Waking up in the morning to watch Chelsea on the weekends has been my getaway from University and work. I enjoy the time to catch the football with my family and friends. From waking up at 7 in the morning to catch Chelsea on early weekend mornings or sneaking my phone on my lap during class on the weekdays. I have all the programs from NBC Sports to ESPN Plus where I can catch The Blues play Premier League and local cup games. Being an American sometimes gives me the luxury of having multiple broadcasting services that allow me to catch every match. Being from the states makes it hard to talk with fellow friends about Chelsea matters as most of them enjoy American sports but being able to chat with fellow Chelsea fans on social media from all over the world including the U.S makes me feel like they’re right next to me.
The FA Cup draws have provided less tension and stress whenever they’re on throughout the years but nowadays it seems like every Chelsea game is a nerve-racking experience to witness especially from a TV set. Chelsea were hosted by the Tigers, Hull City yestarday afternoon exactly at 12:30 pm eastern time (ET) kick-off time. With no work in the way, getting up and enjoying a nice breakfast while viewing other matches allowed me to prepare myself for the Chelsea match. Witnessing Barcelona lose to Valencia was an exciting morning match for a neutral but then to spectate the stress-inducing Chelsea to barely hold on to a 2-1 win summarizes the life of a Chelsea fan at the moment.
Checking the lineup an hour prior before the match, reminded me once again that this will not be an easy game. With Pedro and Batshuayi all starting, my confidence in this game wasn’t strong as both players have been inconsistent all season with Pedro being the last of the pecking order in terms of wingers. Marcos Alonso once again was back in the lineup and hoped he would put on a decent showing especially in a back four. Accepting the fact that Chelsea are in a transition period allows me to have the mindset that no game will be a walk in the park. Chelsea have struggled all year in putting away their chances and have kept the opposition in the game despite going up and this exactly what transpired. Having my cup of joe ready, I turned on ESPN Plus on my smart TV and tuned in the commentators talking about the recent form as the players were getting ready in the tunnel. I caught some of the Tottenham game shortly before and saw them blow a 1-0 lead to Southampton and that gave me some relief knowing our London rivals have to go to a replay in the upcoming weeks. Usually, before a game, I have my drink, my comfortable sofa chair that is paired with a pillow. The pillow usually goes flying across the room if the performance is bad enough to warrant it. It did go flying in the Everton game a couple of weeks ago but normally as any fan displaying the passion is the name of the game.
With not much surprise Chelsea did not start well and I was edging myself out of my seat in disappointment as Chelsea gave the ball away very foolishly allowing the home side to capitalize in some half chances. As I enjoyed my tasteful homemade coffee, (In a Chelsea mug of course), I sometimes wondered how I didn’t spill out my drink whenever Chelsea made a stupid mistake but this time a prospering event happened while I was doing so, a goal happened. Right away I saw that Mateo Kovačić was given freedom on the ball and that Hull City weren’t pressuring the talented Croatian and this time it cost them. His extraordinary outlet ball found Azpilicueta who played the ball first time to the box that found a way for Mason Mount who went in for a shot but got immediately blocked by a Hull defender. The ball bounced off a Hull defender and back to Michy and his shot went deflected but still found the back of the net and too much relief, Chelsea were up 1-0 just like that. The pressure of my shoulders fell off as Chelsea didn’t have a good first 5 minutes and that the goal meant a lot for the match.
After the goal, Chelsea looked sharper and quicker on the ball and Hull City were having trouble keeping up with Chelsea and my eyes were lit up observing Kovacic dictate the game in midfield. He was making strong through and long passes to other Chelsea players that started attacking opportunities but Hull City was not pressuring him so I figured that would change in the second half. Chelsea were dominating possession and had several chances to put the game away early before the break but the quality in the final third once again let them down. This is a retelling tale as its one of Chelsea’s highlighting flaws but every missed chance still gets me knowing that it could kill the game. When half time approached my coffee cup was surprisingly half-finished as well so I refilled my mug, grabbed a snack and came back my seat to watch the half time highlights.
I couldn’t really enjoy my snacks as Chelsea started off sloppy and sluggish and Hull City came out hungrier out of the two. Grant McCann adjusted his tactics and had one of his players stay up and close on Kovacic which disrupted Chelsea’s play. Too much frustration to my eyes, Chelsea could not build up any sort of attack and get into the final third. I figured Hull could equalize with the momentum shifting but around the 62nd minute, another surprising event happened. A through ball finally broke the Hull press and Mason Mount looked like he was going to drive with the ball but was fouled before he could do so. The ref gave Chelsea a free kick and to be honest I wasn’t really confident in the set-piece as we normally don’t score from them. Ross Barkley stepped up and took the free-kick which curled into the opposition box and Fikayo Tomori beat his defender on the far post and scored. I raised myself out of my chair to celebrate yelling, “COME ON GET IN!” onto the television screen finally being able to let out a scream of relief but calmed myself quickly knowing that just one goal will bring back Hull back into the game. That ultimately did occur at the 78th minute when Marcos Alonso fouled Magennis just outside the box. I groaned in irritation as the foul was given and forced myself to watch transpired shortly after. Kamil Grosicki was the one that took the free-kick and his shot got deflected off Mateo Kovacic which unfortunately found the back of net catching Caballero off guard. As Hull players celebrated on my television screen I just started shaking my head in disappointment realizing I was in for an even more stressful last ten minutes. Every time the ball came into our box my heart skipped even to the last play which was Hull corner but I let out a sigh of comfort after Chelsea cleared their lines and the ref blew his whistle for full time. I raised my fist into the air slightly celebrating the victory but ultimately felt very much bittersweet.
Chelsea never made it easy for themselves this season and as a fan who watches them week in and week out, never quite get used to the roller coast of emotions that happens throughout the match. Yet I will always have the excitement whenever a Chelsea game is on and will continue to do so because that is what being a fan is all about.