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  1. Drogba11CFC

    An Impossible Man

    So that's what Ken Livingstone has been up to.
  2. On Monday evening, Spencer sat down to watch the draw for the FA Cup 5th round. “The first ball out is... number 5.” “Aston Villa, and they are at home to…” “Number 12.” “Bournemouth or Portsmouth.” “Number 14.” “Sunderland.” “Number 6.” “Are at home to Ipswich Town.” “Number 1.” “Manchester City or Manchester United.” “Number 3.” “Will play Leicester City or Liverpool.” “Number 15.” “Shrewsbury Town or Nottingham Forest.” “Number 9.” “Are at home to Tottenham Hotspur or Watford.” “Number 7.” “Wigan Athletic or Middlesbrough.” “Will play number 13.” “And that is Peterborough United.” “Number 8.” “Chelsea or Leeds United.” “Are at home to number 11.” “And they are at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.” “Number 16.” “Cardiff City, will play…” “Number 2.” “Newcastle United or West Ham United.” And finally, number 10.” “West Bromwich Albion or Norwich City.” “Number 4.” “Are at home to Crystal Palace or Southend United.” In the FA Cup, Bournemouth beat Portsmouth 4-1 on Tuesday night. Wednesday's games saw Crystal Palace dispatch Southend 2-0, while in the Manchester Derby, Jetro Willems marked his £10.25M move from Ajax with an own goal to give United victory. Watford pulled off a shock, winning 1-0 at Tottenham thanks to an 89th minute goal by Christian Kabasele.
  3. Chelsea looked to stay top of the league when Manchester City came to Stamford Bridge. Although City had won their last three league games against Chelsea, they were missing both Gabriel Jesus and Agüero through injury. They had also won just one of their last five away games, while Chelsea were unbeaten in the league since October. Although Costa was back from injury, Spencer elected to start Batshuayi. Chelsea Courtois Azpilicueta Luiz Cahill Alonso Matic Fàbregas Kanté Willian Batshuayi Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Aké, Zouma, Camacho, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Costa Man City Bravo Zabaleta Kompany Otamendi Clichy Fernandinho Gündogan Touré Sané De Bruyne Silva Substitutes: Caballero, Stones, Nolito, Sterling, Fernando, Brooks, Ambrose Referee: Martin Atkinson The visitors had won the previous season's corresponding fixture 3-0 but a repeat looked unlikely as early as the fourth minute when Claudio Bravo had to throw himself in front of the ball to ensure that a cross from Willian wouldn't go into the net. A minute later, it took a last ditch tackle by Otamendi to stop Batshuayi from getting a shot. In the eighth minute, Batshuayi looked to turn provider, finding an open Hazard whose shot from a tight angle was cleared by Clichy. In the thirteenth minute, Fàbregas won the ball from Gündogan and fed the ball to Hazard. Hazard played a great ball to Batshuayi, who got in the clear but was denied by brilliant save by Bravo. Chelsea won three corners in quick succession and from the third one, Fernandinho headed clear. Fàbregas won the ball back and lofted it to Matic, who passed to Kanté. Kanté tried his luck from 20 yards, but was denied by Bravo. Fernandinho was then shown a yellow card for a trip on Batshuayi. Chelsea were dominant, and in the seventeenth minute a Manchester City corner was cleared by Cahill. Fàbregas took the ball out of the area before sending a long ball to Batshuayi on the right Batshuayi played a good pass to find Hazard on the left, and Hazard drove the ball ahead of Batshuayi. In acres of space, Batshuayi took the ball into the area before striking a low shot under Bravo and into the opposite corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season, prompting the Chelsea fans to break out an adaptation of the theme tune from the 1960s Batman TV show. The visitors looked to respond straight away, and two minutes later some good build up play saw Sané try his luck, only to be denied by Courtois, who had been sent off in the previous season's fixture. City attacked again, and De Bruyne played a one-two with Touré before shooting high. Fernandinho sent a shot wide in the 22nd minute, which would prove to be costly. A minute later, a corner by Fàbregas was caught by Bravo, but his long ball to David Silva was intercepted by Azpilicueta, who headed the ball to Fàbregas. Fàbregas passed back to Azpilicueta, who sent a pass down the line for Willian. Willian took the ball down the right before passing to Kanté. The ball was intercepted by Touré, but he was then caught napping by Batshuayi, who passed to Hazard. Hazard sent a shot looping over Bravo to double Chelsea's lead. A minute later, David Silva sent a shot over the bar. In the 25th minute, Alonso passed back to Courtois, who sent a long ball to Willian. Willian played an even longer ball into space for Batshuayi to run onto. Batshuayi looked to score again, but was denied by Bravo. Ten minutes later, De Bruyne played a one-two with Sané before hitting the ball wide. Gael Clichy’s name was taken in the 37th minute for a foul on Willian, before Marcos Alonso was booked in the first minute of stoppage time for a trip on Sané. Guardiola made a change at half time, replacing Touré with Fernando. Chelsea started the second half as they'd started the first, and it took less than two minutes for Hazard to play a one-two with Batshuayi before having a shot which went flying over the bar. A minute later, a header by Kompany was tipped over the bar by Courtois. From the resulting corner, De Bruyne sent a header over. Sané was the next to try his luck, with a header which was saved by Courtois. In the 50th minute, Chelsea won a free kick. Fernandinho cleared, but only as far as Fàbregas. Fàbregas beat Gündogan and passed to Batshuayi, who found Hazard. Hazard squared the ball to Willian, whose shot was turned behind by Bravo. Three minutes later, Clichy sent a cross to Fernandinho who, from 20 yards out, hit a volley which took a slight deflection off Alonso and cannoned back off the bar before Cahill hacked it clear. In the 55th minute, Azpilicueta threw the ball in to Willian. Willian, from a tight angle, played the ball to his left, and it hit the post before being cleared behind by Otamendi. Three minutes later, a cross from Zabaleta was cleared by Cahill but only to Gündogan, who volleyed the ball over the bar. As the clock passed the hour mark, Willian sent a long ball to Batshuayi, who skipped past Otamendi before sending a cross to the far post. Kompany headed clear, but Kanté intercepted, volleying the ball over the bar. Two minutes later, Kanté sent a long ball to Hazard, whose shot from a tight angle hit the side netting. In the 65th minute, a lovely pass by Batshuayi found Willian, who took the ball into the area before letting fly. The ball seemed destined for the top corner, but Bravo got across with a good save. Manchester City then made a double change, replacing Zabaleta with Stones and Gündogan with Sterling. With twenty minutes left, Kanté played a superb pass to Hazard, whose shot was tipped away by Bravo. Hazard was running the show and with eleven minutes left, he tried a shot from a tight angle which was denied by the frame of the goal. With eight minutes left, Spencer replaced Fàbregas with Camacho before Kanté put a shot wide with six minutes remaining. A John Stones cross was headed wide by Silva with five minutes to go, before Chelsea went straight to the other end and Batshuayi was denied a second goal as Bravo tipped the shot over the bar. Spencer replaced Alonso with Nathan Aké as the clock ticked down, but a dominant performance saw Chelsea pick up another massive victory and briefly move five points clear of Arsenal. 