Chelsea got back on track with a comfortable win over Fulham. John Obi Mikel scored. Yes, really
Crisis over. Jose wins. Mikel scores. Normality is restored. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.
90 min: We're looking at three extra minutes.
89 min: Richardson's mishit cross has to be pushed behind by Cech at his near post. Cech punches the resulting corner away.
88 min: At least we know why Mata isn't playing now.
87 min: Mourinho has turned John Obi Mikel into a goalscoring midfielder. He really is special.
85 min: The indignity of conceding a goal to John Obi Mikel. Oh Fulham. The Chelsea fans are singing that he scores when he wants, the wags.
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN JOHN OBI MIKEL SCORED A GOAL? Lampard curls the corner to the far post and Terry heads it down into the six-yard box, where Mikel is waiting. Not even he can miss from there and he batters home a volley like a seasoned striker. A moment of history and the victory is Chelsea's. I'm just going to check outside to see if any pigs are flying. Frank Lampard must be feeling pretty nervous about his goalscoring record now.
83 min: From Chelsea's 12th corner, Fernando Torres almost seals the points. Oscar flashes it to the near post and Torres;s header is brilliantly palmed over by Stockdale.
82 min: Taarabt is lazily dispossessed by Mikel who sends Torres on his way. He lays the ball off to Ramires, whose shot is deflected over by the excellent Amorebieta.
81 min: "Mourinho is five games into the task of turning Chelsea back into title contenders," says Ben Watson. "It wont happen overnight, and will involve a fair bit of pain, because they were miles away from it in the last two seasons. But it almost certainly will happen." I've actually got them winning the league but it's been a strange start.
80 min: Frank Lampard replaces Andre Schurrle. He's scored nine against Fulham.
77 min: A long pass down the inside-left channel finds Hazard but his weak effort trundles through to Stockdale, who remembers not to throw it in the goal.
76 min: Fulham actually mount an attack but Kasami's cross doesn't reach an isolated Bent.
74 min: I do feel sorry for the people who have paid good money to watch this. Meanwhile I've just had a critical email from a Fernando Villas-Boas. Imagine being that guy.
72 min: Fulham bring on Buomesca Tue Na Bangna, a young winger, for Alex Kacaniklic.
71 min: It wasn't a dive. Amorebieta caught Ramires's foot.
70 min: Ramires turns away from Amorebieta and falls over the defender's outstretched foot in the area but the referee waves away his appeals. If it wasn't a penalty, it was a dive.
69 min: It's actually quite a feat to make a squad with these players this boring.
68 min: Andre Marriner can probably blow up now.
66 min: Chelsea have had the ball for a while. "It's way too premature to think of Mourinho getting sacked after a couple of bad results, but just how much leeway do you think Roman will give Mourinho?" says Tanay Padhi. "If, come December, Chelsea are out of the Champions League and more than 4 points off the league leaders, it's hard to see even Mourinho being allowed to continue, especially if the football remains this abject."
64 min: But first Chelsea replace Samuel Eto'o with Fernando Torres. And then Fulham bring on Taarabt for Damien Duff.
63 min: Adel Taarabt will be coming on shortly for Fulham.
60 min: Of course, we forget that Martin Jol is also under pressure. Fulham's fans can accept losing at Chelsea but I suspect they'd like to see their side do more than defend. They're dull.
58 min: "Outside of all the indigant comments about Mata (and for the record i think he should be starting) does anyone think Eto doesn't deserve to be starting ahead of Torres?" says David Flynn. "For although last season Eto scored 21 in 44 appearances compared to 22 in 64 for Torres, he was playing in a much lower league against much worse teams than and as Jose himself has said this week, Eto isn't as sharp as he should or will be. Add to that it's a league that he isn't used to and that the pressure is on for the team to start scoring and winning, would we say that is this really the time to be throwing him in at the deep end?" Torres, though.
56 min:The goal has woken Chelsea up. Oscar drills a pass to Ramires on the edge of the area. He sets himself and punts a volley which Hangeland deflects over.
55 min: John Obi Mikel has a shot from 30 yards. I'll allow you to fill in the rest.
54 min: Fulham should be level. Kasami curls a free-kick to the far post from the left and Sidwell seems surprised that it reaches him, the ball clunking off his head and over the bar. He was unmarked six yards from goal. A bad miss.
A goal in keeping with the game. Hazard spots Schurrle on the left and he beats Riether on the left before hammering a cross into the six-yard box. There should be no danger at all but Stockdale haplessly spills the ball at Eto'o's feet. He tries to turn it goalwards and although Stockdale pushes his effort out, the ball falls to Oscar, who can't miss from that close. Jose Mourinho: genius.
