Home is sweet again for Chelsea

Martin Rogers

Thoughts of home might not bring many thoughts of comforts for John Terry just now. Just 18 months after revelations that his mother Sue had been caught shoplifting, Terry's father Ted was exposed last week as an alleged drug dealer by a British newspaper.

On the soccer side, however, home is truly where the heart is for Terry and his Chelsea teammates.

Sunday's 1-0 victory over Manchester United kept Carlo Ancelotti's men on top of the English Premier League and made it six wins in a row at Stamford Bridge this season. Home dominance is how Chelsea built its success during its EPL title years under Jose Mourinho between 2004 and 2006.

The last three years, as United won three straight Premiership crowns, the Blues fell short of their Manchester rivals because of dropped points in their own stadium. If the West London club wants to regain the championship, then drawing up to seven home games is simply not an option this time around.

This season's form is being spearheaded by an English axis of Terry, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard, with the sting in the tail provided by imported strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. As for Ancelotti, he had some problems earlier in the campaign and it looked as if he might struggle to put together a defensive formation to cope with the rigors of the EPL. In particular, set plays were a major concern, but that appears to have been rectified. Suddenly, it’s Chelsea that looks like the form team of English soccer, as United, without Cristiano Ronaldo, seems to lack the firepower of previous years.

This is the time of year when Chelsea effectively built its title in 2004-05, as Arsenal slipped up and Mourinho's men built a wave of momentum and never looked back. That is needed again and even though a five-point gap over Arsenal and United is nothing, there is a growing aura that this team believes it can go all the way, both in the EPL and the Champions League.

Terry might have plenty to worry about in his personal life, yet soccer provides one home front with few concerns.

Weekend Best XI

1. Get him an Advil

Jose Mourinho admitted he has an unexpected headache to deal with after Inter Milan's Serie A was pegged back by a disappointing home draw with Roma. Juventus and AC Milan both won to narrow the gap to five points, while Inter was forced to rely on a Samuel Eto'o equalizer to salvage a point.

2. Get him a beer

Landon Donovan continues to make his critics look silly after clinching the Los Angeles Galaxy's spot in the Western Conference final with the decisive goal against Chivas USA on Sunday. Donovan struck his 16th career postseason goal and is a major reason why L.A. is now the favorite to lift the MLS Cup. Another is the superb form of David Beckham, whose wonderful cross-field pass helped set up Donovan's critical PK. Somehow, one of the worst teams in the league for the past two years is looking to be crowned the best. A Hollywood ending for Beckham?

3. Get him some earplugs

Sergio Ramos was on the receiving end of a fierce verbal outburst from Real Madrid head coach Manuel Pellegrini after foolishly getting himself red-carded in the Madrid derby against Atletico. Real was 3-0 up when Ramos hacked down Sergio Aguero in the second half and had to cling on for dear life to record a 3-2 win.

4. Keep an eye on …

The final round of African World Cup qualifying. With one game to go, only Ghana and the Ivory Coast are certain to go through. This week offers up a bunch of intriguing and vital games, including Egypt vs. Algeria and Morocco vs. Cameroon.

5. Catch a flight to … A few pints of Guinness is the perfect way to gear up for the most intriguing of this week's European World Cup playoffs. The tough and tenacious Republic of Ireland takes on France in Wednesday's first leg before Saturday's second clash in Paris decides which team reaches South Africa next summer.

6. Useless and completely made-up statistic of the week

0 – The number of borderline refereeing decisions that will go Bosnia-Herzegovina's way in its playoff against Portugal this week. Can you really imagine Cristiano Ronaldo missing out on the World Cup finals?

7. Fond farewell

A remarkable first season in MLS ended for the Seattle Sounders on Sunday with a 1-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo. However, despite being unable to progress further in the playoffs, the campaign must go down as an incredible success story, with the franchise having captured the imagination of the Seattle public. The big crowds and passionate support are proof.

8. Get ready to say hello to …

Juan Sebastian Veron. The last time you saw Veron was probably when he was floundering in the final days of his doomed EPL spell with Manchester United and Chelsea. However, Veron is a changed character these days. He's in superb form at the age of 34 for Estudiantes and widely seen as one of the keys to Argentina's World Cup success. Rumors in the Argentinean media are linking him with a move to MLS midway through next season, and if his current form persists, he would be an impressive addition.

9. Get ready to say goodbye to …

Tom Soehn. D.C. United's head coach stepped down after three seasons in charge. United's fall from grace was not entirely Soehn's fault – he suffered after being saddled with a bunch of under-performing Argentineans in 2008. He will get another chance in MLS, possibly with 2010 expansion club Philadelphia Union.

10. Get excited about …

Lyon's 5-5 draw with Marseille in French league action was an all-time classic that already appears to have locked up the "Game of the Season" award. Five goals in the final 11 minutes sealed an incredible afternoon between two in-form sides.

11. Why it's good to be a soccer player

Take a look at British singer Jamelia, the soon to be ex-wife of Walsall striker Darren Byfield.