28th January 2017, 12:45: Barclays Premier League - at Stamford Bridge, London Chelsea 2-0 Man City (Batshuayi 17, Hazard 23) Man of the Match: Eden Hazard In the press conference after the match, Spencer said, “We were excellent and thoroughly deserved this win, I'm really proud of the team.” Chelsea twitter was buzzing after the match; Ava Jenkins posted “Man City looked broken by the end of that, think we're actually gonna do it you know!” while Steve Ashforth wrote “Huge moment in the title race, what a win! George Spencer is a mastermind!” The mood was a lot more sombre on the opposing side; Bob Haynes posted “Really thought we'd win today, a draw wouldn't have been the end of the world but a defeat is a complete disaster, gutted.” Dennis Ward stated “That's it, title hopes are over. Congratulations to Chelsea.” Sid Collingwood, meanwhile, was just as critical of City's... interesting choice of third kit as he was of their performance. However, he was full of praise for the home side, saying “A stark contrast to Mourinho's parked bus, it looks as though Spencer is just what Chelsea needed. They looked dangerous every time they went forward, and this was without Diego Costa in the side.” In the Friday night game, a Yannick Bolasie equaliser saw Everton hold Man Utd to a 1-1 draw at Goodison. Arsenal cut the gap back to two points with a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth, while two penalties and an own goal saw Stoke win 3-0 at Crystal Palace. This proved to be the final straw for the board, and the board (including Jeremy Hosking, who was negotiating the purchase of another steam locomotive, 60532 Blue Peter), after a quick meeting, sacked Sam Allardyce. Swansea and Sunderland played out a goalless draw in South Wales, while Leicester won 2-0 at West Brom. In the 5:30 kickoff, Southampton came from behind to beat Liverpool 2-1. New signing Marcel Sabitzer opened the scoring for the reds, but Charlie Austin equalised after half time before Nathan Redmond got the winner in the 89th minute. In the Sunday games, three goals in the opening 21 minutes saw Burnley on their way to a 3-2 win at Middlesbrough, while a last minute own goal by Winston Reid denied West Ham victory over Tottenham. On Monday night, Watford beat Hull 2-1 to move into the top four. It was perhaps unsurprising that Spencer was named Manager of the Month for the second month running. Chelsea had won all five of their league games, although Walter Mazzari had also guided Watford to a similar record. The award was decided on goal difference, while Arsène Wenger came in third. Pos Inf Team P W D L F A GD Pts 1st Chelsea 24 16 5 3 50 23 27 53 2nd Arsenal 24 16 3 5 51 16 35 51 3rd Man Utd 24 15 3 6 53 21 32 48 4th Watford 24 14 5 5 37 27 10 47 5th Man City 24 13 5 6 40 23 17 44 6th Tottenham 24 9 14 1 39 21 18 41 7th Liverpool 24 12 4 8 52 39 13 40 8th Bournemouth 24 11 4 9 32 32 0 37 9th Leicester 24 10 7 7 28 36 -8 37 10th Burnley 24 10 5 9 27 31 -4 35 11th Southampton 24 9 7 8 32 32 0 34 12th West Ham 24 7 8 9 32 31 1 29 13th Everton 24 7 7 10 28 30 -2 28 14th Sunderland 24 7 7 10 25 35 -10 28 15th West Brom 24 6 5 13 22 38 -16 23 16th Stoke 24 5 6 13 25 38 -13 21 17th Swansea 24 5 6 13 22 41 -19 21 18th Middlesbrough 24 5 4 15 19 41 -22 19 19th Hull 24 3 9 12 21 44 -23 18 20th Crystal Palace 24 1 4 19 7 43 -36 7
  4. Chelsea travelled to Hull for their next match. Costa had failed a fitness test so he was still out of the squad, but Batshuayi had scored on his last two appearances so he started. With Matic on a yellow card and Manchester City looming, Spencer opted to play Camacho behind Kanté and Fàbregas. Hull City Marshall Elabdellaoui Maguire Ranocchia Robertson Henriksen Huddlestone Markovic Evandro Grosicki Berbatov Substitutes: Jakupovic, Davies, Clucas, Mbokani, Mason, Dawson, Keane Chelsea Courtois Azpilicueta Luiz Cahill Alonso Camacho Fàbregas Kanté Willian Batshuayi Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Aké, Zouma, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Jiménez The match, however, started disastrously for Chelsea and Gary Cahill. Huddlestone searched out Markovic on the right, and Markovic got past Alonso before knocking the ball towards the far post. Cahill tried to intercept, but instead managed to send it past Courtois into his own net after just 24 seconds. Chelsea's first chance came after just 14 minutes. Willian sent a free kick into the box. David Luiz got his head to it, but sent it wide. In the 18th minute, Cahill made up for his error, charging down a shot from Evandro. In the 21st minute, Chelsea won a corner. Fàbregas aimed at the far post, but Robertson cut the pass out. Alonso headed the ball to Kanté, who hit a low shot straight at Marshall. A minute later, Willian got past Robertson and passed to Batshuayi whose shot from six yards hit the side netting. In the 35th minute, a pass from Kanté found Batshuayi, whose shot was deflected wide off Ranocchia for a corner. In the 39th minute, a throw in by Alonso found Hazard. Hazard sent the ball to Fàbregas, who launched a powerful shot into the top corner to bring Chelsea level. It took just two minutes of the second half for Chelsea to attack. Willian sent a free kick into the area, where David Luiz headed wide. Two minutes later, Batshuayi tried his luck, being played in by Fàbregas before firing wide. In the 51st minute, a Hull corner was claimed easily by Courtois. Courtois sent a long ball upfield to Batshuayi, who rose above Robertson and nodded the ball to Willian. Willian passed to Kanté, who sent a long ball to Hazard on the wing. Hazard outpaced Elabdellaoui before sending a cross from the byline, which Willian met with a bullet header to give Chelsea the lead. Hull then withdrew Markovic, replacing him with Clucas. In the 59th minute, Henriksen was booked for a foul on Fàbregas. Willian took the free kick, but sent the ball over the bar. Two minutes later, Hull replaced Evandro and Berbatov with Mason and Mbokani. In the 62nd minute, Kanté passed through to Hazard, who couldn't get his shot on target. With fourteen minutes left, Chelsea replaced David Luiz with Zouma. Zouma made an impact with ten minutes to go, blocking a shot by Ryan Mason. With seven minutes left, Zouma was penalised for a trip on Mbokani. However, Huddlestone sent the free kick wide. Chelsea then replaced a misfiring Batshuayi with Jiménez. As time ran down, Chelsea replaced Fàbregas with Matic, but Hull barely threatened. 21st January 2017, 15:00: Barclays Premier League - at The Circle, Hull Hull City 1-2 Chelsea (Cahill og 1; Fàbregas 39, Willian 51) Man of the Match: Eden Hazard At the final whistle, Spencer and his players went over to the away end to applaud the visiting supporters, who had spent much of the second half singing a chant from two years prior, “We're top of the league”. In the lunchtime kickoff, Stoke City had come from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium, allowing Chelsea to go two points clear at the top of the table - the first time that they'd been top since May 2015. Garry Baker summed up the fans’ views with “Delighted to see us back on top. Now to stay there for as long as possible.” In the other games, Burnley beat West Brom 2-0 despite a red card for James Tarkowski. A second half goal by Nolito saw Man City squeeze past Middlesbrough and move back above Watford, who had briefly moved into the top four after winning 1-0 at Dean Court on Friday Night, while Tottenham slipped further out of sight with a 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland. In the evening kickoff, Man Utd won 3-0 at home to Crystal Palace. Sunday saw Leicester beat West Ham 1-0, while Swansea eased the pressure on manager Paul Clement with a 2-1 win over Liverpool thanks to a late Routledge goal. The blue half of Merseyside fared better on Monday night, beating Southampton 4-0. Monday also saw two FA Cup replays take place; Middlesbrough beat Hull 1-0 while Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-0 at White Hart Lane. There were numerous games taking place in midweek. Tuesday saw Sunderland win 1-0 at Barnsley in the FA Cup fourth round; the FA’s decision to play ties involving Premier League sides in midweek had united the football community in righteous indignation, summed up by Sid Collingwood under the headline “IS NOTHING SACRED?”. In the EFL Cup, Manchester City overturned a 1-0 first leg deficit with a 4-1 win over Bournemouth. Wednesday's FA Cup games saw Leicester book their place in the fourth round with a 3-0 win over Port Vale. In the fourth round, Stoke lost 4-2 at home to Ipswich while West Brom could only draw 1-1 with Norwich. In the EFL Cup, Tottenham beat Middlesbrough 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate to advance to the final. Thursday's FA Cup tie saw Crystal Palace beat Walsall 4-1.
