan from Hannover) Chuks Aneke (loan from Crewe).
INS: Yacouba Sylla (£2 million from Clermont Foot), Simon Dawkins (loan from Tottenham).
OUTS: Alan Hutton (loan to Real Mallorca), Stephen Warnock (free to Leeds).
INS: Demba Ba (£7 million from Newcastle), Wallace (undisclosed from Fluminense).
OUTS: Daniel Sturridge (£12 million to Liverpool), Todd Kane (loan to Blackburn), Billy Clifford (loan to Colchester), Sam Walker (loan to Colchester), Lucas Piazon (loan to Malaga), Patrick Bamford (loan to MK Dons).
INS: John Stones (£3 million from Barnsley).
OUTS: Ross Barkley (loan to Leeds), Anton Forrester (free to Blackburn), Magaye Gueye (loan to Brest).
INS: Chris David (undisclosed, from FC Twente), Urby Emanuelson (loan from AC Milan), Stanislav Manolev (loan from PSV), Eyong Enoh (loan from Ajax).
OUTS: Stephen Kelly (undisclosed, to Reading), David Stockdale (loan to Hull), Pajtim Kasami (undisclosed, to Pescara).
INS: Daniel Sturridge (£12 million from Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (£8.5 million from Inter Milan).
OUTS: Adam Morgan (loan to Rotherham), Joe Cole (free to West Ham), Nuri Sahin (loan ended, to Borussia Dortmund), Danny Wilson (loan to Hearts), Michael Ngoo (loan to Hearts), Dani Pacheco (loan to Sociedad Deportiva Huesca), Doni (released).
INS: Godsway Donyoh (free, Ghana's Right To Dream Academy).
OUTS: Mario Balotelli (£20 million to AC Milan), Luca Scapuzzi (loan to AS Varese), Alex Nimely (loan to Cyrstal Palace), Reece Wabara (loan to Blackpool), Jeremy Helan (loan to Sheffield Wednesday), Godsway Donyoh (loan to Djurgarden).
INS: Wilfried Zaha (£15 million from Crystal Palace).
OUTS: Robbie Brady (undisclosed, to Hull), Federico Macheda (loan to Stuttgart), Angelo Henriquez (loan to Wigan), Joshua King (undisclosed to Blackburn), Bebe (loan to Rio Ave), Davide Petrucci and Scott Wootton (loan to Peterborough), Luke McCullough (loan to Cheltenham).
INS: Mathieu Debuchy (£5 million from Lille), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (£6.7 million from Montpellier), Yoann Gouffran (£1.4 million from Bordeaux), Massadio Haidara (£1.4 million from Lens), Moussa Sissoko (£2 million from Toulouse), Kevin Mbabu (undisclosed, from Servette).
OUTS: Demba Ba (£7 million to Chelsea), Conor Newton (loan to St Mirren), Mehdi Abeid (loan to St Johnstone), Xisco (released).
INS: Lee Camp (free from Nottingham Forest), Kei Kamara (loan from Sporting Kansas City), Luciano Becchio (swap deal, Leeds)
OUTS: Elliott Ward (loan to Nottingham Forest), Jacob Butterfield (loan to Crystal Palace), Simon Lappin (released), Steve Morison (swap deal, Leeds)
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
INS: Chris Samba (£12.5 million from Anzhi), Loic Remy (£8 million from Marseille), Jermaine Jenas (undisclosed, from Tottenham), Tal Ben Haim (free), Yun Suk-Young (undisclosed, from Chunnam Dragons), Andros Townsend (loan from Tottenham).
OUTS: Michael Harriman (loan to Wycombe), Kieron Dyer (released), Tom Hitchcock (loan to Bristol Rovers), Frankie Sutherland (loan to Portsmouth), Djibril Cisse (loan to Al Gharafa), Rob Hulse (loan to Millwall), Anton Ferdinand (loan to Bursaspor), Jordan Gibbons (loan to Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Alejandro Faurlin (loan to Palermo), DJ Campbell (undisclosed, to Blackburn)
INS: Daniel Carrico (£600,000 from Sporting Lisbon), Stephen Kelly (undisclosed, from Fulham), Hope Akpan (undisclosed, from Crawley), Nick Blackman (£1.2million from Sheffield United).