51 min: The camera finds Juan Mata in the crowd. He looks delighted.
50 min: Another corner to Chelsea, this time won by Ivanovic, who did well without any support. Yet again, it's a dismal corner.
49 min: Oscar wins a corner off Richardson on the right. He can't beat the first man but gets another chance. He takes it short and wins a third corner.
48 min: It's not better.
47 min: Mikel chips a pass out for a throw-in to Fulham.
46 min: It's the second half! Stamford Bridge is still asleep.
"The only thing that surprises me is that people are surprised about the current malaise," says Craig Smaaskjaer. "If you gave me a choice between everything that happened under Jose and the double under Ancelotti, I would be raising my eyebrow high, beyond even Roger Moore levels and recalling the real 'special' moment in our recent history. I was glad to see Jose go the first time, was ambivalent about almost everything that happened whilst he was there, and really couldn't give a toss about whats going on now. I would put the Cup Winners Cup win or the 97 FA Cup higher than Jose's achievements. His 'witty' musings to the press and desire for controversy have always been a fundamental prerequisite because they mask the cynical football he has insisted on over the years. He has, clearly, come back because he was about to be fired at Madrid and probably after promising to entertain. But he cant. He doesn't know how. And now, even his press conferences have become tired and embarrassing."
"Mourinho's playmaker of choice is someone like Deco - incidentally, a greater creative talent than even Mata -, who, during the Porto years, had a defensive toughness about him and was a brilliant interceptor of the ball," says Philip Podolsky. "I think he expects Mata to do more of those things, which strikes one as risibly doctrinaire given that players of this caliber tend to have highly individualized styles of play."
I'm struggling to work out what Mourinho is up to here. You could understand leaving Mata out if the other players flourished but they aren't. They were utterly clueless in that half.
There are boos at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have been appalling.
45 min: Chelsea morph into Bad Arsenal. Cole chips a pass into the area, where Eto'o and Hazard both decline the opportunity to shoot, betraying a real lack of confidence. Hazard seemed almost determined not to shoot, prodding the ball to no one in particular on the right. Luckily Ivanovic arrives and his firm drive is saved by Stockdale, who is grateful to see the ball spin behind for a corner.
43 min: Oscar to Hazard. Hazard to Eto'o. Goal-kick to Fulham. In fairness, it was excellent defending from Amorebieta.
41 min: Hazard, so peripheral in the first half, drags a dismal shot well wide from 25 yards.
40 min: "His Real side had a high genius ratio, didn't it?" says Harry Tuttle. "Ozil, Ronaldo, and Di Maria all regulars. Ok, so he subbed Ozil after 50 minutes every game. And he played Di Maria as a wing-back. And he converted Ronaldo into a centre-forward. So, erm, he does know what to do with genius: make it suffer."
It would have been hard to stifle a ready-made Ronaldo, though, and he didn't get on with the big characters in the squad. At Chelsea, he's having to develop these players. You trust Ronaldo because you have no choice. It's not quite the same with players like Hazard and Mata.
38 min: Let it be said that if Chelsea were playing like this under Benitez - and they regularly did - the fans would be making their displeasure known much more vociferously.
37 min: Fulham attack for the first time in a while. Duff is found on the overlap on the left but his low cross towards Bent is put behind for the visitors' first corner. It's cleared.
36 min: This is a bit better from Chelsea. Eto'o can't quite jump high enough to meet an Ivanovic cross but the ball comes to Hazard on the left. He finds Ramires in the area and his shot is deflected wide for a corner. Stockdale punches it away and Hazard ambitiously wallops a volley wide from 25 yards.
35 min: Oscar is a magnificent young player, already part of the Brazil team, and he's going to be a star. It's unfortunate that there will now be inevitable comparisons between him and Mata now. They should be playing alongside each other.
34 min: It's Oscar. He curls the ball, the ball hits the wall, Stockdale catches the ball.
33 min: Now then. Kasami bumps into Hazard around 25 yards out, to the left of the D. It's made for a right-footer. But Lampard and Luiz aren't around to take it.
32 min: Fulham are struggling to get out of their half now. It's not quite defence v attack, though, because Chelsea are so lacking in inspiration.
30 min: This week, when I haven't been asleep or rinsing my mouth out with salt water, I have been wondering whether Mourinho knows what to do with genius. Chelsea have been abject so far.
27 min: "Do you think perhaps Jose is still bitter about the nature of his departure from Chelsea, and has spent the last few years plotting to get back there in order to take his revenge?" says Mark Gillies. "I really wouldn't put it past him."
Are you saying we should expect a £20m bid for Tal Ben Haim in January?