  5. Drogba11CFC

    2018/19 FMS Fantasy Football League

    Just joined - Sarri Potter FC.
  6. Chelsea's FA Cup replay with Sheffield Wednesday would take place on Wednesday night. Spencer had decided to leave nothing to chance and field the strongest side he had at his disposal, having played in Chelsea's cup defeat at Barnsley and attended the defeat against Bradford City two years earlier. Costa was still out, but Pedro was in with a chance, and Spencer had asked the first physio he encountered to report back to him the result of the winger's fitness test. Two hours before kick off, Eva Carneiro was the physio who knocked on the door of Spencer's office. “Well?” Spencer asked. “I don't think he's ready.” Carneiro responded. “Damn,” Spencer retorted. “In that case, we'll just have to go with what we've got.” The game between Arsenal and Tottenham had been snapped up by BBC1 and Radio 5 Live, with BT Sport taking Liverpool against Burnley, so any Chelsea fans would have to make do with score updates or BBC Radio London. Chelsea: Courtois Azpilicueta David Luiz Cahill Marcos Alonso Matic Fàbregas Kanté Willian Batshuayi Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Aké, Terry, Musonda, Loftus-Cheek, Camacho, Jiménez Sheff Wed: Wildsmith Palmer Lees Loovens Pudil Hutchinson Adelaide Abdi Lee Bannan Fletcher Substitutes: Westwood, Sasso, Forestieri, Rhodes, Jones, Hunt, Wallace Even the most optimistic Owls fan would have suspected that the writing was on the wall after seeing the Chelsea lineup and it took just seven minutes for Chelsea to have their first chance, a free kick which Willian sent over the bar. Sheffield Wednesday did force a corner, which came to nothing. In the 21st minute, Hazard raced into the box, but was dispossessed. The clearance, however, only found Alonso, who passed to Matic. Matic passed to Kanté, who found Fàbregas. Fàbregas threaded the ball into the path of Batshuayi, who fired it past Wildsmith to give Chelsea the lead. Lees was livid, and told the referee that it was clearly offside, but Batshuayi had timed his run perfectly. In the 26th minute, Chelsea attacked again. An excellent ball from Matic found Batshuayi, who raced to the edge of the area before hitting a shot straight at Wildsmith. Two minutes later, Kanté found Batshuayi with a forward pass, and the Belgian played a one-two with Hazard before getting into the box and hitting another shot at Wildsmith, much to his disbelief. Chelsea had dominated and it wasn't until the 32nd minute that the visitors had a sniff at goal. Adelaide sent a lofted ball into the area for Fletcher, whose header was no problem for Courtois. In the 35th minute, Lees entered Stephen Tomlinson's book for obstructing Batshuayi. Willian came close, his free kick skimming the top of the bar. Chelsea continued to dominate, and in the 41st minute, Willian sent a cross into the area. Loovens impeded Fàbregas, and Stephen Tomlinson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Hazard stepped up and blasted the ball into the top corner, sending Wildsmith the wrong way. The second half started quietly, with nothing much happening until around the hour mark, where Chelsea replaced Matic with Camacho and the visitors brought on Rhodes and Jones for Fletcher and Hutchinson. In the 62nd minute, a wonderful pass from Hazard found Batshuayi, whose shot from a narrow angle was palmed away by Wildsmith. Chelsea then won a corner, from which Willian headed inches wide, before the visitors replaced Adelaide with Wallace. Midway through the second half, Wednesday did manage to get an attack in, but Kanté blocked Wallace's cross. A minute later, a free kick was cleared by Luiz, and Marcos Alonso found himself the furthest man upfield. The Spaniard eluded Pudil before launching a hopeful strike from 35 yards, which went some way wide. In the 70th minute, Camacho cut out a pass by Loovens and passed to Kanté. Kanté took the ball into the Wednesday half before moving it left to Alonso. Alonso passed to Fàbregas, who passed forward to Kanté. Kanté brought Hazard into play, and Hazard passed to Batshuayi. Batshuayi played in Willian, whose left footed shot found the bottom corner to effectively end the game as a contest with his tenth goal of the season. Spencer then opted to bring on Musonda for Hazard. With eighteen minutes remaining, Cahill gave away a free kick. Jones’ shot was headed clear by Fàbregas, but only as far as Wallace. Wallace went for goal, but Courtois got across to tip the shot wide. With eleven minutes left, Chelsea were awarded a free kick just outside the box. Willian made no mistake, hitting a powerful shot over the wall and into the net to put the icing on the cake. Two minutes later, Chelsea were awarded another free kick. Willian sent the ball into the area, but Abdi cleared it behind. With three minutes left, Loftus-Cheek came on to replace Kanté, as Chelsea booked their place in the fourth round. 18th January 2017, 19:45: FA Cup third round replay - at Stamford Bridge, London Chelsea 4-0 Sheff Wed (Batshuayi 21, Hazard pen 42, Willian 70, 79) Man of the Match: Willian The other replays had seen Liverpool come back from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 with Burnley before eventually winning 5-4 on penalties. An early goal by Llorente saw Swansea eliminate West Ham, but the big news came from the City Ground, where Nottingham Forest crushed Southampton 5-0, which included two goals from former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner. To add insult to injury, Southampton had fielded a relatively strong side. A brace from Afobe helped Bournemouth to a 2-1 win over Cheltenham, while Peterborough United dispatched Bristol Rovers 2-0. Leicester City had to rely on a late equaliser from Nampalys Mendy to earn a replay against Port Vale after going 2-0 down, while Walsall held Crystal Palace to a 1-1 draw. The pick of Wednesday's games was Arsenal against Tottenham. A seesaw clash saw Tottenham take the lead after three minutes through Kane, only for Arsenal to lead 2-1 after fifteen through a brace from Sanchez. Erik Lamela equalised after the break and Kane's second gave Tottenham the lead, but Oxlade-Chamberlain rescued the Gunners with five minutes left. Elsewhere, Hull City took a 2-0 lead against Middlesbrough with less than ten minutes to go, but Boro fought back to earn a replay. Man City, meanwhile, comfortably beat QPR 2-0.
  7. Drogba11CFC

    An Impossible Man

    One line? If Sid Collingwood (see my story) was reading this he'd probably conclude that Whiteman's crossed more lines so far in the story than there are at Clapham Junction. (The northern bit, where the Southern and South Western lines briefly run parallel) He has struck me as being a bit of a straw-man character though.