OUTS: Dominic Samuel (loan to Colchester), Michael Hector (loan to Charlton).
INS: Vegard Forren (undisclosed, from Molde).
OUTS: Ryan Dickson (loan to Bradford), Dan Seaborne (loan to Bournemouth), Jonathan Forte (loan to Sheffield United), Ben Reeves (loan to Southend), Lee Barnard (loan to Oldham), Steve de Ridder (loan to Bolton).
INS: Jack Butland (£5 million from Birmingham), Brek Shea (undisclosed, from FC Dallas).
OUTS: Danny Higginbotham (free to Sheffield United), Michael Tonge (undisclosed, to Leeds), Ryan Brunt (loan to Bristol Rovers), Maurice Edu (loan to Bursaspor), Rory Delap (loan to Barnsley), Jack Butland (loan to Birmingham), Matt Upson (loan to Brighton).
INS: Danny Graham (£5 million from Swansea), Alfred N'Diaye (undisclosed, from Bursaspor), Kader Mangane (loan from Al Hilal).
OUTS: Ji Dong-won (loan to Augsburg), David Meyler (undisclosed, to Hull), Frazier Campbell (undisclosed, to Cardiff), Jonny Maddison (loan to Crawley), Ahmed Elmohamady (loan to Hull).
INS: Roland Lamah (loan from Osasuna).
OUTS: Danny Graham (£5 million to Sunderland), Jamie Proctor (undisclosed, to Crawley Town), Jazz Richards (loan to Crystal Palace), Leroy Lita (loan from Sheffield Wednesday).
INS: Lewis Holtby (£1.5m, Schalke), Zeki Fryers (undisclosed, from Standard Liege).
OUTS: Carlo Cudicini (undisclosed to LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jenas (undisclosed to QPR), Iago Falque (loan from Almeria), Souleymane Coulibaly (loan from US Grosetto), Alex Pritchard (loan from Peterborough), Ryan Mason (loan from Lorient), Simon Dawkins (loan from Aston Villa), Andros Townsend (loan from QPR).
OUTS: Chris Wood (undisclosed to Leicester), Gonzalo Jara (loan from Nottingham Forest), Sam Manton (free from Walsall), Craig Dawson (loan from Bolton), Yassine El Ghanassy (loan from Heerenveen).
INS: Joe Cole (free from Liverpool), Marouane Chamakh (loan from Arsenal), Wellington Paulista (loan from Cruzeiro), Sean Maguire (undisclosed, from Waterford), Emmanuel Pogatetz (loan from Wolfsburg).
OUTS: Alou Diarra (loan to Rennes), Stephen Henderson (loan from Ipswich).
INS: Angelo Henriquez (loan from Manchester United), Roger Espinoza (undisclosed, from Sporting Kansas City), Joel Robles (loan from Atletico Madrid), Paul Scharner (loan from Hamburg)
OUTS: Rob Kiernan (loan from Brentford), Mauro Boselli (loan from Palermo).
Brian M Logan
PS: don't forget to LINK TO THIS PAGE from your blog, website or FaceBook page, etc to share the Chelsea love!
Chelsea 2 v 2 Southampton - Official Chelsea Match Report
Chelsea dropped yet more points at home and can all but kiss goodbye any thoughts of winning the title, after being held to yet another draw at Stamford Bridge. This time by lowly Southampton. Yup, that'd be the team we thrashed 1 v 5 away in the FA cup last week. That Southampton.
The cliche, 'Football is a game of two halves' was never truer than in this match. In the first half Chelsea were in complete control, and scored two excellent goals (Ba and Torres...nah, just kidding...Ba and Hazard!). But in the second half Southampton gave it a right old go, and Rickie Lambert made Dave his bitch (not hard to do, I'm afraid) and then Jason Puncheon scored a cracker after (self-confessed Chelsea fan) Luke Shaw made a blistering Garath Bale style run up the left wing, to give them a point that looked highly unlikely at the start of the match (and even more unlikely at the start of the 2nd half). A point which pushed the Saints three clear of the drop zone.