26 min: Cahill drifts a pass over the top of the Fulham defence and towards Eto'o on the left. He cuts inside and his low right-footer is deflected into the side-netting with Stockdale rooted to the spot. The original effort wasn't going in but Chelsea almost enjoyed a huge slice of luck there. Nothing happens from the corner.
24 min: Ramires is strong, quick and can sometimes produce an outstanding finish. But, my word, his passing is terrible. He should play for England.
22 min: I think David Luiz can improve a lot defensively but Chelsea so often benefit from his surges from deep against this sort of opposition at home. It's been said before but Mourinho is often more interesting than his teams.
21 min: "This is the same man that benched Saint Iker for the first time in 10 years," says Tony Campisi. "It would surprise me if he DIDN'T have a go at fan favorite Mata. If they do win the title, who will drop the trophy under the bus?" Is Ross Tuirnbull still around?
20 min: Schurrle sends a flat free-kick into the Fulham area from the right and the ball skims off Ramires's head and through to Stockdale. Twenty minutes in and Chelsea look edgy here. Fulham haven't been overly troubled and have had the best chance.
19 min: Chelsea are lacking imagination. If only they had a player who could offer them some!
17 min: Schurrle wins a corner for Chelsea on the right. Terry heads it over the bar. "Can you imagine the abuse Rafa Benitez would be getting from the Chelsea supporters if he was the manager benching Mata and Luiz?" says Robert Hisnay. "Instead, so far Mourhino is getting a free pass. How's the Vicodin holding up?"
Indeed I can and I've seen this point being made a lot - thing is, Mourinho is one of theirs and Benitez wasn't. He'll be given much more slack and probably won't ever get abuse. I haven't got any vicodin sadly.
16 min: It really was a tame finish from Bent, which is a surprise. I expected him to blast it past Cech.
14 min: Up the other end, Andre Marriner waves away appeals for a Chelsea penalty after Riether appeared to push Hazard over. Seen them given, ladies and gentlemen.
13 min: Fulham should lead. What a chance for Darren Bent. Kasami picked the lock with an outstanding pass in between Ivanovic and Cahill to release Bent. Usually such a clinical finisher, he took a touch and then hit his shot too close to Cech, who saved easily. Perhaps there was a bit of rustiness from Bent, who hasn't played a lot of football recently.
12 min: Gary Neville was panning Eden Hazard during the Basel game the other night. I can't recall him having a touch yet.
11 min: Ivanovic drives a straight low cross into the Fulham area but Schurrle can't make contact with his volley. It was at an awkward height.
10 min: Parker pings a straight ball over the top of the Chelsea defence, looking for Bent, but Cech is quickly out of his area to head clear. "I'm going to say that I don't think Mourinho is stupid: his rate of success suggests he has an idea about fussball, and he is already getting the press away from Manchester and back to him," says Jamie Wills. "He also needs to get the rest of the team capable of winning without Mata magic: too often Mata was the only one who could unlock a team. Sometimes Chelsea were painfully useless at scoring without Mata or Drogba. The two defeats so far can be absorbed - Everton was a bit unlucky, and Basle is recoverable. They should be able to beat Fulham, and he gets another week of toying with ideas. Ferguson did the same thing with Rooney whilst the problem is actually the make up of the team."
Right, but the other players are going to have more chances to score if Mata is playing. Look at his assist record last season. It was incredible. And Ferguson properly fell out with Rooney. United don't do this with Van Persie, do they?
8 min: Abramovich looks glum. He always look glum. Fulham's fans are standing up because they hate Chelsea. It's an away game. Why weren't they already standing up?
6 min: Now Chelsea attack and Ivanovic curls a brilliant cross to the near post. Stockdale is waiting for the ball to drop into his arms but he hasn't counted on Eto'o, who dashes in front of him but succeeds only in diverting the ball away from goal. That was sharp.
5 min: Look at Damien Duff go. Look at his little legs whir. Off he goes, whizzing down the right flank, but he's not quick enough to evade Ivanovic. He plays it back to Riether, who clips a lovely pass through to Kacaniklic. His low ball into the six-yard box is cleared by Terry but only back to the Swede. Eventually the ball is curled to the far post where Sidwell heads powerfully over.
3 min: "We might not want to get carried away about Juan Mata's trophy record. I think he's a fantastic player, but he played twenty minutes in the World Cup and I don't think substantially more in the Euros," says Peter Raleigh. Fernando Torres has also won both trophies, and with far more involvement than Mata, despite the fact that he's rubbish. So that might not be our best means of demonstrating Mata's excellence." A fair point. We'll just say he's their best player and most teams in the world would want him.
