August -15-31- News
Ranieri insisted he does not live in fear of the sack at
Claudio Ranieri insists that only a "stupid man"
would expect his Chelsea side to win the Premiership title
Claudio Ranieri has warned Chelsea's Premiership rivals
that new signing Adrian Mutu is a "dangerous"
Chelsea plunge into premier league combat
today when they face one of their likely title rivals, Liverpool,
at Anfield in their opening game of the season.
For Vinnie read Veron, for Wisey read Jimmy. The class of
92 has been matched this afternoon as a glorious 2-1
opening Premiership win brought Chelseas version of
the holy grail a win at Anfield.
Just to make it even sweeter bearing in mind the manner
of our defeats here in the last two seasons, the winning
goal came with everyone looking at their watches and planning
their routes home.
Who would you rather have latching on to a pass on the edge
of area with the game up for grabs than Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink?
That is exactly who was in the right place at the right
time when Lampard played the ball forward with three minutes
Winning his personally battle with Carragher, he stepped
to the right and then beat Dudek without even switching
on the full power.
Anfield fell deathly silent bar the celebrating Chelsea
fans, just as it had done in the 24th minute when we first
took the lead. This time the silence was even more poignant
as up until that point, the Kop had been exercising its
collective lung by raining boos down on Juan Sebastian Veron,
his recent past not about to be forgotten.
Nor will his first Chelsea goal be forgotten in a hurry
either. The ball was played out from the back and Lampard
spun it wide for Gronkjaer to chase.
Making up the ground comfortably, the flying Dane drove
a great first-time low cross into the Kop End penalty area
where Veron's shot was hit as sweet as a Black Forest gateau.
Ironically, Gronkjaers incision was made just seconds
after he and Duff had swapped wings. The left-footed Duff
had started on the right for the first time in a Chelsea
shirt but with the understandings on both wings not totally
in tune, the switch was warranted and successful.
The creative Verons lovely first time ball almost
led to a 2-0 half-time lead when he sent Eidur Gudjohnsen
clear. There was a suspicion of offside but not in the mind
of the linesman who kept his flag down. Unfortunately, Gudjohnsen
also kept his attempted lift over Dudek down a couple of
inches too much and a great chance went wide.This win was
no cruise and nor was it ever likely to be. The Chelsea
goal came under threat as early as the second minute when
Cudicini stretched well to keep out Murphy and then in the
period leading up to our opener, Kewell outstripped the
otherwise excellent Terry for pace but flashed his shot
across the face of the goal.
When the Aussie debutant found Owen in space, Cudicini saved
well again. Kewell also volleyed a clearance from a corner
just wide on the stroke of half-time.
The second-half began in a more cagey fashion but then became
a story of penalties and penalty appeals.
Its a sign of changing times when Liverpool have three
appeals turned down in front of the Kop, the strongest of
which being Bridges hand making contact to a bouncing
ball as he turned to clear. At the fourth attempt however,
Liverpool were successful.
Diouf, a second-half sub had begun to make in-roads down
our right, and William Gallas replaced Johnson with just
under a quarter of the game to go to shore up that side.
However with an echo of Chelseas opening goal, Diouf
had moved to the other side when Bridge brought him down
and the spot-kick was awarded.
Owen lamely scooped his shot kick and the win seemed assured
but then to the sheer incredulity of the Chelsea team, the
kick was ordered to be retaken for encroachment.
Owen was unlikely to fail twice and this time the ball crashed
into the roof of the net.
There was now quarter-of-an-hour to hang on for the pessimists
or win it for the optimists.
Heskey swung over a dangerous cross and Gronkjaer stooped
to head behind as the tension mounted.
But then with the seconds disappearing fast, Chelsea once
more worked the ball up field and the crucial ball was played
in the direction of Hasselbaink, on as a half-time replacement
for Gudjohnsen. Surely the heroic effort wouldnt
be blown now. Cudicini had to smartly gather a Hyypia header
in the dying seconds to prevent a repeat of the last two
seasons heartbreak but we were not to be denied.