So who do we blame for this most tame of second half performances? The manager? The players? The fans? Roman?
To be honest, I think it's a bit of everything. Roman should've never hired a gutless, devoid-of-ideas Liverfool loving manager like Benetez in the first place. That much is a given. But this time I think the players who were on the field (the defenders especially) need to shoulder the lion's share of the blame. Because they were the ones that folded like a deck of cards. And it's they that need to take a good long, hard look at themselves.
Benetez isn't going to change as a manager. His tactics and methodology is easily 10 years out of date, and is what it is. But these players are supposedly the 'best of the best' and the 'perfect blend between youth and experience'. (As if!). So it's up to them to man up. Because as much as I (we) dislike Benetez, he can't play for the players. And we've dropped so many points of late due to shambolic defending and individual PLAYER mistakes it's not funny.
JT can't come back soon enough. That and we NEED to buy a proper midfield enforcer / defensive midfielder before the transfer window closes. Because I'm sorry, this level of shambolic defending cannot go on.
The boos and vitriol at the end of the game may have been for Benetez. But the players deserved it every bit as much as him.
Brian M Logan
PS: don't forget to LINK TO THIS PAGE from your blog, website or FaceBook page, etc to share the Chelsea love!
Stoke 0 v 4 - Official Chelsea Match Report
To say that a 0 v 4 scoreline against an unlucky Stoke team flatters Chelsea is somewhat of an understatement. With halftime approaching, and the score locked at 0 v 0, Stoke were looking the much better team, with about 60% of the possession. (Yes, against Chelsea!)
The one bright spot in an otherwise dire first half was a move when Chelsea strung a whole bunch of passes together (to cries from the Stoke fans of, 'Boring! Boring!'). A move that ended up with Eden Hazard and Bemba Ba combining brilliantly to set up Super Franky Lampard from a metre and a half out. Only for the shot to be saved by Stoke's very impressive keeper, Begovic, when he stuck out his right leg in the nick of time.
Bravery favours the fortunate however, and deep into first half injury time a cross came in from the right and Jonathan Walters provided a beautiful moment of keystone cop defending by heading into an unguarded net. And as the old saying goes, there is no better time to score than just before half-time!
Chelsea played a lot better after the break and started stringing passes together and bossing the play. But Stoke too were playing with increased urgency (no doubt born out of a feeling of injustice at having to go in at half time one nil down) and were really charging up and down the field and throwing their weight around. And they are a very big team to start with!
Things went from bad to worse for Stoke on the 62nd minute when that man Jonathan Walters popped up again to score his second own goal of the game; and wonder of wonder miracle of miracles Chelsea were suddenly two nil up. At Stoke. A team that hadn't lost at home for over 12 months. Whereas the first own goal spurred on Stoke, the second own goal had the opposite effect, and seemed to knock the wind out of their sails. This allowed Chelsea to really start bossing the match (without really creating that many clear-cut chances).
Stoke manager Tony Pullis said in the post match interview that, "It just wasn't meant to be our day". And how right he was! Because, with the score at 0 v 2, Mata gave away possession extremely cheaply and Stoke went bombing down the left wing, and won themselves a penalty from the ever clumsy Dave. Fortunately the EPL's sexiest lines woman already had her flag up, and the penalty never eventuated. Had they scored then, the score would've been 1 v 2 and it would've been game on!
On 65 min it was all over bar the shouting, when Mata was bundled over in the area and Chelsea received a very fortuitous penalty decision. (At which point my girlfriend Alex and I both cried in unison: 'Let Walters take it and get his hat-trick!")
Naturally Frank stepped up and put his foot through the ball and it was three nil. That goal by the way, now makes him Chelsea's second top goalscorer in our history, with 193 goals. One more than Chelsea legend Kerry Dixon.