  8. Chelsea travelled to Stoke facing a potentially dicey situation. Pedro was still being treated for a twisted knee sustained at Sheffield Wednesday, while Kurt Zouma had suffered a broken nose and Diego Costa a groin strain in the same match. Marcos Alonso started, largely due to a man of the match performance in his previous appearance, but also because José Gayà was out for at least five weeks with a double hernia. This fixture was one of many that Chelsea had lost under Mourinho the previous season. Stoke: Grant Johnson Shawcross Indi Muniesa Lafita Allen Imbula Arnautovic Shaqiri Crouch Substitutes: Given, Bardsley, Whelan, Jokelainen, Cameron, Gallacher, Adam Chelsea: Courtois Azpilicueta David Luiz Cahill Marcos Alonso Matic Fàbregas Kanté Willian Batshuayi Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Aké, Terry, Musonda, Loftus-Cheek, Camacho, Jiménez Referee: Stuart Atwell Chelsea started brightly and in the fourth minute, Willian sent a free kick into the area. David Luiz rose highest, but his header went just wide. Barely three minutes later, Willian played a pass to Batshuayi, who didn't strike the ball cleanly. In the eighth minute, Alonso passed the ball forward to Kanté. Kanté played forward to Batshuayi, whose shot was blocked by Imbula. In the eighteenth minute, Fàbregas played the ball to Batshuayi, whose shot was again blocked, this time by Shawcross. Two minutes later, Marcos Alonso got away from Shaqiri and passed to Fàbregas. Fàbregas found Batshuayi, whose hopeful shot was hit straight at Grant. In the 23rd minute, Indi conceded a free kick. Willian looked to shoot, but scooped the ball well over. It wasn't until the 28th minute that Stoke had their first chance. Joe Allen passed to Crouch, whose long range effort went over. In the 30th minute, a ball into space by Fàbregas was cleared by Glen Johnson. The former Chelsea defender's header was intercepted by Kanté, who took the ball past Allen and passed to Hazard. Hazard set off on a surging run before letting fly. His shot looked destined for the top corner, but Grant turned it against the post and behind as Stoke struggled to weather the Chelsea storm. Ten minutes later, Cahill passed to Alonso on the left. Alonso found Kanté, before Fàbregas took over. Fàbregas played in Matic, who passed to Kanté. Kanté passed to Hazard, who beat two Stoke players before sending a shot wide. In the 42nd minute, a long ball by Muniesa was intercepted by Matic. Matic headed the ball to Kanté, who sent a glorious ball to Hazard. Hazard, with all the time in the world, found Batshuayi, who, with an open goal, hit a low shot into the bottom corner. Chelsea replaced a tiring Matic with Camacho at half time as they looked to start the second half as they'd finished the first. Less than two minutes in, Hazard Hazard set off on another run to the byline, where he turned Indi before sending in a cross. Batshuayi headed the ball goalwards, but Grant somehow kept it out, tipping it against the underside of the bar. In the 53rd minute, Batshuayi rose above Shawcross and headed the ball on to Hazard. Hazard set off on another run to the D, before shooting wide again. Five minutes later, Johnson was booked for a trip on Hazard, as Stoke replaced Lafita and Imbula with Cameron and Whelan. Willian stepped up and sent the ball into the net off the bar with a great strike. Gary Neville, commenting on Sky Sports, stated that Chelsea were “looking unbeatable at present”. However, Stoke nearly got back into the game almost immediately. A free kick by Shaqiri was headed clear by Camacho, and then Willian, but Muniesa got to it and hit it first time to Shaqiri. Shaqiri’s header found was intercepted by Cahill, but Cameron played a quick pass to Shaqiri in the area. Shaqiri found Whelan, who was wide open, but didn't strike the ball cleanly. Chelsea searched for a third and in the 63rd minute, Willian headed the ball to Batshuayi. Batshuayi played a square ball to Hazard, who passed to Willian. Willian passed to Batshuayi, who played in Hazard, but Hazard's shot was blocked by Shawcross. Muniesa’s clearance was intercepted by Luiz, who headed the ball on to Camacho. Camacho found Kanté with a forward pass, and Kanté found Hazard, whose shot was blocked by Indi. With fifteen minutes left, Allen got past Camacho and sent a cross into the area. Crouch got there ahead of Luiz and volleyed the ball past Courtois to give Stoke a glimmer of hope. Right from the kick off, Chelsea attacked. Cahill found Batshuayi with a good pass, and Batshuayi found Willian out wide. Willian took the ball past Muniesa before sending a cross into the area which Grant caught. Then, Fàbregas found Willian, who was too quick for Muniesa and passed to Fàbregas. Fàbregas played in Kanté, who slipped the ball to Hazard. Hazard's shot from a narrow angle was turned around the post by Grant. Chelsea then replaced Kanté with Loftus-Cheek. With ten minutes to go, Bardsley was booked for a trip on Hazard. Willian looked to double his tally, but sent the shot sailing over the bar. With four minutes left, Hazard sent a cross into the box, but Martins Indi once again blocked Batshuayi’s shot. Whelan was then booked for a foul on Camacho before Aké came on to replace Cahill. From the free kick, Shawcross and Indi blocked efforts from Willian and Hazard. With time almost up, Muniesa passed to Cameron, who played it back 30 yards to Indi. Indi passed to Whelan, who played it to Cameron. Cameron found Shaqiri, who gave it back to him, before passing to Whelan. Whelan went for goal, with a shot which whistled just wide of the post, although Courtois had it covered. 15th January 2017, 16:00: Barclays Premier League - at bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea (Crouch 75; Batshuayi 42, Willian 58) Man of the Match: Willian Attendance: 27,594 (2,774 away) In the Friday night game, Burnley drew 2-2 with Sunderland. The Saturday lunchtime game saw Arsenal travel to Goodison. Giroud gave Arsenal a half time lead, but Kevin Mirallas equalised shortly after the break. Leighton Baines then missed a penalty with twelve minutes left, before Seamus Coleman was sent off with five minutes left for a foul on Sanchez in the box. Oliver Giroud fired the ball into the top corner to give Arsenal the three points and keep them top of the league. Bournemouth beat Middlesbrough 4-0 to remain in contention for a European place, while Southampton could only draw at Crystal Palace. A wonderful strike by Coutinho saw Liverpool win 1-0 at Leicester, who had Wes Morgan sent off in the nineteenth minute for going in on Can with both feet. Tottenham notched up a 3-0 win at home to Swansea. In the 5:30 kickoff, early goals from Yaya Touré and David Silva saw Man City beat West Ham 2-0 to remain in the top four. The other Sunday game saw Hull beat West Brom 2-0 to move out of the relegation zone thanks to two Berbatov penalties, but the big news was at Old Trafford the following night. Man Utd dominated Watford, with Ander Herrera missing an early penalty, but in the 89th minute Amrabat opened his Watford account, firing a low shot into the opposite corner, to give Watford the points. It was Mourinho's first home defeat as United manager, and his third successive defeat in the league. He took it with incredibly bad grace, once again branding Watford "lucky" and Walter Mazzari "bitter". Having previously been six points clear at the top, United were now in third, with Arsenal leading Chelsea by one point.
  9. On Monday night, the draw for the 4th round of the FA Cup was made. Several ties had yet to be played; Arsenal vs Tottenham would not take place for over a week due to TV scheduling, while an outbreak of food poisoning at Loftus Road had seen QPR's game at Manchester City postponed. Several other ties, including Leicester's match at Port Vale, had fallen victim to the weather. "So, the first ball out is..." "Number 18." "Number 18, Manchester City or Queen's Park Rangers...wow." "Number 26." "Will play Manchester United!" "Number 32." "Newcastle United." "Number 7." "Will play West Ham or Swansea City." "Number 22." "Port Vale or Leicester City, that one rained off..." "Number 16" "Will play Burnley or Liverpool." "Number 6." "Walsall or Crystal Palace." "Number 20." "Are at home to Southend United." "Number 25." "Bristol City." "Number 5." "Will play Aston Villa." "Number 12." "Stoke City." "Number 28." "Will play Ipswich Town or Gillingham." "Number 31." "Wigan Athletic." "Number 15." "Will face Hull City or Middlesbrough." "Number 29." "Sheffield Wednesday or Chelsea." "Number 17." "And the winners of the replay will play Coventry City or Leeds United." "Number 30." "Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur." "Number 3." "Will play Carlisle United or Watford." "Number 23." "West Bromwich Albion." "Number 19." "Are at home to Norwich City." "Number 10." "Reading." "Number 4." "Will play Brighton & Hove Albion." "Number 21." "AFC Bournemouth or Cheltenham Town." "Number 24." "Will be at home to Portsmouth." "Number 27." "Birmingham City or Burton Albion." "Number 2." "Will play Peterborough United or Bristol Rovers." "Number 1." "Barnsley." "Number 13." "Are at home to Sunderland." "Number 9." "Shrewsbury Town, who will play..." "Number 14." "Shrewsbury Town will play Southampton or Nottingham Forest." "Number 11." "Brentford." "Number 8." "Are at home to Cardiff City."
