Clubs on alert as Cole talks stall

Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City are taking a keen interest in Chelsea's contract talks with Joe Cole according to reports.

James Lawton: In three words, Hicks Jnr has spoken volumes about football's ruling class

The average fan is utterly deluded if he thinks he is worth anything more than the price of a ticket or a TV subscription

Essien faces four-week lay-off

Chelsea have confirmed that midfielder Michael Essien will be out for up to four weeks with a hamstring tear.

Ghana to investigate Essien absence

The Ghana Football Association will investigate the absence of the Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, Internazionale's Sulley Muntari and the Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan from the squad which travelled to Luanda for yesterday's friendly against Angola.

Everton turn down £14m Chelsea bid to lure rising star Rodwell

Chelsea have made their first significant move since their transfer embargo was suspended by making a preliminary £14m offer for the Everton teenager Jack Rodwell, which has been rejected by the Merseyside club.

Ancelotti dismisses swine flu fears

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti gave his squad a clean bill of health amid scares of a possible outbreak of swine flu at Stamford Bridge.

Drogba urges Chelsea to make Vieira swoop

Didier Drogba has urged Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti to make a move for ex-Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira in the January transfer window.

Drogba double has Chelsea off to winning start

Didier Drogba's double strike gave new Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti a winning start to his Barclays Premier League career.

Sbragia quits as Sunderland revel in rivals' demise

Sunderland 2 Chelsea 3

Lampard scoops record hat-trick of Chelsea awards

Frank Lampard has been named Chelsea's Player of the Year for a record third time.

Dream Teams: Chelsea

Chelsea are safe in the knowledge that two of their current crop have been selected in the Blues' Dream Team.

Pete Jenson: Messi forced into the margins

Argentine prodigy is cast adrift in Chelsea's sea of yellow shirts on night he hoped to underline world-class talent

Gerrard to return for mission impossible

Injured Liverpool captain expected to face Blues after sitting out Blackburn game

Chelsea ready to swoop for £40m Villa

Abramovich set to make cash-strapped Valencia an offer they cannot refuse

Gerrard to sit out Chelsea return

Muscle strain forces Benitez to choose between playing talisman in league or Europe
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there