Forget big signings as a statement of
intent, what greater way to announce a new Chelsea than
to pull off only our third win at Liverpool since the
war and to inflict their first home opening day defeat
New Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich looked
like a young boy on Christmas morning as his investment
in Chelsea began to pay dividend at Anfield.
John Terry hailed Chelsea's fighting spirit as the Blues
marked the first Premiership match of the Roman Abramovich
era with a win at Anfield.
Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz insists want-away midfielder
and Chelsea target Claude Makelele remains an "important"
part of his squad.
Reading manager Alan Pardew admits he has
lost his battle to sign Chelsea's teenage centre-back Robert
Huth on loan.
Brighton are closing in on signing on-loan Chelsea striker
Leon Knight on a permanent basis.
Mick McGiven's Chelsea reserve side secured a 3-2 victory
over their Arsenal counterparts in Monday evening's FA Premier
Reserve League action.
Chelsea's Carlton Cole has been loaned to
London rivals Charlton Athletic for the rest of the season
because there is no room for the promising striker at the
big-spending premier league club.
Free-spending Premiership side Chelsea are refusing to give
up the chase for Inter Milan's Argentine international Hernan
Crespo, according to the Corriere dello Sport on Wednesday.
Roman Abramovich will make his Stamford Bridge debut in
the directors' box on Saturday, when he will receive a hero's
welcome from 42,000 fans.
Inter Milan have confirmed they are negotiating
with Chelsea, who have renewed their interest in Argentina
striker Hernan Crespo.
Chelsea striker Leon Knight has hit out at the Premiership
big spenders as he prepares to complete a transfer to Brighton.
Chelsea have reached a deal with Inter Milan
for Argentina striker Hernan Crespo.
Striker Carlton Cole has insisted he still has a future
at Chelsea - despite being farmed out to Charlton on loan.
As many red cards as goals and only the
narrowest of wins was probably not the majority prediction
for Chelseas first home game of our new cash-rich
era. But in a game not short of talking points, it will
be the manner of Adrian Mutus winner that those present
will be recalling as they leave Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
It was a day of pain as well as pleasure for our newest
recruit as he made his home debut. A nasty gash on the wrist
that required stitching was the low point of his afternoon
but his awesome drive to restore the lead on the stroke
of half-time was most definitely a high.
The Chelsea players are probably still asking quite how
they found themselves in the position of needing to recover
from an equaliser in the first place, so perfectly had the
We all know the script its one we have seen
played out many times before. The visitors come to keep
it tight, the home side scores in the blink of an eye and
all plans go out the window as the stars turn it on and
romp to victory in front of jubilant fans.
When Leicester new boy Lilian Nalis stooped to head Verons
corner embarrassingly into his own net after only 100 seconds
of this encounter, the scene indeed seemed set.
Duff had again started on the right, this time of a midfield
four, while Veron and Lampard floated around in front of
Geremi as the anticipation grew for further goals.
The floodgate became stuck however and although after the
goal Chelsea moved the ball in neat patterns with flashes
of flair from the likes of Duff and Veron, Ian Walker in
the Leicester goal was left only worrying about long range
efforts for most of the remaining game.
Mutu hit one such effort crisply with the Leicester keeper
saving low down and he curled another not too far wide,
interspersed by a Lampard drive that matched his recent
England effort for power but not direction as Walker stood
his ground and caught.
Leicester simply didnt look like scoring with Carlo
only called upon to catch a couple of crosses. Set pieces
always have the potential to upset the status quo however
and that is exactly what happened in the 39th minute.
Izzet floated a deep free-kick to the far post and with
the Chelsea keeper remaining on his line, Scowcroft rose
above John Terry to head the fourth goal against us of his
It was a shock and the sound of our critics sharpening their
pencils was almost audible. Time to shut them up in style
then and relief was pleasingly prompt.