  10. The FA Cup third round saw Chelsea travel to Hillsborough for the second time that season. Spencer decided to rotate his squad, and Begovic, Alonso and Batshuayi all came into the side. However, Chelsea's bench was still a strong one, with Luiz, Hazard and Diego Costa all featuring. Sheff Wed Wildsmith Palmer Lees Loovens Pudil Hutchinson Abdi Lee Adelaide Fletcher Reach Substitutes: Westwood, Sasso, Bannan, Rhodes, Jones, Hunt, Forestieri Chelsea: Begovic Azpilicueta Zouma Cahill Marcos Alonso Camacho Kanté Matic Willian Batshuayi Pedro Substitutes: Courtois, Luiz, Gayà, Hazard, Terry, Fàbregas, Diego Costa Referee: Paul Tierney Chelsea were dealt a severe blow as early as the seventh minute when Pedro twisted his knee and had to be replaced by Hazard. In the tenth minute, Batshuayi was brought down by Hutchinson, the former Chelsea defender earning a yellow card. It was Hazard who had the first chance, as he received the ball from Matic before letting fly with a shot which Wildsmith got up to tip over the bar. Two minutes later, Willian crossed the ball to Alonso, who whose shot was also tipped over by Wildsmith. From the corner, Batshuayi had a shot which was charged down by Loovens. Willian was the next player to have an effort. His free kick was headed clear but he regained possession and got past Hutchinson before shooting straight at Wildsmith. Another chance came in the 33rd minute, when Marcos Alonso's free kick was cleared by Loovens. Hazard intercepted the clearance and passed to Kanté, who hit a first time shot over the bar. Sheffield Wednesday had been on the back foot but in the 37th minute, Abdi let fly from 25 yards with a shot which Begovic managed to turn behind. Abdi had another chance in stoppage time, which Begovic tipped behind, while Adelaide couldn't get a header on target. Sheffield Wednesday started the second half quickly, as Fletcher saw a shot tipped behind by Begovic before sending a header wide. Forestieri then replaced Reach, before Rhodes replaced Fletcher. Midway through the second half, Lee saw a volley turned behind by Begovic, before Chelsea replaced Batshuayi with Diego Costa. Pudil was then booked for a foul on Willian. With eleven minutes left, Fàbregas came on to replace Camacho. However, two minutes later, Diego Costa pulled up with a groin strain. With three minutes to go, Willian sent a free kick wide. In the dying seconds, Sheffield Wednesday won a corner. Begovic came out to claim it and launched the ball upfield to Costa. Costa headed back to Hazard, who sent an intelligent pass forward to Willian. Willian raced to the edge of the area before hitting a powerful shot which came within inches of winning the tie. 7th January 2017, 15:00: FA Cup third round - at Hillsborough, Sheffield Sheff Wed 0-0 Chelsea Man of the Match: Marcos Alonso In the other games involving Premier League sides, Burnley held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at Turf Moor. Watford were held to a 1-1 draw at Carlisle United, while Sunderland came from behind to win 2-1 at Millwall. Stoke won 1-0 at Rotherham, while Man Utd won 3-1 at Molineux. The Sunday matches saw Everton suffer a shock 5-1 defeat at home to Newcastle, while Southampton came back from 2-0 down at home to Nottingham Forest to earn a 2-2 draw. West Brom beat Plymouth 4-1, while a late Routledge equaliser earned Swansea a 2-2 draw at West Ham. Outside of the Premier League, Aston Villa dispatched Fulham 2-0, while Birmingham could only draw 0-0 with Burton Albion. Barnsley beat MK Dons 2-1, while Brentford won 2-1 at Blackpool. Norwich won at Bolton by the same scoreline, while National League sides Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge lost 3-0 at Brighton and Bristol City respectively. A Will Grigg goal saw Wigan win 1-0 at Charlton, while Coventry had to come back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Leeds United. Huddersfield lost 1-0 at home to Cardiff, while a late equaliser saw Gillingham earn a 1-1 draw at Ipswich. Portsmouth pulled off a major shock with a 3-0 win at home to Derby County, while Reading won 3-1 at Preston North End. Shrewsbury beat Blackburn 3-0, while Southend beat Scunthorpe 1-0.
  11. (A/N: @CFuller will definitely enjoy this one...) The final game of a hectic festive schedule saw Chelsea host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge. The Cherries had won this fixture last season, and Spencer was keen to avoid a repeat. Cesc Fàbregas came back into the side for the suspended Camacho, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek returned to the bench. Chelsea Courtois Azpilicueta David Luiz Cahill Gayà Matic Fàbregas Kanté Pedro Diego Costa Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Terry, Alonso, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Batshuayi Bournemouth Federici Smith Francis Cook Daniels Gradel Arter Wilshere Fraser Wilson King Substitutes: Allsop, Letizia, Surman, Ibe, Pugh, Rekik, Stanislas Referee: Mark Clattenburg The Blues took charge of the game from the outset and in the fourth minute, David Luiz sent a free kick just over the bar. Four minutes later, Kanté exchanged passes with Pedro before hitting a left-footed shot wide. Kanté had another shot a minute after that, hitting a powerful shot which Federici saved. It took until the 14th minute for Bournemouth to have a chance. A clearance by Courtois was headed by Arter to Wilshere, who attempted to emulate David Beckham and lob Courtois from his own half. However, unlike Charlie Adam two years previously, his shot went safely wide. Arter conceded a free kick three minutes later, which David Luiz couldn't get on target. In the nineteenth minute, Costa intercepted a clearance and played the ball to Pedro. Pedro's cross was met by the head of Hazard, whose header was turned behind by Federici. The first yellow card was shown in the 30th minute, as Harry Arter tripped Costa. Four minutes later, a corner from Fàbregas found David Luiz, whose header was just wide. In the 38th minute, a long pass by Kanté found Pedro, who sent a cross in from the byline. Costa got up well, but his header went just over. Chelsea had dominated the first half and their best chance came in the 40th minute. Chelsea were awarded a free kick for a foul on Costa. David Luiz stepped up and sent the ball crashing back off the crossbar, before King cleared. Three minutes later, a corner by Fàbregas was headed over by Kanté. Eddie Howe replaced Pugh with Gradel at half time, but in the 48th minute, a pass by Kanté found Gayà. Gayà got to the byline before centring the ball to the near post, where Costa arrived to stab home from close range in front of the Matthew Harding stand. In the 52nd minute, Matic was booked for a foul on Fraser. Harry Arter went for goal from the free kick, but missed the target. Azpilicueta then went into the book, for a foul on Fraser. Chelsea attacked again on the hour mark and Pedro found Kanté, who couldn't get his shot on target. A minute later, Bournemouth won a free kick, which was blocked by Matic. Chelsea were still dominant, and in the 63rd minute, a cross from Azpilicueta found Costa, whose header was saved by Federici. What little chances Bournemouth were having were being consistently dealt with by the aerial dominance of David Luiz. In the 66th minute, Kanté found Costa, who played a one-two with Hazard before sending a shot just wide of the post. With just under twenty minutes to go, Costa fed in Pedro, who somehow saw his sitter turned behind by Federici. Rekik then came on, replacing Cook. In the 73rd minute, David Luiz sent a free kick just over the bar, before Surman replaced Harry Arter. Spencer also replaced Pedro with Willian. With ten minutes left, Bournemouth had arguably their best chance. A long ball by Azpilicueta was intercepted by Wilshere, who played a one-two with King before playing it forward to Wilson. Wilson moved the ball back to Surman, who found Wilshere. Wilshere fed the ball forward to King, who sent it to Smith on the right. Smith played a one-two with Pugh who crossed the ball into the area. King forced a header goalwards, but Courtois had no problem saving it. A minute later, Hazard tried an audacious shot, which Federici waved wide. Matic was then taken off, with Loftus-Cheek replacing him. With four minutes left, Kanté sent a shot wide. In stoppage time, David Luiz gave away a free kick. Surman played it short to Fraser, who unleashed a long range effort which was straight at Courtois. It was the last chance of a match in which Chelsea deserved their win, despite being below their best. 5th January 2017, 19:45: Barclays Premier League - at Stamford Bridge, London Chelsea 1-0 Bournemouth (Diego Costa 48) Man of the Match: Gary Cahill The big story of the night, however, came from The Emirates, where Arsène Wenger got his first league victory over Mourinho in spectacular style. A goal up after Giroud scored in the seventeenth minute, Arsenal's task was made easier when Paul Pogba saw red - his third sending off in the space of a month - for a shocking two-footed lunge on Bellerín. From then on, it was plain sailing for the Gunners and a second from Giroud was followed by goals from Bellerín, Sanchez and Koscielny as Arsenal replaced United at the top of the league. Not only was it Mourinho's heaviest defeat since losing El Clasico to Barcelona in 2010, it was United's heaviest away defeat since losing 5-0 at Stamford Bridge in 1999. Mourinho called Wenger “impossible to deal with” and said he'd be “very happy to see the back of him”. One person posted a comment on twitter, which read "This is the S*n's coverage of Matic's red card versus Pogba's red card. I wonder what the differential factor might be...", to which Sid Collingwood, who had reported on both matches, replied "Matic kept his nose clean after the West Ham game, while this is Pogba's third red card in a month. But I'd expect nothing less from someone who unironically retweeted an article accusing Thomas the Tank Engine of 'spreading fascist propaganda." Elsewhere, Leicester won 4-0 at Sunderland, while Watford got their European credentials back on track with a 3-1 win over Stoke City. West Brom came from behind to pull off a shock win over Man City, while West Ham beat Burnley 3-0. Tottenham secured a double over Liverpool, Harry Kane's six minute brace earning a 3-1 win at Anfield. Everton somehow failed to win at Selhurst Park, while Southampton beat Swansea 2-1.
