There are no easy games in the Premier League, they say. Well, there are. At least, some are much easier than others. Or they should be. A good second half performance against Schalke has done little to dampen my frustration after a gutless defeat against Newcastle and grabbing a point at home against West Brom.
My main gripe would be the lack of ~~fight~~ bite in the team these days. We've been spoilt with strong leaders over the years - just take a look at the Chelsea alumni that have successfully moved into management. Others will follow them. Who is the next Wise, Poyet, Ballack, Drogba, Terry - capable of grabbing games (and, occasionally, opponents) by the scruff of the neck?
Also rather worryingly, some important players seem to be in decline and, although I appreciate it's still early in the season, Mourinho is being forced to make some tough calls. This new Chelsea are a very different beast to the squad Mourinho was initially so successful with.
Lewis Baker was rewarded with a spot on the bench against Swindon. A nice gesture for one of the academy's stand out players, who has consistently performed well over the last couple of seasons. A composed midfield presence, equally comfortable with both feet, hopes were high that Baker might make his debut last night. It was not to be.
With the game tied after ten minutes, van Ginkel hobbled off after a horrific fall. His replacement, Ramires, only lasted until half-time, complaining of muscular pains. With a healthy two goal lead, I was a little disappointed to see his replacement was Terry… not Baker.
With 15 minutes left, Ba was the final substitute to enter the fray. It seems I wasn't the only frustrated one. Alex Davey, a promising young centre half, and one of Baker's academy team-mates, tweeted (and then hastily deleted):
"2 0 up, 15 minutes to go surely your gunna bring @lew_baker on to show that there is a bit og hope to bring youngsters through"
Sure, the result is most important. After all, it's a risky game blooding youngsters into the first team. That's what they tell us. However, last night Josh Murphy, who Baker lined up against in last year's FA Youth Cup final, scored as Norwich fought back from 2-0 down at Watford to win 3-2 after extra time.
Every now and then we need to hand opportunities to academy players, not just £50 million super-subs, to adapt, develop and surprise.
There's a danger that I'm going to turn into an Eto'o apologist... but it makes me cringe when I hear fans demanding Roman opens his chequebook (again) to solve our problems. Eto'o needs a goal. Well, all of our strikers do. But they won't get a chance to play their way into some form. Could our squad be too strong? Too many new players? Too many options?
It's tough, really tough, to pick the strongest XI. Constantly rotating a plethora of playmakers and integrating new players. One thing that was clearly evident against Basel was the lack of cohesion in pockets of the pitch. Not fully confident, not clicking enough. Still, if we'd have taken our chances then Basel would have been put to bed.
Oscar, our brilliant young Brazilan, was one of the few to lead by example last night. Tenacious, positive and he left his mark on the game. Hazard had plenty of possession but was ultimately wasteful, passing up one of the best opportunities of the evening. Expectations are so high with Hazard.
It feels a bit like pre-season again, like Mourinho's still testing out his players and deciding who he can rely on, who will be in his strongest XI. Oscar, you're well on your way to becoming untouchable. Others were far less convincing. We'll get there, eventually.
Lampard picked up his 99th cap against Moldova at Wembley - and will become the eighth member of the elite group of English centurians if he plays, as expected, in Kiev against Ukraine. One cap away from 100 and one goal away from 30 (and equalling Alan Shearer's tally). We salute you, Frank.
It appears likely that Chelsea's latest star signing may have made his last international appearance, though. L'Equipe have reported that Eto'o has retired from international football after hobbling off after an hour as Cameroon beat Libya 1-0.
Mata, rested by Spain, appeared on Chelsea TV to
rubbish ridiculous, lazy, lingering rumours reassure everyone that he's only focussing on regaining fitness after a much-needed extended break over the summer:
"My only aim is to play here, grow as a player and do as good a season as the last two which were amazing for me."
"These two seasons have flown by... but to me this is good because when you are enjoying things and you are happy, time goes quicker."
"I had four weeks off [ahead of pre-season training] and to be honest that's too much time for me because in the last five or six years I didn't have this sort of rest. But I've had plenty of rest and now I'm feeling really good. The best thing for me is to play because I love to play."
Another player that should never leave. Ever. Is David Luiz. Our favourite curly-haired geezer will continue to enjoy the life at Stamford Bridge, despite Barca's best efforts to lure him away. Dani Alves and Neymar never stood a chance...
"There was a formal offer from Barcelona but I decided to stay at Chelsea."
"It was not Chelsea's decision, it was mine."
"They [Dani Alves and Neymar] were sent to try to convince me to sign, but I was clear with them that I was staying."
