March 5, 2013
Dynamo Kyiv @ Chelsea, EURO Cup
Chelsea 2 (Romelu Lukaku 45p; Eden Hazard 55) – Dynamo Kyiv 1 (Admir Mehmedi 82)
Blues’ Best: Eden Hazard
March 9, 2013
Chelsea @ Cardiff, FA Cup
Cardiff 1 (Don Cowie 71) – Chelsea 0
Blues’ Best: Branislav Ivanovic
March 16, 2013
West Ham @ Chelsea, EPL
Chelsea 1 (Branislav Ivanovic 50) – West Ham 1 (Marouane Chamakh 40)
Blues’ Best: Branislav Ivanovic
March 19, 2013
Chelsea @ Wigan, EPL
Chelsea 1 (Victor Moses 81) – Wigan 0
Blues’ Best: Oriol Romeu & Victor Moses
March 21, 2013
Leigh hated press conferences. The lights, the attention, the fear she would say the wrong thing at the wrong moment. She felt nauseous as she waited for Melanie to tell her everything was ready, and wished Jessica were here instead. Melanie’s face was always slightly pinched, her eyebrows drawn together in a constant expression of small disapproval. Every time their eyes met, Leigh’s stomach tightened slightly, and Melanie’s thin smile of reassurance only set the butterflies fluttering further.
She scratched at the label of the water bottle with a fingernail, caught herself, stopped. She stared at the ragged edge of the label, and feeling a flush creep up her neck, cursed silently to herself.
Leigh? It was the second time Melanie had said her name. They’re ready for you.
Leigh flashed a quick smile and walked into the small room, squinting against the lights. She walked up the metal steps and sat down on the ancient folding chair, the Chelsea logo barely visible after years of use. She carefully set the water bottle down so the torn side faced away from the sea of reporters.
Melanie waited in front of the stage for another smile, her hands clasped in front of her, and when it came, she began to point at reporters, one by one.
How’s the injury, Leigh?
It’s fine. I’ve been training at full speed for a week now. All good.
Any worries it will be an ongoing issue?
Leigh shook her head. None at all. It was just a freak thing. We’ve added like some different stretches to my warmup, it’s all good.
Another voice took over, this one deeper, almost a growl. How long do you think you’ll have to wait before playing with the first team?
Leigh sighed to herself. They had prepped this question endlessly. I play with the first team almost every day. Beyond that, it’s up to Coach. Whenever they need me, I’ll be ready.
So you think you’re ready now?
There was silence for a moment, as the reporters were unsure if she was asking a question or not. Physically, emotionally. Everything. Do you really think you’re ready for the … The deep voice continued after a slight pause … rigors of the league?
Leigh heard Jessica’s voice in her head. There are words you need to be careful of, Leigh. Words like rigor, physicality, emotional stability. They’re code for things that you’ve fought against all your life, but when you hear them, you have to just go lightly. Don’t be afraid to not answer a question–they aren’t really asking you anything, they’re fishing for a headline.
She reached for the bottle, smoothing the dangling tear along the bottle with her finger as she lifted it to her mouth. That was another thing Jessica had taught her, how to delay and pause before she answered.
I’m ready was all she said, staring out into the sea of lights. I’m ready.
March 27, 2013
It’s really for the best, Jessica. Really.
Jessica counted slowly to herself, moving the headset mic away from her mouth so her slow exhale went unheard. Her hands were tied, and she knew her frustration was a bit misplaced. It wasn’t Danyil’s fault that the American federation had called Leigh into the USA U20 squad. She calmed her voice as best she could. So, when?
The Irishman. What’s his name? Langford? He said she would be back on the fifteenth.
Yes. Maybe not until that Wednesday. The seventeenth.
Danyil’s voice was slow and measured, each sentence a harsh requirement. So, if she’s back. If she’s ready. If she’s healthy.
This time Jessica couldn’t prevent her voice from straining. Yes, yes. If all of that is true.
It was Danyil’s turn to take a deep breath. The twentieth. At home. Everton. And if not, then the twenty-seventh.
Jessica smiled cautiously. You sure?
You want to give me time to change my mind?
She laughed. No. I don’t. OK. I’ll get with Melanie. Again. But we’re doing it for real this time. One month.
March 31, 2013
Chelsea @ Liverpool, EPL
Chelsea 0 – Liverpool 0
Blues’ Best: John Terry
# # #
League Position: 4th of 20, 13 points behind Tottenham (1 point ahead of Manchester United, behind Everton and Liverpool).
League Goals: Eden Hazard (11); Assists: Leighton Baines (7); Rating: Hazard (7.67)
Overall Goals: Hazard (22); Assists: Hazard (17); Rating: Hazard (7.84)
Lost in a lackluster stretch is the massive year being racked up by Eden Hazard, who is almost single-handedly keeping Chelsea alive in the race for a Champion’s League slot for next year. Winning the league would take a massive push, and the defeat to Cardiff was quite a shock. So, it is up to the squad to hold on to 4th (or improve on it) or qualify through the EURO Cup, in which they are still alive.