Chelsea were awarded a free-kick ten yards outside the area
at The Shed End and Mutu lined-up his sights. His first
right-foot shot was well struck but it hit the ball. The
rebound fell to his left and he caught it perfectly
slamming an outswinger past Walkers despairing drive
into the bottom corner. Talk about two-footed! And talk
about shutting up the Leicester fans and their waste
of money chants!
We had now seen the Romanians power and we had also
seen his lightness of foot throughout the afternoon. He
backheeled beautifully to Lampard in the opening minute
of the second-half and Walker was forced to save low down
Then another back-heel, from Veron this time, allowed Mutu
to find Hasselbaink and with Walker comically missing his
attempted interception, Jimmy smacked the face of the near-post
from a narrow angle.
The thrilling football was flowing for a short time now
as Duff and Hasselbaink exchanged passes at pace and Duff
In the 67th minute that flow was halted in a moment of high
drama. In a standard midfield passage of play, Geremi slid
in and won the ball but followed through two-footed on Scimeca
and referee Styles wasnt slow to produce a red card.
Gronkjaer had been set to come on even before that shock
development and the substitution continued to go ahead as
he instantly replaced Mutu with Jimmy now left to operate
alone up front.
Chelsea began to look vulnerable. Substitute Gillespie took
on and beat Wayne Bridge down our left and Scowcroft headed
the cross over. The introduction of frequent thorn-in-the-side
Brian Deane increased the tension but credit must go to
the Stamford Bridge crowd who continued to cajole the team
on rather than fret and criticise.
Then as the game entered its final ten minutes, Leicester
indiscipline came into play. Gronkjaer followed the text
book and ran the ball 50 yards into the corner area and
after Rodgers had pushed him over, the defender swung a
kick in the general direction of both the ball and Jespers
stomach and was dismissed.
Danger at the other end didnt disappear totally with
Deane out powering Desailly and heading a high bouncing
ball over but a second Leicester departure brought victory
another step closer.
Joe Cole broke through the middle of the park and was brought
down from behind by Scimeca who saw yellow for a second
Joe Cole, on as a late sub for Duff, was the prominent player
in the closing minutes, shooting tamely wide from one well
worked opening but then playing the ball through his own
legs with wonderful deftness before cracking a shot against
The cushion of a two goal advantage failed to come but Leicesters
hard fought resistance had slowly come to an end.
At times this game was easy on the eye, at times it was
ugly. At times we were cruising, at times there was a stutter.
At times you could sit back and soak it in, at times you
were worried. But we won again
!It least Roman Abramovich is receiving a crash course in
what it is like to support Chelsea.
Four London-based Dutch players should seek
transfers if they want a place in the Netherlands squad
for Euro 2004, according to national coach Dick Advocaat.
Advocaat referred particularly to Chelsea trio Jimmy Floyd
Hasselbaink, Mario Melchiot and Boudewijn Zenden, who are
part of a talented, expensively-assembled squad in which
competition for places will be fierce. .
Chelsea have taken their spending on players
close to 80 million pounds by completing the transfer from
Girondins Bordeaux of Russia midfielder Alexei Smertin.
Big-spenders Chelsea are expected to complete the signing
of Argentina striker Hernan Crespo from Inter Milan on Tuesday,
the player's agent confirmed.
The two goal cushion Chelsea carried into
tonights second leg of this qualifier was always likely
to be enough padding to ensure a safe passage into the Champions
League proper. The true European test of how far this club
has come in the summer still awaits.
Instead this was a day for individuals an evening
for a few on the fringes or some young recent arrivals to
make claims or names for themselves.
Starting at right-back for instance was Glen Johnson who
had missed out last Saturday; Celestine Babayaro was making
his first start knowing now that Wayne Bridge is challenging
his regular place. Joe Cole received the debut hed
been craving while on the night Hernan Crespo was finally
confirmed as our newest blue, there was another chance for
Gudjohnsen and Hasselbaink to remind everyone of past glories.
Come the final whistle several reputations had been enhanced.
There are few better ways to get yourself noticed than to
find the net, even if you are a defender, and goals from
Glen Johnson and Robert Huth didnt just kill this
tie stone dead, they were also big career firsts.