Well, full of hype and hysteria, we've ended up with an unexpected deadline day twist. Lukaku has confirmed on Twitter that he'll be spending the season on loan at Everton. I'm disappointed as I thought this could be his season, especially as we'd failed to sign up a superstar striker.
There are only two credible explanations I can muster. Firstly, José wanted a striker off the books and the only tempting offers that we recieved were for Lukaku. Or secondly, maybe Lukaku was pushing for a move to ensure first team football during a World Cup year. Maybe a little bit of both?
Before the rumour was in full flow, I'd dismissed some Liverpool fans tweeting it was going to be Lukaku's punishment for missing the penalty in Prague. We wouldn't, would we? Oh, we have. It all seemed a bit rushed, a bit wrong. I won't often say this, but I agree with Danny Murphy:
"I was not a big fan of deadline day as a player. It was all so rushed, it was so difficult to settle after you've changed clubs so quickly... I did not expect my move from Liverpool to Charlton. I would like to see it moved forward to the first day of the season."
Although I'm sure deadline day would still be a farce, transfers should all be wrapped up before the first game of the season. Best of luck, Lukaku. You'll get a chance one day...
It might take a little while for the boys to recover from a Friday night in Prague. Despite desperate disappointment, it was a good night and a determined, dogged, but ultimately draining performance. Torres and Cole were on top form but Oscar was the star of the show, full of tireless running, fighting spirit and dazzling skill.
Seconds away from another smash 'n' grab, a wounded Mourinho played the conspiracy card in his post-match interview. José, it's like you'd never left! Maybe just a ploy to deflect the headlines away from the final, fatal kick of the night. Lukaku will be back.
We looked organised and dangerous against the reigning European Champions. We learnt a lot about our young side last night. It's going to be a good season.
It's frustrating that so many have felt the need to propagate fake quotes attributed to Eto'o. Sign of the times, I guess. More importantly, Chelsea have landed a proven goalscorer, winner of the African Footballer of the Year award four times. Welcome to Chelsea, Samuel.
Eto'o, who has not uttered a bad word against the club, might not be the last addition to Chelsea's bloated squad. Eto'o, of course joins other new recruits Schurrle, van Ginkel and Willian. It's expected that Christian Atsu will sign from Porto, before being immediately loaned out to
Chelsea's B team Vitesse.
"We are always looking to strengthen the team and there could be one, maybe two, but we are looking at a couple maybe going out on loan to continue their development as we have a fairly big squad."
With Mourinho's squad continuing to swell, I presume a couple of departures should be expected. Torres, Ba and Moses seem the most likely candidates. Not Luiz. Certainly not Mata. Anyway, let's hope for a good performance against Bayern this evening.
Phew. Just over five more days of transfer torment to endure. I can't help but think one area of our squad is a little bit light. Yes,
attacking midfielders, I mean, strikers. I'm past feeling sorry for Torres, who stumbles his way through games without threatening.
I'm pretty sure 32-year-old Eto'o would be an improvement, although I'm pretty sure he won't be the threat he was at Barca and Inter. Maybe a stop-gap until Rooney can buy out his contract for £18m in January. Hah, who am I kidding? He'll have the new contract he deserves by then.
I thought Hulk shared some similarities with Rooney. Maybe I'm just craving The Hasselbaink Effect. Is he still on our radar? Well, if Spurs are interested… If Bale ever leaves, maybe Benzema would become available. If nothing happens, though. It'd be good news for Lukaku, who deserves a good run in the side.
Rather awkwardly, the post match press conference was more entertaining than the 90 minutes prior to it. All round defensively sound, although it was Terry who stood out, with a man of the match performance that subdued van Persie. Neither side really 'clicked' going forward.
Anyway, back to the real action... Mourinho, the cheeky little scamp, has given Rooney 24 to 48 hours to make public a decision on his future. The clock is ticking, as i'm sure other moves are being prepared.
I wonder if Real's Benzema is on our shortlist, as they could want to recoup some of the much-speculated Bale fee - and possibily make a move for another stroppy striker, Suarez. We'll see. Tick, tock.
Well, erm, this is a little embarassing. No, not that Willian was snatched out of Spurs' grasp. It's an embarassing amount of forward-thinking midfielders at our disposal.
Hazard, Oscar, Mata, De Bruyne, Willian, Moses and Schurrle. So many magicians, each with their own box of tricks. How will José keep them all happy? Will we see De Bruyne or Oscar play in a deeper role?
Not the worst problem to have, though... Not like, say, an angry and confused star striker that wants out.