Chelsea vs Juventus... that's some stuff we all want to see... I hope that he is able to go through!
Looks like barring the first game, Harry is getting goals regularly. Here's hoping he shines against Juventus!
Chelsea vs Juventus... that's some stuff we all want to see... I hope that he is able to go through!
Wonder how long in the last five years you were trying to put ther Haribo pun in
Nice to see the awesome dedication continue
March continued and the games continued to come thick and fast. He was barely at home with Elle as he was travelling either round the country or further afield in Europe.
First up in a triple header of cup ties was a very familiar trip out from London to Turin as Chelsea travelled to take on Harry's former club, Juventus.
He had first made that journey in January 2018 and he spent four and a half great years in Italy. He had very fond memories. The 135 goals he scored for the club being high up on that list.
He had loved the culture, the friendliness of the people, the cuisine. But all that had ended nearly three years ago and he now had a different focus. And his focus now was winning through to the next round with his current employers.
It wasn't going to be easy, even though Juventus were only 9th in Serie A. Chelsea would need to be on their game. Their prime objective would be to keep a clean sheet in the away leg and get them back to Stamford Bridge. Anything more than that would be a bonus.
Harry was given the welcome he fully deserved as he stepped out on to the pitch and he acknowleged the crowd who chanted his name.
Harry then hurried off to the changing room and returned seconds later with the rest of his teammates to take to the pitch ready for the game.
Chelsea certainly set up to look for the clean sheet with a flat back four, three defensive midfielders in front of them as well as to wide players asked to play very deep.
Harry would be the target for anything they cleared and would have to hold it up and wait for reinforcements.
Harry wasn't a big fan. Yes he understood that they had to be solid. That they wanted to avoid conceding. But three defensive midfielders?! He knew he would have the thankless task of chasing down aimless balls forward all day and would barely get a sniff at being near the goal, let alone getting a shot at goal.
He went out with a view to do his best though and that was all he could do.
I did not go well though. Within 20 minutes, Chelsea were two goals down and Harry had only touched the ball eight times.
Giuliano, playing on the right of midfield, had touched it once. The game plan from Michael Skibbe had gone very wrong.
Despite being behind though, there was no change in set up until Shane O'Connor went off on 56 minutes.
Things didn't get any better but at least they didn't get any worse. 2-0 the final score and there was still a small chance it could be turned around in the return leg.
That match was still on Chelsea minds five days later as they welcomed London rivals Arsenal to Stamford Bridge for the FA Cup Quarter Final replay. They had to put Juve to one side though and plot their way through this one first.
Another tough tie, another tie that could go either way and it would come down to in many ways how adventurous the manager would be in his starting line up.
This one had the incentive of an FA Cup Semi Final place for the winner though.
Skibbe took the initiative and sent Chelsea out in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Harry led the line. He was happy that he would have a bit more help in attacking areas but he still yearned for a forward partner though.
It was Arsenal who set up on the back foot and in a very defensive formation. Harry spotted this very early on and hoped that Chelsea could exploit it in the same way Juventus had to them a few days earlier.
They could not. Not in the first half.
Nor the second.
Not in the first half of extra time.
Nor the second.
120 minutes of football and just 5 shots on target in that whole time. It was not the best game and now it looked towards the lottery of penalty kicks to see which London club would progress.
England international defender Stewart Harrison stepped up first for Arsenal but had his shot saved.
Manuel Giandonato, Ivan Pulido, Giuliano, Jese and Joel Matip all scored to leave it at 3-2 to Chelsea as Antonio Graziani walked up for Arsenal. He looked nervous and it showed in his kick as it was tame and easily saved.
That left it to Enzo Zidane to stride up and send the keeper the wrong way to put the ball in the bottom right corner of the net and Chelsea into the semi final.
It was such a frenetic shootout that even the match report couldn't keep up with what was going on!!
They were through but it was hardly ideal preparation for the return leg in the UEFA Cup. There was just two days between the Arsenal win and stepping back on to the Stamford Bridge turf for the second leg. One in which they had to overturn a two goal deficit to progress.
That would make it all the tougher.
What a terrible tactic at Juventus! Feel sorry for Harry having to put up with Skibbe!
Got to say, I don't think Harry's move from Juventus has worked out in the grand scheme of things.
Oh man... great win against Arsenal but I do believe that they are doomed for the Juventus game playing overtime in the game before...
Five changes were forced upon Michael Skibbe for the game as players could not get back to full fitness. It was still a decent enough side but they would have to play above themselves to get something out of the game. Skibbe tried to motivate them as best he could and to be fair, Harry thought he had done a good job.
It was now down to the players on the pitch.
2-0 down but with a fervent Chelsea support behind them, it was possible but the players had to be on it from the off. They needed to score two unanaswered goals just to take it to extra time so it was going to be a tough ask but Harry was bang up for it. He proved that after just 9 minutes as a corner was flicked on at the near post and he nodded home at the far.
81 minutes to grab another one.
They took just three. As the clock ticked to 12 minutes, Harry broke through and was brought down in the box by his former teammate Guido Martini. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Right back Adam Matthews calmly stepped up and slotted Chelsea into a two goal lead and tied the game up at 2-2 on aggregate.
Stamford Bridge was bouncing. The players were pumped. Juve were reeling. It couldn't be going better. That was until seconds from the half time whistle. Juve fashioned a chance from literally nothing and Gabriele Damato received the ball, got it out of his feet and drove the ball through Loza and into the net. The place fell silent. Loza held his head in his hands. He couldn't believe it.
Juventus had the lead. More importantly for them, they had an away goal as well. Chelsea were back to square one, they needed two goals to progress. Only this time, they only had 45 minutes to get them. The players were understandably down in the dressing room. Michael Skibbe had it all to do just to motivate them to get back out there let alone go and thry and win the game but he tried his best, as did captain Adam Matthews and Harry had his say as well.