  12. The first game of the new year saw José Mourinho make his much-anticipated return to Stamford Bridge. Manchester United led the table, five points ahead of Arsenal with Spencer's Chelsea another point further back. Tensions had been stoked in the day prior to the match; in his pre-match press conference, Spencer had called Mourinho “a bit of a dinosaur” and suggested that United's style of football was “from another century” - an accusation ironically levelled by Mourinho himself at Sam Allardyce after a 0-0 draw between Chelsea and West Ham in 2014. Mourinho, for his part, hit back, calling his former player “a waste of everyone's time”. The rivalry did not go unnoticed on social media either; the YNFA Facebook page posted a comparison image of Mourinho yelling at physio Eva Carneiro during the opening match of the previous season and Spencer consulting his physios during the game at Selhurst Park after José Gayà had sustained a concussion. On a related note, Spencer had managed to convince Carneiro to return to Stamford Bridge. With only 48 hours since the Everton game, Spencer did have to make changes. José Gayà returned to the side, while Kurt Zouma, who had suffered a season-ending injury in the corresponding fixture the previous season, came in for Gary Cahill. Camacho replaced Fàbregas, while Pedro replaced Willian. Chelsea: Courtois Azpilicueta David Luiz Zouma Gayà Camacho Matic Kanté Pedro Diego Costa Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Terry, Alonso, Cahill, Fàbregas, Willian, Batshuayi Man Utd De Gea Valencia Bailly Marcos Rojo Darmian Blind Ander Herrera Pogba Mata Ibrahimovic Martial Substitutes: Romero, Jones, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lingard, Carrick, Rooney Referee: Lee Probert The game was sold out and the first chance fell to the visitors in the fourth minute. Pogba slipped the ball to Mata from a free kick, and the former Chelsea winger played in Martial. Martial hit a curling shot from the edge of the area, which Courtois was able to save. A minute later, Camacho tried to find Kanté, but the midfielder was fouled by Ibrahimovic. The striker, sent off at Stamford Bridge two seasons previously, received a yellow card. The free kick was 35 yards out but that didn't stop David Luiz trying his luck, hitting a shot straight at De Gea. The next chance came from another United free kick, which clattered off Eden Hazard. Chelsea won a corner in the thirteenth minute. Hazard sent the ball into the area and Zouma rose imperiously, only for his looping header to be cleared off the line by Valencia. The ball fell to Blind, who looked to clear it behind, but his clearance struck Matteo Darmian and deflected into the net. Chelsea looked to capitalise and in the fifteenth minute, David Luiz sent a free kick into the stands, before intercepting a header from Pogba and hitting a shot straight at De Gea two minutes later. As the game approached the half hour mark, the visitors looked to equalise. In the 28th minute, Ander Herrera had a crack from long range which Courtois had no trouble dealing with. In the 30th minute, Anthony Martial curled a shot wide, before connecting with a cross from Mata and rifling in a half volley which Courtois had covered a minute later. Chelsea countered, and a minute later Hazard set Gayà free down the left. Gayà crossed the ball to Costa, who hit it straight at De Gea. De Gea spilled the ball, but gathered it at the second attempt. A minute after that, United were awarded a free kick. Mata passed to Ibrahimovic, who fed in Herrera. Herrera had got free in the box, but didn't strike the ball cleanly. Herrera then picked up a yellow card for a trip on Kanté in the 36th minute, before Darmian was booked a minute later for a foul on Pedro. From the resulting free kick, David Luiz saw his shot blocked by Herrera. Ibrahimovic then passed to Martial, who ran all the way to the Chelsea area before being stopped by an expertly timed tackle by Azpilicueta. In the 39th minute, Camacho brought down Pogba. The midfielder passed the ball to Blind, who sent it left to Martial. Martial unleashed a volley from distance, but the ball fizzed past the post. Three minutes before halftime, Mata got into the Chelsea half before passing to Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic fed Martial on the left, who got to the edge of the area before trying an audacious shot which was saved by Courtois. It had been an end to end game so far and both sides looked capable of scoring as halftime approached. In the 45th minute, a De Gea goal kick was intercepted by Gayà, who passed to Hazard. Hazard took the ball into the United half before playing a low forward pass to Costa. Costa laid the ball off to Matic, who found Kanté to his left. Kanté was fouled by Blind, but Lee Probert played advantage and Gayà took over. Gayà passed to Hazard, who got into the box before sending a low pass to the right. Costa latched onto the ball and fired it past De Gea to double Chelsea's lead for his 20th goal of the season. As the visitors tried to regroup, Chelsea won a throw in. Gayà threw the ball to Hazard, who headed it back. Gayà lofted a pass to Matic, who laid it back to Zouma. Zouma looked ahead to Pedro, who cut inside before passing to Kanté. Kanté timed his run to perfection, beating the offside trap before firing a shot under De Gea. Commenting for Sky Sports, Martin Tyler described Chelsea as “rampant” and added “United's fans must be wishing they'd stayed at home!” On the touchline, Spencer jumped for joy, while Mourinho looked as though he'd swallowed a lemon. On Twitter, 442oons released a short video of Mourinho in a crashed bus while the other managers in the Premier League (along with Louis Van Gaal and Eva Carneiro) sang “Ha ha Mourinho” at him. Mourinho opted to make all his substitutions at half time, bringing Rooney, Mkhitaryan and Rashford on to replace Herrera, Mata and Ibrahimovic. Spencer elected to replace a tiring Matic with Fàbregas. Rooney nearly made an instant impact, as Camacho was booked for a foul on Pogba. From the free kick, Rashford set up Rooney, who sent a shot wide. A minute later, a long ball by Zouma was cleared by Marcos Rojo, but only as far as Pedro. Pedro raced into the area before unleashing w left footed shot which Bailly threw himself in front of. Azpilicueta was then shown a yellow card for a trip on Rashford. United were looking to get back into the match and in the 51st minute, Pogba fired a free kick over the bar, before Rashford connected with Martial's pass and hit a left footed shot which was saved by Courtois. In the 54th minute, a clearance by Azpilicueta found Marcos Rojo. Rojo played a forward pass to Rooney, who passed to Mkhitaryan. Mkhitaryan sent in a cross, and Rashford rose above Azpilicueta to head the ball past Courtois and pull a goal back for the visitors. Some supporters might have remembered the match in February 2012, where alleged Man Utd fan Howard Webb gave United two penalties after Chelsea went 3-0 ahead, but Chelsea attacked straight from the kick off and Hazard hit a shot straight at De Gea. United then forced a series of corners, before Chelsea were awarded a free kick for a push on Costa by Blind. David Luiz came close, the shot skimming the top of the bar. A minute later, Valencia crossed the ball into the area. David Luiz headed clear, but Pogba got to the loose ball and tried his luck. It was a powerful shot, but Courtois was able to turn it behind. In the 68th minute, a cross by Rashford was headed clear by Zouma. Martial got to the ball before Camacho, but Gayà headed clear. Bailly intercepted the clearance, and passed to Rooney. Rooney had a shot, which was easily gathered by Courtois. A minute later, Kanté made a great interception deep in the United half and dribbled to the D before trying an audacious attempt which was