It is tempting to wonder whether the Chelsea players will excuse Nicolas Anelka their tradition that all new arrivals at the club have to perform a song in front of the squad. For some reason it is hard to imagine Anelka blundering through a karaoke version of, let's say, "The Wanderer", purely for the amusement of his new team-mates.
Anelka will not be the man volunteering to organise the players' nights out and do not expect him to be masterminding the training ground pranks. The Frenchman's career tells us he is an odd muddle of insecurity and restlessness at the best of times, but he is nonetheless a class act on the pitch. Just a few touches in little more than half an hour against Tottenham told you that Chelsea have bought an accomplished striker to ease their worries in Didier Drogba's absence.
Of course, Chelsea should never have been able to buy Anelka in the first place. He should have been at a much bigger club than – with respect – Bolton and one that could resist a fee of £12m rising to £15m, depending on what he achieves. But that is the anomaly of Anelka. Until Friday he had spent arguably the last five years of his career playing at clubs that were, quite frankly, beneath him.
To mark his transfer to Chelsea, the striker who holds the unofficial Premier League record for minutes on the pitch looking fed up, spoke after the match. He offered a fairly poignant insight into his gadfly football career, which hinted at mistakes he may have made and advice he took that was probably not in his best interests. He may not be the life and soul of the party but Anelka was at least realistic about his life.
The 28-year-old said that he felt he was at a stage in his life where he was happy. "When you are 20 you are shy, you don't react in the same way," he said. "Now I am nearly 29, I've lived a lot of things in my life, so everything changes. Even in your head things can change because you go through so many things in your life. I don't think I've changed a lot but you grow up as a person.
"I think I am happier now, more content and settled. Sometimes you don't realise the chance you have when you are playing at a club like Arsenal. But now I am at Chelsea, I know what happened in the past, and I'm just happy to be here. It's very important to be happy in my life. Now I will be happy on the pitch and do good things."
Watching such an undoubted talent, the mind drifted back to Arsène Wenger's point on Friday that it was Thierry Henry, signed by Arsenal to replace Anelka in 1999, who became France's main striker at Euro 2000 one year later. It is also possible to imagine that Henry has had the career Anelka should have had. Almost nine years have passed since then and Anelka is most famous now for being the butt of that tired old joke about having more clubs than Gary Player.
Still, he has never let anyone down. It was Gérard Houllier who did not want to make Anelka's loan period permanent at Liverpool and he scored goals in a Manchester City team going nowhere under the Kevin Keegan regime. Anelka said that Dennis Bergkamp was the best he has played with but was quite clear that he felt he would be compatible with Drogba – which is just as well for his new manager, Avram Grant.
"Drogba is a big player and I know the way he plays," Anelka said. "I can play around him, or we can play two up front. I think I will complement him because I feel I am a creative player. I don't want to just be on the pitch to score. I want to pass too. Didier is a striker and he likes to score goals. And we both speak French, so I think we can be a good partnership."
Anelka hit the bar in the last minute of the game, but by then he had already convinced Stamford Bridge that he is no dud or, to put it another way, he is not another Claudio Pizarro, whom he replaced. Grant picked Shaun Wright-Phillips in the centre of midfield for the second consecutive game and it worked nicely – the Englishman was the game's best performer, along with Joe Cole. For a man who talks a lot about being different to his predecessor, the repositioning of Wright-Phillips might just be the most radical thing Grant has done since he took over.
No one can argue with his results, though. In third place and just four points behind Arsenal, Chelsea's manager has delivered stability, even if he did not have to think too hard to beat Tottenham. Suspensions and injuries left Spurs with a central midfield of just the unimpressive Kevin-Prince Boateng and the willing, if inexperienced, Jamie O'Hara. Dimitar Berbatov looked uninterested, Radek Cerny shaky and Chelsea took care of the rest.
Juliano Belletti blasted in the first goal on 19 minutes, Wright-Phillips drilled in the second late on and Cerny should have done better with both. Aaron Lennon made a mug of Ashley Cole in the first half and you have to wonder how long he will keep getting the big games ahead of Wayne Bridge. As for Anelka, he looks like he will fit in just fine.
Goals: Belletti (19) 1-0; Wright-Phillips (80) 2-0.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Carvalho, A Cole; Makelele; J Cole, Wright-Phillips (Sidwell, 90), Ballack, Malouda (Bridge, 84); Pizarro (Anelka, 58). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Ben Haim.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cerny; Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Lee; Lennon, Boateng (Kaboul, 84), O'Hara (Defoe, 77), Malbranque (Taarabt, 58); Keane, Berbatov. Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Gunter.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Booked: Chelsea Makelele, Ballack; Tottenham Boateng, O'Hara, Lennon.
Man of the match: Wright-Phillips.
Terry targets Capello's first game for comeback
John Terry hopes that a scan of his broken right foot today will reveal he could be fit in time to make Fabio Capello's first game in charge of England against Switzerland on 6 February.
The England captain broke three bones in his foot in a challenge from Emmanuel Eboué on 16 December and was ruled out for six weeks, but he hopes the scan will show he is healing ahead of schedule.
Capello is set to name his first squad on 1 February and Terry would have to have played for Chelsea before then. The defender (pictured) said in his matchday programme notes on Saturday that his injury was "healing up well". He added: "I'm looking to step up rehabilitation now. I have been able to do much more over the last few days."
Capello has flown to Zagreb for a fixtures meeting with the rest of World Cup qualifying Group Six. As well as their Croatian hosts, Capello will meet representatives of Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Andorra.Reuse content