As they returned to the pitch, there was a motivation to them, they were ready to do all they could to try and overturn the deficit, again.
It was to and fro as the second half began. Chelsea would have a chance to get themselves back into it and Juve would have a chance to try and seal the tie. Both defences were standing strong until the 69th minute. Enzo Zidane found himself in space on the right and crossed deep for Harry to attack the ball, jumping higher than the defence to put them back into the lead on the night, and level on aggregate.
They were of course still behind on away goals. But they had 20 minutes to put that right.
Juventus went back into their shells and tried to shut up shop. They needed no more but they had to protect what they did have. They had 20 minutes to hold out. Juve lasted just 6 more.
Zidane again was involved as he exchanged passes on the edge of the Juventus box before slipping a ball through for young Peter McKenna, breaking from his midfield position. The 19 year old showed composure beyond his years as he stedied himself and stroked the ball past Padellui in the Juve goal.
McKenna went mad as he celebrated the first ever goal of his career. If that wasn't enough it was the goal that put his team ahead and on course for one of the greatest comebacks since Barcelona defeated PSG in the Champions League back in 2017.
Chelsea were now 4-3 up on aggregate and with just 15 minutes to hold on.
Juventus now had to switch their focus completely. They were the ones who had to come out and attack, they were the ones who now needed the goal and Chelsea were the ones who had to soak up the pressure.
Skibbe completely changed the mentality. Shane O'Connor who had been playing left midfield was pulled back to play as an additional centre back. Gary Rogers dropped to defensive midfield, Sergio Canales to centre mid and Harry to no more than a slightly advanced central midfielder.
But, tiredness was taking it's toll. After 120 minutes and penalties in their previous match and all the excercions of getting back into and then ahead in this one, it was almost inevitable that they would tire.
They fought hard to preserve their lead. Matthews cleared off the line, Giandonato put his body on the line on more than one occasion. Loza saved a couple of good Juve chances.
Eleven minutes from time, the Italians got their reward. Veteran Ryo Miyaichi crossed deep and substitute Raffaele De Marco stuck out a leg and diverted it into the net. Chelsea players were distraught, Juventus were delighted. They had retaken the lead and there was barely any time to turn it around.
But turn it around they tried. All the Chelsea players went back to their original positions and Kevin Phillips, the centre back, was sent to play as an emergency striker. They were knocking on the door for the next five minutes. Cross after cross was being thrown into the Juventus box and on one occasion, Phillips hit the bar. It was after one of these crosses that was headed clear that Sergio Canales slipped whilst trying to get the ball back into the box.
This left Juventus clear to break and they did so in numbers. They had a 4 on 2 at one point and as Alberto Raggi broke into the box, left back Stuart Murray had no choice but to pull him down and give away a penalty.
Gabriele Damato (Fabrizio Miccoli regen) stepped up confidently and sent the keeper the wrong way. Juventus were still losing on the night but they celebrated the penalty like they had won the whole competition because it meant that they were now 5-4 up on aggregate and it was effectively game over.
It was indeed game over. The Chelsea players slumped to the ground, heads in hands.
Chelsea had nothing left. They were spent and despite all their efforts, the final whistle blew and Chelsea were out.
A harsh result! But they tried their best, as did Harry!
The Chelsea players were devastated.
They had done the hard work in the match more than once to get themselves ahead and into a position where they would be proceeding in the tie but ultimately two late Juventus goals meant elimination and the end of the UEFA Cup run.
They should have been proud of themselves for what they had done but the only emotion coming out was disappointment.
It was difficult in the Chelsea camp over the course of the week after the game. There was nine days from the Juventus game until they were back in league action at home to Wolves.
Michael Skibbe and his team had their work cut out to try and motivate the player for the remainder of the season. Just because they were out of Europe, it wasn't the end of the season. They still had a top 4 spot to fight for and of course they had an FA Cup Semi Final on the horizon as well.
It didn't seem to be getting through though. Players were still dejected. Despite the 9 day break players still looked jaded on the eve of the game.
Even Harry himself was downbeat but he snapped into action on the morning of the game. The words that Skibbe had been saying over and over again ver the course of the last week finally started to sink in.
Unfortunately on the day of the game, as he lead out the side with the captains armband on, it seemed he was the only one who had listened. As the whistle blew for half time, it was confirmed. They were still goalless but the only man who was creating any chances was Harry himself. The problem was he was having to create them for himself as no one else wa getting into any meaningful positions.
Joel Matip sprung into life after about half an hour but that was about it.
It took a rocket from the captain himself to get some of them motivated during the break and they came out in the second half and played a little better but still not what could be called well.
It was good enough though as Harry fashioned himself a chance on 57 minutes, got the ball out of his feet and fired past the Wolves keeper.
A win was a win and they had done so playing badly.
They couldn't hope to do that every week though.
The fact that the game temporarily took the side up to fourth seemed to spark the rest of the team into action and although they had dropped back to fifth by the time the next game came around away to Birmingham City, there was a chance they could go third if they won the game by a large margin.
The armband again changed sleeve and was passed on to Adam Matthews and the performance improved somewhat. The result did not though as Birmingham took the lead and it was only Harry's 35th goal of another impressive season that saved their blushes and rescued a draw.
It wasn't ideal preparation for the next match. The FA Cup Semi Final against Reading at The Etihad, Manchester.
I am amazed that this is still going. It is over 5 years since young Harry first hit our headlines. Top effort !
I can't say that I want success for Harry at either Chelsea or England, but atleast we are getting closer to the next phase of his career.
The artist formally known as The Eejit