Five minutes later Hazard rubbed salt into their wounds when he found himself in a pocket of space some 30 yards out and fired into the top left-hand corner. Replays showed his shot took the merest of deflections off a Stoke defender's head, which is why their keeper seemed to misjudge it.
With the clock ticking down, Chelsea brought on John Terry and played with five at the back (why, Rafa, why?). And it was our fearless leader, in his first game back since injury, that gave away a penalty late on. Stoke very kindly gave the penalty to Walters. At which point we knew - we just knew - that he was going to miss. And so he did, blasting the ball onto the crossbar and nto row Z!
Skinny from this game is that Mata (despite his brilliance) really annoys me when he pulls out of tackles. Which is all that time! I appreciate he's not big, but being small has nothing to do with your ability or willingness to tackle hard. Chelsea legend Dennis Wise was a hobbit, but that didn't stop him being the most ferocious tackler of his generation. So why the f*ck doesn't Mata stick his boot in from time to time? It really infuriates me when a player is too scared to tackle. Yes I know it's not his job, but defending is a team sport in football, and if the ball is there to be won, stick your God damn boot in!
Make no mistake this game would've ended differently had that penalty been awarded to Stoke (after a Mata mistake). And if it had, you could have directly attributed that change in fortunes to Mata's p*ssy tackling. Sorry to sound so hard on Mata (a play I love), but in a close game, it is often the team that wins the 50-50 challenges that wins the match. And having one of your midfielders be too afraid to go in for a 50-50 challenge, is a recipe for disaster.
Remember Joe Cole in his Chelsea pomp? Joe Cole is no bigger than Juan Mata, but Joe Cole is English. And English players grow up playing a far more physical style of game than they do in Spain. Well I have news you Johnny Foreigners, you're playing in England now, so man the f*ck up already!
The other take out from this game is that Demab Ba started in place of Torres, and it was interesting to see him play a full match. How did he play? Well, in his defence, he didn't get much service from the wingers. But he did make some timely runs and passes, and with better finishing from his teammates, could have been responsible for setting up two goals. So all in all a pretty solid first full game. And here's hoping he continues to start in place of Torres.
Brian M Logan
Chelsea 0 v 2 Swansea - Captial One Semi Final Match Report
Swansea produced a resolute defensive display against Chelsea today in the first leg of our semi final of the Capital One League Cup. A display that should've netted them, at best, a 0 v 0 draw.
Chelsea started brightly in the match and played well in a first half, at times producing some delightful football (though our finishing was dreadful) . But it was Swansea that went in at half time 0 v 1 up, not us. This wasn't due to anything they did but rather was due to an awful first touch from Ivanovic which let in - who else - Michu. Their talismanic striker hadn't so much as had a sniff up to this point. But as with all great strikers, he don't need to be asked twice when he was gifted a one on one with the keeper out of nowhere.
At half time Benitez should've earned his keep and changed things up. Why? Because Swansea were no threat going forward, and because we were in need of a goal (or two). Ergo, he should've taken off one of our defensive midfielders (we were playing 4231) and changed to 4132 and brought on Ba. Now, as syllogisms go this was a pretty simple one to grasp, even for Benitez. But of course he didn't do anything of the kind. Rather, he followed his 'Football Management 101' how-to book, and refused to change anything until after the hour mark.
At this point he brought on Lampard for the largely ineffectual Ramires in a like for like swap. Now, we all love Lamps, but at 35 he is not exactly an 'impact player', as he's someone who needs - to get the best out of him - to start the match and 'get a feel' for the game to really boss the midfield.
The crowd were crying for Benitez to bring on Ba, right the way through the second half. But Benitez didn't do so until about 15 minutes from the end (in place of Torres, who didn't have so much as a single shot on goal all game). And let's not beat about the bush here, Ba offered more goal threat, and had more attempts on goal (including one goal disallowed for off-side) in 15 minutes than Torres offered IN THE ENTIRE MATCH.
But like I said, I would've been happy enough to have two up front for the second half, as we were bossing the possession, and never looked like giving up another goal.