saved by De Gea. With twenty minutes left, Gayà conceded a free kick. Rooney's ball was met by the head of Martial, whose effort went harmlessly wide. Chelsea then brought Cahill on to replace David Luiz. With eleven minutes to go, a long ball from Rooney to Rashford was intercepted by Cahill. Cahill found Kanté, who played the ball to Fàbregas. Fàbregas sent a great ball long to Pedro, who got free in the area before tucking the ball home. With United's fading hopes of getting a result snuffed out, Chelsea fans couldn't resist gloating, and “**** off Mourinho” and “You're not special anymore” were directed at the former Chelsea manager, while the opposing supporters got “You only live round the corner”, “You've had your day out, now **** off home” and “Is this a fire drill?” Willian came on for Hazard as Chelsea looked to rub salt into Mourinho's wounds. In the 82nd minute, Gayà headed wide from a Willian free kick, while a minute later a header by Willian was hacked clear. In the 90th minute, Diego Costa saw a shot saved by De Gea and cleared by Valencia. Pedro headed the ball back into the area, where Costa was clearly held by Rojo. Lee Probert, however, waved play on, leaving Chelsea aggrieved. Azpilicueta was then harshly penalised for a foul on Rashford, and Camacho, seemingly forgetting he was on a yellow card, chose to argue with Probert, who gave him his marching orders. At the death, Rashford found Martial with a pinpoint pass, but the Frenchman's hopeful shot was saved by Courtois, denying him a consolation. In the end, Pedro's brilliance and an abject performance by the visitors inspired Chelsea to a vital win. 2nd January 2017, 17:30: Barclays Premier League - at Stamford Bridge, London Chelsea 4-1 Man Utd (Darmian og 13, Costa 45, Kanté 45+1, Pedro 79, Camacho s/o 90; Rashford 54) Man of the Match: Pedro Asked about Camacho's red card in the tunnel, Spencer responded, “He was just a bit silly. As soon as he's served his suspension, he'll be back in the squad.” In the press conference after the match, Spencer said, “I think Mourinho was rattled by someone actually expressing a frank opinion about him and it showed in his side's performance.” Indeed, Gary Neville on Sky Sports had not held back, branding the United's performance “a disgrace” and comparing it to the 6-1 defeat by Manchester City in October 2011. Sid Collingwood, in his match report in The Sun, went for the low-hanging fruit with the headline “NO WAY JOSÉ”. In the three o'clock games, Liverpool beat Burnley 3-1 at Anfield, while Stoke won 2-1 at The Riverside. Swansea and Leicester played out a 1-1 draw in South Wales, while Ben Watson's late goal saw Watford beat Everton 1-0 at Vicarage Road. Bournemouth won 2-0 at The Hawthorns, while Jonathan Calleri and Abel Hernandez both scored a brace as West Ham drew 2-2 with Hull City. There were also three games kicking off at eight o'clock; Southampton held Tottenham to a goalless draw, while Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 4-0 at The Emirates to leave Sam Allardyce in a precarious position. Sunderland held Manchester City to a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light. League Table: Pos Inf Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag GD Pts 1st Man Utd 20 14 2 4 49 14 35 44 2nd Arsenal 20 13 3 4 40 12 28 42 3rd Chelsea 20 12 5 3 43 21 22 41 4th Man City 20 11 5 4 36 19 17 38 5th Liverpool 20 11 4 5 48 32 16 37 6th Watford 20 10 5 5 30 25 5 35 7th Bournemouth 20 10 4 6 27 27 0 34 8th Tottenham 20 7 12 1 32 19 13 33 9th Burnley 20 8 4 8 20 24 -4 28 10th Leicester 20 7 7 6 21 35 -14 28 11th Southampton 20 7 6 7 27 25 2 27 12th West Ham 20 6 7 7 28 27 1 25 13th Sunderland 20 7 4 9 23 29 -6 25 14th Everton 20 6 5 9 22 27 -5 23 15th West Brom 20 5 5 10 20 31 -11 20 16th Middlesbrough 20 5 3 12 16 32 -16 18 17th Swansea 20 4 5 11 19 35 -16 17 18th Stoke 20 3 6 11 18 32 -14 15 19th Hull 20 2 8 10 16 39 -23 14 20th Crystal Palace 20 1 2 17 6 36 -30 5
  13. Chelsea faced Everton just before the New Year. The fixture last season had seen Chelsea come back from 2-0 down before John Terry scored a dubious late equaliser in a 3-3 draw in the 8th minute of stoppage time. Chelsea came into this match on a ten match unbeaten run, while Everton were struggling for form. However, Spencer was without Jose Gaya, who had sustained a head injury at Crystal Palace. Asked about Koeman’s job security in the press conference before the match, Spencer said “It’s not something I need to concern myself with, nor is it my job to show solidarity with other managers. This is a very ruthless industry and managers get sacked on a regular basis.” Chelsea Courtois Azpilicueta David Luiz Cahill Marcos Alonso Matic Fàbregas Kanté Willian Diego Costa Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Terry, Aina, Zouma, Camacho, Pedro, Batshuayi Everton Stekelenburg Williams Funes Mori Jagielka Baines Gueye Coleman Schneiderlin McCarthy Barkley Lukaku Substitutes: Robles, Garbutt, Bolasie, Koné, Barry, Holgate, Mirallas Interviewed in the tunnel before the match, Spencer said of Eden Hazard, who was making his 150th league appearance, “He's a wonderful player and a fine example of the sort of person we want at this club.” The game started slowly and the first chance came in the twelfth minute. A corner from Fàbregas was headed away by Funes Mori but only as far as Costa. Costa turned and shot, but couldn't direct the ball goalwards. Martin Atkinson was looking to assert his authority early on, and Azpilicueta and Baines were both shown yellow cards for fouls Schneiderlin and Willian respectively. In the seventeenth minute, Schneiderlin played in Lukaku, with the former Chelsea player seeing his shot tipped wide by Courtois. In the 22nd minute, Fàbregas, forced wide, played in Willian, who crossed the ball low and hard to Hazard, whose shot was hit straight at Stekelenburg. From the corner, Funes Mori headed the ball clear, but Marcos Alonso headed it back in. Lukaku cleared, but Alonso intercepted and passed to Kanté, who wasted the opportunity by shooting over the bar. Two minutes later, Fàbregas found Costa, who tried to turn and shoot, but his shot was saved by Stekelenburg. Everton were giving as good as they gave, however, and in the 27th minute, Coleman got past Alonso and fired off a shot from a narrow angle, which struck the leg of Courtois and then the post before David Luiz cleared. Four minutes later, Chelsea won a corner, from which Cahill headed wide. In the 40th minute, Azpilicueta played in Willian, who got to the byline and looked to cross. The cross, however, had to be tipped away by Stekelenburg. There was also a cagey start to the second half as the first chance came seven minutes in. Lukaku set up Barkley, who hit a left footed shot over the bar. Six minutes later, Leighton Baines hit a free kick over the bar. There was a distinct nervousness around Stamford Bridge but in the 62nd minute, an aerial pass from Alonso was headed into the area by Fàbregas. Costa raced onto it, but didn't strike his volley cleanly. Two minutes later, Matic intercepted the ball and passed to Willian out wide. Willian lofted the ball to Fàbregas, who passed to Matic. Matic moved the ball onto Kanté, who sought out Costa. Costa hit a hopeful shot from 25 yards, which hit the inside of the post and settled in the net to give Chelsea the lead. A tiring Matic was then replaced by Camacho, before Everton replaced Jagielka with Holgate. Barkley would then come off, making way for Mirallas. As Chelsea looked to double their lead, Fàbregas found a wide-open Willian, but the Brazilian shot straight at Stekelenburg. Camacho then received a yellow card for a trip on Lukaku. From the free kick, Baines found Funes Mori, whose header was saved by Courtois. Spencer, thinking of Manchester United on the horizon, then withdrew Costa, replacing him with Batshuayi. Willian then had another chance, but his free kick deflected out off the wall. As the clock ticked on, Baines was replaced by Garbutt. With eight minutes left, Chelsea won another free kick, with Willian coming agonisingly close as the ball skimmed the top of the bar. The Brazilian would have another free kick two minutes later, which he didn't strike cleanly. A tiring Fàbregas was replaced by Zouma as Chelsea looked to shut up shop, but with two minutes remaining David Luiz conceded a free kick. Mirallas’ ball was intercepted by Cahill, but Garbutt got to it and took a shot which took a deflection to wrong-foot Courtois and bring Everton level with his first goal for the Toffees. In the 90th minute, a throw in by Azpilicueta found Camacho, who passed to David Luiz. Luiz hit a long range effort which skimmed the top of the bar. With time almost up, Everton won a free kick. Garbutt sent the ball into the box, but Courtois came out to claim the ball ahead of Lukaku. 