Monday was a new low for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. One disappointing defeat to Manchester United, two infuriating VAR decisions, a third straight defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a fourth league game without a win. As I made my way home, there was one key thought on my mind: “We have to win on Saturday.”

Saturday has finally come, another morning waking up for a matchday. It’s derby day at the Bridge, with bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur the unwelcome guests to SW6. I’m excited and confident as ever, but the nerves are just as high as they were five days ago.

With problems on almost every Tube line, I’m forced to take a different, longer route. TfL force me onto the Central Line before I can make my way to Fulham Broadway, and start my pre-match rituals. My scarf is on, the programme is bought and the walk down Fulham Road has begun.

James (@FtblJames_) and I have arrived on time, but we have to wait for Shayan (@FinallyChels). When he finally arrives 40 minutes late, it’s time for our pre-match predictions.

It’s the same as usual: I am the optimist, going for a 2-1 Chelsea win. James is the realist, calling a 1-1 draw. And Shayan, of course, is the pessimist, going for 3-0 Tottenham. Who turned out to be right?

There’s always a different atmosphere at the Bridge when Tottenham are in town. One of anticipation and tension, vying for the bragging rights of the capital. We have to win these games to claim our title of the Pride of London, and we simply cannot lose to our arch nemesis.

Credit: Nischal. Edit: Kristen.

Olivier Giroud has a big chance to give Chelsea the lead, but Hugo Lloris saves well. Ross Barkley follows up the rebound, but his shot bounces off the bar. Two huge chances missed, and I think the chance is gone. But if at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try again.

A third time lucky, Giroud thumps it home and the Bridge is in raptures. I’m in ecstasy with 40,000 Chelsea fans, embracing my dad with a huge hug. The sound is deafening, the scenes are beautiful, and the Frenchman has marked his return to the starting lineup with a huge goal. Chelsea are in front, and in what style.

Chelsea are in cruise control, and we’re loving every second of it. The sun glaring in my eyes cannot dampen the mood, cheering the team on at every moment. This feeling of happiness and joy feels like one we haven’t had in a long time, six weeks without a league win or a victory at the Bridge.

Credit: Nischal. Edit: Kristen.

We’re in full voice, a sight absent too often this season, as we lead our arch rivals on derby day.

I take a look at the dugouts, and see a certain Portuguese manager. I’ve lost all my respect and admiration for José Mourinho, and desperately want to defeat him on his Stamford Bridge return. It’s weird seeing him in the opposition dugout, but it’s no foreign sight when looking back at his Manchester United days.

The special one has lost his charm, now trespassing on enemy lines. You’re not special anymore.

Mason Mount is having an outstanding game pulling the strings, César Azpilicueta is bursting into the box at every opportunity and Marcos Alonso is running down the wing for me. Alonso then hits one of the sweetest volleys I’ve seen in a while, which agonisingly drifts over the bar as I’m disbelief. So close yet so far.

The half-time whistle blows. Chelsea lead.

There’s the feeling that something is coming up after the break, that belief that the Blues have more up their sleeve. Chelsea regain their flow in the second half, moving the ball well to the adoring cheers of the Stamford Bridge faithful. The football is full of flair, and the reward is not far off.

Mount plays it to Ross Barkley, who touches it over to Alonso to finish a wonderful team move, driving his shot into the bottom corner. An enormous roar and wild celebrations follow, my tea spills a bit over my hand, but I am carefree in celebration. 2-0 Chelsea.

The atmosphere is electric, something that has not been the case on far too many occasions. There’s a renewed feeling of positivity, belief and joy, confirmed by the final whistle. No One Step Beyond, but Blue is the Colour marks our celebrations with a huge derby win, equally important in our pursuit of a top four finish.

It’s amazing how much can change in a week. It began in miserable fashion with the depleted performance against Manchester United, with a negative and lifeless mood around the Bridge. Just five days later and it’s pure delight and genuine exhilaration, having convincingly defeated our rivals with an outstanding display.

This is what it’s all about, enduring the painful lows to enjoy the blissful highs. Chelsea are back to winning ways and are halfway through a blockbuster quartet of home fixtures. Next up: Bayern Munich. Let’s have it.


Read more of my work at nischalsp.wordpress.com

Twitter @Nischal_SP

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