That is until Ivanovic decided to gift Swansea, in the dying minutes of the match, yet another goal, when he passed back to Turnbull WITHOUT LOOKING. And then, as if by magic, Swansea were 0 v 2 up and the match was over.
Ivanovic was without question the man of the match...FOR SWANSEA. Without his school-boy errors there's no way in God's green earth we would've lost this match. Because, aside from the two goals / gifts from Ivanovic, Swansea hardly had a single shot on goal the entire match. This was, as the saying goes, a SMASH AND GAB win for them. And they can go into the second leg full of confidence.
In Ivanovic's defence I will go on record and say that he is a terrific player, and everyone has a bad game from time to time. Not usually THIS BAD, I'll grant you. But I'm a big fan of Ivanovic and I'm not going to cruicify him based on one shambolic display. (I suspect he's been studying defending from Luiz, if today's performance is anything to go by!)
Still, there's always the second leg to come. And fingers crossed we'll have Terry and Cahill at the centre of defence by then. Let's hope so, because two home defeats in a row, against 'lesser' opposition, does not bode well for the rest of the season.
All together now, Chelsea fans: "BENITEZ AND TORRES OUT!"
Brian M Logan
Southampton 1 v 5 Chelsea - Official Match Report
There are many different types of strikers. Some like King Kerry and Drogba could do it all. Some like Zola and Mata were / are all about deft touches and individual pieces of sublime skill. Then there's someone like JFH who was born with two howitzers beneath his overly muscular buttocks, and God help any defenders who gave him space to shoot from ANYWHERE within about 50 yards.
Then there are other strikers who are more 'Fox in the Box' or 'Poacher' types. Chelsea don't seem to buy many of these, with maybe Kalou being the closest in recent memory (and Batman if you go back a little further, and Steve "Jock" Finnieston if you want to go back further still!). And you know what, I'm okay with that, as these are my least favourite types of strikers. Oh, don't get me wrong, every team could benefit from a Gary Lineker or a Paolo Rossi. And heck, how many games did Man Utd win on the back of Ruud van Nistelrooy's goals from less than 6 yards out? But I've always been more of a fan of someone who can dribble / beat defenders one on one, and who has a long range shot that can rip a hole in the back of the net, than of the poacher types. (So if anyone knows where to find the illegitimate love child of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Zola, please call the Chelsea hotline!)
All of which begs the question: what type of striker will Demba Ba turn out to be for the blues?
Today, against an admittedly weak Southampton team, he was Johnny on the Spot and picked up two poacher type goals. But I think there's more to him than that. Right now he's the new kid in school, and the playground is full of big kids with bigger reputations, so it's natural that he's going to feel a little overawed and keep things simple. But strikers are all about confidence. The more they have, the better they play. Just ask Torres*. (*Irony alert! Irony alert!) These two goals from Ba (especially the 2nd one) will go a long way to help him settle down. A few more in quick succession, especially against better opposition, and he'll start to believe he belongs here. And if and when that happens, he could go on a scoring spree and help us challenge for the title.
This 3rd round FA cup match was always going to be a cake walk. Key players for Southampton were rested by their manager, which meant it would be a long day at the office for the rest of them.
Not that it started out that way, because for the first 30 minutes I could've sworn we were back playing against QPR we were that bad! And the fact that we found ourselves 1 v 0 down on 22 minutes probably didn't surprise anyone. As usual though it took going behind to raise the Chelsea players from their ancient slumber, and on 35 minutes a terrific move between Moses, Hazard and Mata lead to Ba toe-pocking the ball in (for his first Chelsea goal), and then ten minutes later Moses fired into the far corner to put us in front just seconds before half time.
Still, that scoreline flattered us as we'd been pedestrian for much of the half.