2 min: Chelsea fans are singing about being carefree. A bit of irony there for you.
Peepity peep! Off we go. It's Saturday, it's night, it's football, it's Saturday night football. Chelsea take a textbook kick-off and they're attacking from right to left in the first half. "You mentioned one of Jose's big weaknesses in your Preamble, but I think his biggest weakness is that he confuses togetherness with siege mentality, and he is unable to facilitate the former without the latter," says Daniel Finucane. "And it has been the consequences of this weakness that lead me to believe he is bad for football. To JR's point about Jose's questionable civility, a smaller weakness is his sheer lack of integrity. Going to take responsibility for losses? Not going to single out players? He sure mentioned Eto'o and Schurrle a lot post-Everton, and he definitely mentioned Mata once, twice, or five times more recently."
Here come the teams. Chelsea are in blue tracksuit tops, Fulham are in black. They'll be taking those off in two minutes and then someone else will have to pick them up.
"Re your preamble comments re Fulham and our luxury attacking options," says Nick Johnson. "The point about Jol and the fans is that it's not been entertaining at all. Since well before the end of last season we've been woeful - low scoring, weak in midfield and porous at the back. If you haven't seen us yet you'll see what I mean by the end of tonight's game."
"I'm pretty sure if you replaced "Juan Mata" with "Joe Cole" you'd find a number of Jose spiels circa 2005 that are otherwise word-for-word," says Harry Tuttle. "I remember one game where Cole had a hand in all of the goals and was hailed by Mourinho after the match for tracking back."
Perhaps but Mata has won the Euros, the World Cup and the Champions League and has far more talent than Cole.
"They've got you working a double today, huh?" says JR in Illinois. "Are you going to make it? How are the painkillers treating you? In answer to your Mourinho question the answer is yes. And he is not only an enemy of football but he's an enemy of all civilized humanity. I am not a fan (in case you weren't sure)."
My jaw is starting to hurt. Had a nap earlier.
Here's Mourinho on excluding Mata and Luiz: "It is about a team. It is about 11. We have 24. I think Oscar is the player that is more consistent in the attacking areas. I have Willian on the bench for the same position. Juan has to fight for his opportunity. He played against Everton and Basel. His performances have been unconvincing. Luiz is tactical. I didn't like so much his game against Basel. The team needs some stability."
I was typing as he spoke so that's a bit rough and ready. But the sentiments are clear. He's not keen on either Mata or Luiz. It's not surprising, really, but Mata was Chelsea's best player last season and the one who makes them tick.
Chelsea could do with a goal from Samuel Eto'o today. Romelu Lukaku scored the winner at West Ham on his Everton debut today.
Here are the teams, minus one Juan Mata. David Luiz is also not included in the squad. Fulham are without Dimitar Berbatov, who must be injured.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard; Eto’o. Subs: Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Essien, Lampard, De Bruyne, Willian, Torres.
Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Duff, Sidwell, Parker, Kačaniklić; Kasami; Bent. Subs: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, Taarabt, Rodallega, Zverotić, Na Bangna.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Is Jose Mourinho the enemy of football? You decide.
The early team news is that Juan Mata is not even on the bench for Chelsea. Assuming he's not injured, this is bizarre from Mourinho.
Hello. Has anyone got Avram Grant's number? Ok, I jest. It's not that bad - it's never that bad, even if it has been that bad in the past. Nonetheless these are uncertain times for Chelsea, with people genuinely questioning whether Jose Mourinho has lost his mojo after his experiences at Real Madrid and whether he should have returned to Stamford Bridge. Never go back, they say - bunkum, of course, but they are feeling pretty smug right now after Chelsea's recent stutter. They've lost their previous two matches and it's been an uncomfortable week for Mourinho, who has never lost three successive matches in his career before. Few people, though, are expecting Fulham to make history this evening.
All is not well with Chelsea at the moment, though. They don't have enough quality in central midfield, they don't have a top-class striker and Mourinho says he needs time to teach this side his football. Time, though, is not usually a luxury afforded to managers at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho will get it, for the time being anyway, but he would probably make life easier for himself if he put his faith in Juan Mata. The suspicion with Mourinho is that he is not naturally inclined to trust artists and his comments about Mata on Friday did offer an insight into his mentality, as he spoke about the Spaniard's need to work harder. Perhaps but Chelsea have relied so much on Mata's genius over the past two seasons. Sometimes you have to let these creative talents flourish and develop. Sir Alex Ferguson understood that; if Mourinho has a weakness, this could be it. Of course, you need balance. You can't have too many of your Berbatovs and Ruizs and Taarabts. Unless you're Martin Jol. All very entertaining, but it's not keeping the Fulham fans off his back.