Johnsons opener came after half-an-hour. Jesper Gronkjaer
had been checked in full flight by full-back Stas, earning
the player a booking. In the absence of more regular free-kick
takers, the honours went to Frank Lampard and he didnt
His arrowed dipping delivery caused enough difficulties
to the lanky Sninsky that he could only head as far as the
unmarked Glen Johnson ten yards out. There was still quite
some work to do to take advantage but the young full-back
was up to the challenge, directing his downward header inside
Robert Huths big moment in the floodlights came midway
through the second-half. Emmanuel Petit, on as half-time
sub for Lampard, curled a free-kick which was heading inside
the near post until the keeper punched away for a corner.
Petit again took the dead ball and Huth, beyond the far-post
matched Johnson for aerial prowess by finding the net too
for his teams second.
For both 19 year-olds it was the first senior goal of their
careers, surely making this game something of a collectors
Those milestones apart, the first hour of this game was
pretty turgid stuff. Joe Cole had looked a possible source
of chances in the first quarter, his best period of the
game, and he was the recipient of some rather brutal tackling.
There were a couple of close shaves before Johnsons
opener. The first came from a Hasselbaink corner, whipped
in low, which Gudjohnsen attempted to turn in with an imitation
of the Zola wonder goal versus Norwich. Against these yellow
and green shirted opponents, the contact was too feint and
the ball flew across the goal face to safety.
Then Jesper Gronkjaer who had been mixing danger with sloppiness,
found plenty of time to measure a cross and this time produced
a peach, right on to the head of Hasselbaink at the far
post, but he nodded inches over when it looked easier to
score than to miss.
A couple of speculative efforts were all Zilina offered
by way of resistance, they never appeared to carry any genuine
belief that an upset was possible. Miroslav Barcik who played
wide right in the first leg but started up front tonight
was again the one player to impress.
Slovakian support in the stadium was roughly 50 strong and
they were the only members of the 23, 408 crowd not to exercise
their lungs fully when Hernan Crespos half-time unveiling
Those same Chelsea lungs were in action once more when with
12 minutes to go and the score already 2-0, an older hand
decided to get in on the goalscoring action.
Geremi started the move and continued it after exchanging
passes with Gudjohnsen. His perfectly flighted ball over
the defence was chested down by Hasselbaink who then hit
an angled drive across the keeper for his second of the
Gudjohnsen himself had almost added his name to the score
sheet earlier in the second half when first he flicked in
Geremi but after the Cameroonian had lost possession, he
picked the ball up again, burst between two players and
unleashed a blistering shot which curled onto the post.
The most spectacular moment of the game and its biggest
talking point as well came after the scoring had been completed.
Watchers of Chelsea reserves over the last two seasons will
be fully aware of Robert Huths free-kick abilities.
Basically if you give one away anywhere in your half with
him on the pitch, you are in danger!
When Zilina committed a foul close on 40 yards out, it was
his big chance to perform his party piece in front of a
wider audience. Geremi touched the ball sideways and Huth
hit it straight and true. It crashed into the crossbar and
then down and out.
On replays, it looked for all the world to have gone in
but not according to a poorly placed linesman so Robert
will have to wait for another day to break his duck in this
department. It will only be a matter of time.
Chelsea as a whole only need wait until Thursday to find
out our Champions League destiny after this safe, if pedestrian
progress into the group stage draw.
Chelsea have sent
their new Russian midfielder Alexei Smertin to Portsmouth
on a season's loan just two days after signing him
from Girondins Bordeaux, Fratton Park officials
Tottenham manager Glen Hoddle has admitted Chelsea
have blocked his bid to sign midfielder Emmanuel
Chelsea were drawn
against Italian giants Lazio in Group G of the Champions
League.Czech outfit Sparta Prague and Turkish side
Besiktas completed the line-up of their group.
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Neil Sullivan is set
to become the latest player to sign for big-spending
Chelsea, Spurs' official website reports.
Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri intends to send striker
Mikael Forssell to Birmingham on an extended loan.