Whatever Rafa said to the players at half time worked, as we came out a different team, and started playing at a much higher tempo. A tempo Southampton had no chance of matching. Goals from Ivanovic and Ba quickly put the game beyond doubt. Then came a rather fortuitous penalty that allowed Lamps to equal King Kerry's goal scoring record, and become the (joint) 2nd top Chelsea scorer, ever. Not bad for a midfielder! Lamps mouthed 'I love you!' to the crowd when the goal went in. And the feeling is most certainly mutual. (So give him a new contract already, Roman. RESPECT!)
The skinny from this game is that Ba scored two and will only get better with time. That without Mata we are largely rudderless in attack. That Luiz is the worst passer of the ball in the history of the game, and quite possibly a worse shot of a moving ball than even Mikel (yikes!). Which reinforces my thoughts that we should sell him to Barca in the summer. He's a nice guy, and not without ability, but he's far too error prone, and is only every one mistake away from costing us a goal. Yup, even in midfield. Dave is also continuing to underwhelm in both defence and attack, and seems to cross the ball like SWP or Gronk. Which is to say: straight into row Z! Also, it's worth noting that Hazard isn't anywhere near as effective as he was at the start of the season, because (between moments of magic) he is now largely anonymous. I'm suspecting this is due to tiredness mind you, as the lad's got more potential / skill of any Chelsea player since Robben. He just needs to work on his fitness and to learn how to impose himself more when the game isn't going his way.
Aside from all that, this was a solid, professional performance by Chelsea (at least for the last hour anyway). And the 1 v 5 scoreline was just about right.
I will leave you with a little factoid. Demba Ba scored his first Chelsea goal, 35 minutes into his first match. Ba cost 7.5 million pounds. Torres went 12 hours and 12 minutes before he finally scored on his 14th appearance for Chelsea. Torres cost 50 million pounds.
Please note that I'm not getting carried away here and saying Ba is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm fully aware (as he must be) that when we sign Falcao in the summer, Ba will again find himself down the pecking order (Torres will be gone by then), no matter how well he's been playing. But I will go on record and say that a strike force next season of Falcao, Ba, Lukaku and Piazon has the potential (and versatility) to SCORE A LOT OF GOALS.
Brian M Logan
PS: I've been a Chelsea fan my entire life. Literally, I have no memory of ever not being a Chelsea fan. My late sainted mum used to say that I was born with a football at my feet and a Chelsea scarf around my neck. And as any true Chelsea fan knows, you don't follow a 'second team' when you're a Chelsea fan. It's the blues for life, and to hell with the rest of them! Unless maybe you also follow your local team playing in the lower leagues, purely because they play down the road from you (I didn't).
Anyway, as a kid I captained every school football team I ever played for, and idolized the late (GREAT) Peter Osgood. In my own, modest way, I like to think I was a striker molded in the great man's image. So you can imagine how heart-broken I was in 1974 when Ossie was sold to second division Southampton! So much so that from '74 to '77 I adopted Southampton as my 'second team', just so I could cheer him on! And as such I vividly remember the 1976 FA Cup final where Osgood helped Southampton to victory against a much stronger Man Utd team. I remember the 99,000 strong crowd singing 'When the Saints go marching in' (at the old Wembley). I remember Clive 'The Book' Thomas, the greatest referee of his generation (and a proud Welshman!). I remember the roar of the crowd. The green of the grass. All of it. And, while I would've preferred Chelsea being there and lifting the trophy, I'm sure there wasn't a Chelsea fan alive who begrudged seeing a Southampton team with Osgood in it, beating Man Utd in the dying minutes of the match!
PPS: I had many replica Chelsea kits growing up (thanks, mum!). But unfortunately they've all been lost as time has passed on by. But, ironically, the one replica kit I still have (and don't ask me why I've still got this, when all the Chelsea ones have long since vanished), is the one Southampton replica shirt my mum bought me after Ossie moved down the south coast.
Ah, how cute (and tiny) it looks now!
So, the Demba Ba deal has gone through in time for this weekend's FA Cup tie with Southampton. What odds for him to score a brace and win us the game?