31st December 2016, 15:00 - at Stamford Bridge, London Chelsea 1-1 Everton (Diego Costa 64, Garbutt 88) Man of the Match: Diego Costa “It's a disappointing result, and the late equaliser will hurt,” Spencer told Alan Bowyer of the Liverpool Echo after the match, “But the players will take the lesson and learn from it.” He also praised Diego Costa's goal, calling it “a magnificent strike from a magnificent player”. In the other games, Liverpool beat Man City 2-1 with goals from Wijnaldum and Firmino. A goal from Carrick and a brace from Anthony Martial saw Man Utd win 3-0 at the Riverside, while Sunderland beat Hull by the same scoreline. Burnley picked up a 1-0 win at Swansea, while Tottenham were held to another draw, 1-1 at Leicester. Watford beat Crystal Palace 3-1, putting even more pressure on Sam Allardyce (who had stormed out of the press conference before the match) while West Ham beat Bournemouth 1-0. Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw at St Mary's. Chelsea had enjoyed a good month and as a result, Spencer edged out Wenger and Mourinho to win the Manager of the Month award. Diego Costa won Player of the Month.
  14. Chelsea's Boxing Day fixture was against bottom club Crystal Palace. The Eagles sat 11 points adrift of safety, having picked up 5 points all season. Spencer picked the same side which had beaten Arsenal, while Palace were missing several players through injury. In addition, Yohan Cabaye was serving a five match suspension. Crystal Palace Hennessey Ward Dann Tomkins Sakho Souaré Puncheon Flamini McArthur Zaha Benteke Substitutes: Speroni, Delaney, Townsend, Wickham, Sako, van Aanholt, Appiah Chelsea Courtois Azpilicueta David Luiz Cahill Gayà Matic Fàbregas Kanté Willian Diego Costa Hazard Substitutes: Begovic, Terry, Marcos Alonso, Zouma, Camacho, Pedro, Batshuayi Chelsea looked to attack from the get-go and in the second minute, Kanté won a free kick. Willian stepped up, but couldn't direct it goalwards. The Brazilian had a similar chance four minutes later, but his shot was fisted away by Hennessey. Palace had a free kick in the tenth minute, but Puncheon sent it over the bar. A minute later, Willian sent a free kick wide. Willian was tormenting the home side with his free kicks, and in the nineteenth minute another one was saved by Hennessey. It seemed as if a goal was inevitable, and in the 24th minute, the deadlock was broken. Scott Dann was penalised for holding onto Hazard's shirt. Willian took the resulting free kick, which deflected off the wall and into the net, completely wrong-footing Hennessey. José Gayà was then booked for a trip on Puncheon in the 26th minute. The free kick, however, came to nothing, and Matic launched a counter-attack which saw Kanté get past Flamini with ease and play a one-two with Costa before his shot was blocked by Dann. With half an hour gone, Chelsea came forward again. Hazard found Fàbregas, whose shot whistled just over the crossbar. From the goal kick, Puncheon climbed above Gayà, who went down holding his head. Following a brief discussion with his assistant and physio, Spencer took Gayà off and replaced him with Marcos Alonso. Puncheon then sent a free kick clean over the bar, before Matic was booked for upending Benteke. In the 40th minute, Willian had a free kick, which Puncheon threw himself in front of. Chelsea had been on top in the first half but Courtois had to be alert to save a Puncheon free kick just before half time. The second half was barely underway when McArthur fouled Kanté, earning him a yellow card for an accumulation of fouls. Willian lofted the ball over the wall, and Diego Costa got in behind the Palace defence before jumping up to loft a header over Hennessey and into the net for his 50th Chelsea goal. Former Arsenal midfielder Flamini was then booked for a foul on Kanté. Willian passed to David Luiz, who sent a shot wide. In the 55th minute, a header by Costa was headed clear by Dann. Costa hit an effort on the volley from way out, but Hennessey saved the shot. In the 64th minute, Fàbregas played in Costa, whose shot fizzed past the post. Marcos Alonso was then booked, for a foul on Puncheon. In the 67th minute, a cross by Alonso was deflected into the path of Willian. Willian looked to shoot, but Dann got in the way. In the 69th minute, Delaney and Wickham replaced Tomkins and Benteke. Diego Costa then ran onto a loose ball before seeing a shot tipped wide by Hennessey. The target man was then booked, for repeated fouls. With fifteen minutes left, Palace replaced Souaré with former Chelsea full back van Aanholt, before Camacho came on to replace Matic. Palace then had perhaps their best chance of the match, as Wickham connected with van Aanholt's cross before letting fly with a shot which Courtois did well to tip behind. Puncheon then saw a free kick tipped over the bar. With two minutes left, Willian blazed a free kick over the bar, before Hennessey once again tipped a Diego Costa shot behind. 26th December 2016, 15:00: Barclays Premier League - at Selhurst Park, London Crystal Palace 0-2 Chelsea (Willian 24, Diego Costa 48) Man of the Match: Willian When asked by Steven Moore about what he thought of the opposition's style of play, Spencer responded, “There's assertive and then there's Crystal Palace; Gayà won't be the first nor last to suffer. If it's technically within the rules, then I don't think there's much anybody can do, but perhaps a change of heart is needed; I know that I'd have issued Hunt and Sonko with lengthy bans.” Sam Allardyce, when asked about the criticism of his side's playing style, stated “I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.” Allardyce would also be the subject of a subsequent 442oons sketch, in which Messi, Suarez and Neymar (complete with strings instruments) sang “Sacked in the morning” at him (which had been a regular refrain from opposition fans at recent Crystal Palace games) before Suarez followed it up with “You're just a **** Neil Warnock” before realising that they weren't doing the second verse. In the other games, Arsenal defeated Watford 2-1 with goals from Sanchez and Walcott before Okaka pulled a goal back for the hornets. A Callum Wilson brace in the second half helped Bournemouth dispatch Sunderland 4-1, while Everton hammered Middlesbrough 4-0 as Boro’s Adam Clayton was sent off for a shocking two-footed lunge on Lukaku. The game of the day, however, was at the KC Stadium, where Hull City and Liverpool played out a 4-4 draw in which Hull took the lead four times. Manchester City comfortably beat Swansea 2-0, while Manchester United put West Brom to the sword with four second half goals at Old Trafford. Leicester came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Southampton, while Stoke drew 0-0 with West Ham. In the evening kick off, Tottenham slipped to their third consecutive draw, being held 0-0 at Burnley.