As always, there is a busy week ahead for the Blues, while we reflect on an encouraging weekend of action around Europe…
Here, the official Chelsea website picks out the highlights from the latest news surrounding some of our youngsters currently out on loan, as well as casting an eye over the fortunes of former Stamford Bridge favourites and Champions League opponents…
A substitute on Saturday, Juan Mata has once again posted his weekly blog as he looks back on a busy time representing Spain in Panama before our defeat to West Brom.
You can read his column here.
Looking ahead, Juventus warmed up for our crucial Champions League Group E clash with a 0-0 home draw against Lazio at the weekend, a result which leaves them four points ahead of Inter Milan at the top of Serie A.
Antonio Conte’s side dominated the game, both in terms of possession and chances, but Federico Marchetti, the Lazio goalkeeper, was in inspired form, producing a string of important saves to frustrate the hosts.
Juventus have looked far from formidable at home of late, with Sunday’s stalemate following a 3-1 defeat to Inter earlier this month, and Roberto Di Matteo will be hoping their stutter continues tomorrow night.
Shakhtar Donetsk, meanwhile, suffered their first defeat of the domestic season when they were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal Kyiv.
Donetsk, who currently top Group E, can secure their place in the knockout stages with a victory over FC Nordsjaelland tomorrow night in Copenhagen, and manager Mircea Lucescu will undoubtedly be looking for a reaction from his players following their shock setback.
The dismissal of Yaroslav Rakitskiy three minutes after the break with Shakhtar already trailing 1-0 made the task all the more difficult, and their misery was compounded when the home side doubled their advantage in the 90th minute.
The Danish side, who are yet to win in the Champions League, have no chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, but they go into the game against Shakhtar in good spirits following their 2-0 away win against AGF Aarhus on Friday night.
There was good news below the first team at Chelsea this weekend, with positive results for both the Under-18s and Under-21s away to Liverpool.
On Saturday morning, the 18s continued their unbeaten start to the campaign with a 2-1 win thanks to two Alex Kiwomya goals, while a little over 24 hours later the 21s found themselves 3-0 down, only for substitute Jeremie Boga to score two fine solo goals and Lewis Clark to net a penalty, earning a fantastic 3-3 draw at Langtree Park, the home of the St Helen’s rugby league team.
The Under-21s are next in action a week today with a home local derby against Fulham, the match to be played at Brentford. The Under-18s travel to Middlesbrough for a Saturday morning kick-off, having already secured their place in the elite competition after Christmas.
It has been a big week for Nathaniel Chalobah (main picture), on loan with Watford, who first made his England Under-21 debut against Northern Ireland on Wednesday, and then scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 win over Wolves at the weekend. Chalobah is keen to make his mark when he returns to Stamford Bridge, citing the development of Ryan Bertrand as his inspiration.
The 17-year-old said: ‘[Ryan] has gone out for several loan spells, got experience in the Championship, and now has broken into the team. He is even an England international now.’
There was also a goal for Kevin De Bruyne, who netted the winner for 10-man Werder Bremen against Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday, while Ulises Davila scored twice in Spain for Sabadell as they won 5-2 at Recreativo.
Over in Holland it has been a big week for Tomas Kalas, a Czech Republic debutant in midweek, and he helped Vitesse to a 4-1 win against Nijmegen. Influential in that display was Gael Kakuta, who created two goals, while Patrick van Aanholt also played the full 90 minutes and tweeted his thanks to the fans for their support afterwards.
Looking back, we’ve had former striker Andriy Shevchenko at Cobham recently, and last week we brought news of the Ukrainian Football Federation (FFU) offering Sheva the opportunity to coach his national team. This week we can report he has turned it down.
‘Representing the national team for many years was a great honour for me and with the team I enjoyed many memorable moments and vivid emotions,’ he said in a statement posted on the FFU website.
‘I am grateful to the Federation for the high level of confidence they placed in me by offering me the chance to lead the national team.
‘But I think today, to lead a team like Ukraine is a somewhat premature step for me. I hope the leadership of the FFU will react with understanding to my decision.’
The current Chelsea squad will fly back to London immediately after Tuesday night’s game in Turin and before taking on Man City on Sunday, three of them, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta will be in the Megastore at Stamford Bridge on Friday afternoon , signing copies of the Chelsea Annual between 4.30pm and 5.30pm.
Roberto Di Matteo will have already spoken to the media that lunchtime ahead of the clash with the league champions, and in the evening, Branislav Ivanovic will be the latest player to talk to supporters when he takes calls on Chelsea TV’s Friday Night Live show.
Finally, former Blues John Dempsey and Dave Beasant will be in the Chelsea Museum at Stamford Bridge before that Man City game, meeting supporters between 12.30 and 3pm.