Ba gives us a big, 6'2" target man, and a 'Plan B' (which will probably become our Plan A, with Torres being relegated to the bench). He can play with his back to goal, can hold up play, make runs behind defenders, is good in the air, and can finish with both feet. He's not Drogba, don't get me wrong, but for 7 million pounds he's a terrific bit of business. And, so long as his knee injury doesn't flair up, he could well go on to become our top scorer, even though he's missed half the season.
Here are the facts Chelsea fans need to know about him:
1985: Born May 25, in Sevres, France.
2004: Spends five months at Watford but does not do enough to earn a full-time contract with the club.
2005: Signed by Rouen and converted from a midfielder to a striker.
2006: Moves to Belgian side Mouscron but breaks two bones in his leg after scoring in each of his first three games, with the subsequent surgery leading to permanent knee damage.
2007: June 2 - Makes a goalscoring start to his international career with Senegal, scoring in a 1-1 draw with Tanzania.
August - Joins Hoffenheim and helps the club gain promotion to the Bundesliga in his first season.
2009: A proposed move to Stuttgart collapses when Ba fails his medical due to the knee damage suffered in 2006.
2011: January - Another failed medical prevents a move to Barclays Premier League side Stoke, but instead completes a deal to join West Ham on a pay-as-you-play deal.
May - Scores seven goals in 13 games for the Hammers but turns down a new deal when the club are relegated to the npower Championship, triggering a clause in his contract that allows him to negotiate a free transfer away from Upton Park.
June 17 - Newcastle win the race to sign Ba, who signs a three-year deal.
September 24 - Scores first goals for Newcastle with a hat-trick against Blackburn.
December - Named Barclays Premier League player of the month.
2012: March - Voted the best Premier League signing of the season by the league's managers but does not score again for the remainder of the season.
2013: January 2 - European champions Chelsea invoke a minimum-fee release clause in Ba's contract to allow talks between the club and the player's representatives.
January 4 - Signs for Chelsea in a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
Demba Ba has played 66 games in the EPL (for West Ham and Newcastle) and has scored 36 goals, for a goals per game ratio of 1.83.
Torres has played 168 games in the EPL (Liverscum, Chelsea) and has scored 79 goals, for a goals per game ratio of 2.12.
Brian M Logan
Chelsea 0 v 1 QPR
No Chelsea fan worth their blue blood wanted Rafa as the interim manager. Not only is he ex-Liverscum, but it is obvious to anyone with eyes that he couldn't manage his way out of a paper bag. Beyond picking the team, and bringing on a substitute on 60 minutes (never before mind you, no matter what is happening in the game!) we might as well be managed by a wax dummy.
Jose, bless his gifted cotton socks, could spot things going pear-shaped as they were happening and would change formation and / or players immediately. He wouldn't wait until half time. Or until 60 minutes, just because the 'How to Manage a Football Team Manual 101' says that that's the time to make a sub. He'd pull someone off during the first half if necessary. And even sometimes change THREE players at half time because they weren't pulling their weight!
Why? Because Jose didn't need to see the car crashing into the tree to realize that the vehicle had left the highway.
Which is the ideal segue into today's match. The dullest, most error filled game I can remember seeing in a month of Sundays. The Chelsea players, with the exception of maybe Cahill, were anonymous, and were obviously suffering from New Year's Eve hangovers. The way they played was nothing short of a disgrace.
Lampard looked well off the pace (he's too old to play so many games so close together), Torres was even worse than he normally is (if that's possible). Moses was invisible and missed an absolute sitter. Luiz was undisciplined (so what's new). Dave is really starting to f*cking annoy me with all his diving. Plus he gets pushed off the ball very easily, and decidedly average wingers are consistently getting the better of him.
Mata and Hazard came off the bench and gave us a little bit of impetus, but it much was too little, much too late. And even they weren't 'on their game'.
Cahill was the only player who played well today. Other 'pluses' (such as they were) include Marin, who - after a very dodgy start, when he could've been sent off - found a bit of confidence, and started to show some promise (like he did in our pre-season tour of the US). And Ivanovic, who didn't have a particularly good game, but at least never gave up trying.
