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Month in Review - October


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Carlo Ancelotti's mob begun the month with 15 points already on the table, the sole blemish being the away defeat to Manchester City, a side the Blues had now lost to 3 times running. October's first encounter was in the Premier League, and it was no ordinary match - Arsenal came visiting for the first 'Big 4' clash of the season, and a London derby to boot. The Blues were had been boosted by a Champions League group stage win against Marseille the previous week, and they were looking to to put further distance between themselves and the chasing pack by grabbing all the points against a quality opposition. As always in games between these two sides, the most prominent name on the team sheet was that of a certain Ivorian. Didier Drogba returned to the lineup, fresh due to serving a habitual Champions League suspension and was raring to go at his favourite opposition. An electric Stamford Bridge saw the game begin with Arsenal surprisingly the dominant side in the initial stages. Marouane Chamakh and Laurent Koscielny wasting glorious opportunities to put the away side in an early lead and allowing the hosts to gradually grow into the game. Big games like these are often won or lost in the midfield and that's where the first telling contribution of the game came from, Chelsea's Brazilian new boy Ramires tackled ferociously and played a through ball into the oncoming Ashley Cole's feet whose perfect cross found Didier Drogba and the big targetman showed incredible skill to somehow backheel the ball into the net with his back to the goal. Arsenal's domination of possession counted for little as Chelsea went into the break a goal to the good. The second half saw more of the same, Chelsea defending the width of their box and Arsenal trying to pass their way into the net, but having no success at it. With 90 minutes approaching and the home support growing more and more restless, another man who loves to score against Arsenal stepped up to literally annihilate any hopes of a comeback from the visitors. The outcome seemed almost inevitable as Alex lined up his 30 metre freekick. An almighty thump and a few milliseconds later, he was seen milling away in delight, getting drowned in a sea of blue jerseys while the ball still continued to spin furiously in Fabianski's net. A statement of maturity, determination and intent from the reigning champions saw the month begin on a very sweet note.

Midweek international games followed and it was not until the 16th of October that fans would have a taste of Chelsea action. The venue was Villa park, a decidedly ominous ground for the Blues. The continued absence of Frank Lampard and a fever-stricken Didier Drogba meant that the champions' visit was made an even tougher task. Once again, it was the opposition who started the brightest and Chelsea had Petr Cech to thank for keeping them in the game till half time. Putting off Stephen Ireland when he had just the keeper to beat, a brilliant one-handed save from a John Carew effort and generally looking calm and assured while coming for crosses meant that 'Big Pete' was on his way to rediscovering his best form for years. The Blues started the second half on a much more positive note, largely due to the energetic Yuri Zhirkov who had come on for the young Frenchman Gael Kakuta at halftime. A result seemed more and more likely as both sides hit the woodwork, Branislav Ivanovic for Chelsea and Ciaran Clark for Villa. The loudest cheer of the night however was reserved for Jose Bosingwa who was making his return to the first tream after being out for almost a year. With the game nearing the end, Nicolas Anelka should have secured 3 precious points for Chelsea, but somehow managed to head an Ashely Cole cross into the post from a mere 2 yards out. It could have gotten worse for the visitors but thankfully for them, Nigel Reo Cocker chipped wide when one on one with Cech in the final seconds of the game. A point at Villa Park a decent result.

Champions League action beckoned as Chlsea returned to Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium for their first competitive match there after the 2008 CL final loss. Much of the media buildup to the game focussed on this aspect and John Terry was among a number of Chelsea players to reject apprehensions of nervousness or bad memories among the Chelsea squad on their return to the scene of that fateful night. But the best way to overcome any lingering doubts was to seal 3 points against a Spartak Moscow side that currently lay tied on points at the top of the group table. If it's Moscow, it had to be the Russian Yuri Zhirkov to leave his mark on the game. A delicious left footed volley from the edge of the box resulted in his first goal for the club. Nico Anelka doubled the advantage just before half time, his calm finish, his 50th for Chelsea. A lower intensity second half followed as Chelsea conserved some energy for weekend Premier League action and eventually rode out comfortable 2-0 winners.

Mick McCarthy's Wolves visited Stamford Bridge for the 9th league game of the season. The Blues welcomed Didier Drogba back into the side but Frank Lampard's continued absence meant that Zhirkov got his first league start of the campaign. Jose Bosingwa also started his first game for the club in a year and it was he who came closest to breaking the deadlock early on. Having a right-sided Ashley Cole clone nearly reaped dividends straightaway, only to be thwarted by the Wolves' keeper. Chelsea were not at there best and afforded Wolves a lot of time and space on the ball and it could have hurt them had any of a number of Matt Jarvis crosses been nodded home. But they weren't and Wolves paid the price for their wastefulness when a lovely passage of play between Anelka and Zhirkov teed up Florent Malouda for a right footed finish. The French winger's 7th goal of the league campaign sent the home side into the break 1-0 up. The surprisingly open game continued into the second half with both sides creating chances but not taking them. It was left to a fit again Salomon Kalou to put the game to bed late on, his 5th league goal putting a rather undeserved sheen on the scoreline.

Blackburn's Ewood Park was the venue for the last game of the month, another place the Blues had found tough to negotiate in recent years. With Blackburn on the cusp of a takeover, energy, spirit and determination abounded in the stadium as the Blues found it to difficult to deal with their hosts' offering them no time on the ball. The Rovers looked thirsty for the blood of the champions and took the lead just before the half hour mark, nomadic forward Benjani getting his first for the club, finishing off his shoulder and finally beating Petr Cech, who had been nothing short of exceptional upto that point. It was the first goal conceded by the Czech keeper in the entire month. But he was not about to kept quiet, this time making a key offensive contribution, putting through a wonderful early ball for Florent Malouda, whose crossfield ball was nodded down by Didier Drogba into the path of Anelka who finished calmly past an onrushing Paul Robinson. Chelsea perhaps lucky to head into the break on even terms. The second half saw a better performance from the champions, and Malouda's industry almost brought a goal for Zhirkov, only to be thwarted by Robinson. Daniel Sturridge was brought on after 70 minutes and he made an instant impact but his stinging long shot flew just wide and into the side netting. Jason Roberts should have clinched the game for the hosts in the 80th minute but he somehow contrived to pull his shot wide of the goal with only Cech to beat. His profligacy was to be punished however as Branislav Ivanovic nodded home an excellent Zhirkov cross from close range. The 83rd minute strike proving to be the decider as Chelsea continued their somewhat worrying run of unconvincing performances.

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Very nicely written, succinct and cohesive. Well done, a very good recount of the month!

In retrospect I think this could be one of the defining months of the season. With the results we've had, we've been able to shrug off the impact of key injuries and a mounting fixture list. Overall this is, considering the small size of our squad and the weight of expectation at the club this term, the best start to a season we've had since 2005.

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Very nicely written, succinct and cohesive. Well done, a very good recount of the month!

In retrospect I think this could be one of the defining months of the season. With the results we've had, we've been able to shrug off the impact of key injuries and a mounting fixture list. Overall this is, considering the small size of our squad and the weight of expectation at the club this term, the best start to a season we've had since 2005.

Thanks mate, nice to be appreciated :)

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