Our next match is the FA cup third round tie against Southampton. A team who have already gone on record as saying they'll be playing a weakened team. So don't you think THAT GAME would be the game to play our B-Team in, NOT THIS ALL IMPORTANT PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH? Yeah, that would be far too logical wouldn't it, Rafa? Much better to lose at home to one of the few teams Chelsea fans hate with a passion.
This game was a DISGRACE. The sooner we sign some new players (especially a new centre forward - the Ba deal appears to be done, so more news on this soon), the better. At least with someone else up front we might actually have a chance of scoring.
Brian M Logan
Super Frankie Lampard gave Roman and his henchmen a lot to think about today, as he played like the Frank of old to score a brace and win the game for Chelsea against a very unlucky Everton team.
Chelsea's new policy of not offering more than a one year contract to players over 30 is laudable. As a policy 'guideline', I wholeheartedly agree with it. But there have to be cases (such as Frank) where the player is playing so well that they are deserving of a two year deal, despite their age (34 in Frank's case).
In the Club World Cup final Frank looked well off the pace, and shouldn't have started. But since then, the more game time he's been getting, the better he's been playing. And with 501 league games under his belt, Frank is a player used to playing week in week out.
This game couldn't have started any worse for Chelsea, with Steven Pienaar scoring for the home team in the second minute! Indeed, for 15 minutes there was only one team in it (and it wasn't us). But that kind of high pressing game really saps the strength of whoever is doing all the running, and after about 20 minutes Everton started to run out of puff, which allowed us to get a foothold in the match.
Frank scoring just before half-time was probably a fair reflection on the first half overall, and I expected Everton to start the second half the way they started the first. But for some reason they didn't, and the contest continued to look pretty even, with Chelsea having the better of the play, but Everton having the better of the chances, hitting the woodwork no less than three times in the match.
Also, Cech was substituted at half time with an ankle injury, with Ross Turnbull (a very average keeper) coming on. But, to be fair, Ross did quite well when called upon.
Lampard popping up in the right place at the right time to grab the second on 72 minutes was just the bit of luck we needed. And from there we never really looked like letting the lead go.
Take out from this game is that Torres was all but invisible, and Luiz has the worst pass completion rate in the history of football. Neither of which is exactly breaking news. Also, Mata and Hazard both had quiet games by their standard. And Oscar needs to start more games, as he always seems to make a difference once he's on.
Brian M Logan
VERY happy that Daniel Sturridge is being sent to the knackers’ yard. Sorry, err, to Liverfool.
So many blues I know can’t wait to see the back of him. He is the most selfish player we’ve had for years, and his ego continues to write cheques that his talent can’t cash. Don’t let the small matter of his being English gloss over the fact that Sturridge is a one trick pony. And, if the rumours of his not being liked in the dressing room are true (no doubt to do with the selfish tw*t NEVER passing the ball, even when there are a half dozen Chelsea players in better positions to score!), then the sooner we’re rid of him the better.
Now if only Torres can be convinced to leave as well, maybe we can buy some real strikers...
Of course Torres isn’t going anywhere until the summer (when Falcao will hopefully arrive), but with Sturridge gone we’re going to have to go out and buy a new striker in January (“At last!”). Citeh and Man Utd have 4 strikers each, and we have one. (Can we count Torres as a .5 of a striker do you think?) Something that is seriously hindering our chances of winning back the title.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some really talented young strikers coming through (Piazón, Lukaku etc). But none of them are ready to carry the team on their back, like Drogba did.
I just hope that we don’t go out and sign another ‘second striker’. Because in Mata, Hazard, et al, we’ve got more than enough of them. We need a big, strong, skilful number 9. Someone who can play with his back to goal and who can make the incisive runs behind the defenders. Someone who can bag 20-30 goals a season, scare the crap out of opponents, and who can challenge Torres for the ‘one striker up front’ role he now occupies by default.
Only then will we have a chance of winning a trophy or two this year.
Brian M Logan
PS: BRING BACK THE SPECIAL ONE IN THE SUMMER!!!