In the midst of the coronavirus panic comes another game at the Bridge. I set off to the train station, with hand sanitiser safely zipped away in my pocket. I’m one of the lucky ones you see. While others were raiding Tesco, I was raiding my house. It’s every man for themselves. I’m ahead of the curve once again, as I pass shoppers waiting to buy a lifetime’s supply of toilet roll, before stepping onto the train to Putney.
Food consumed, The Byline in my ears, I begin the walk to Stamford Bridge in glorious sunshine. Then, just as I’m halfway to my second home, torrential rain. The weather was as unpredictable as Chelsea’s home form, and I wondered what team would show up today. It did make the decision to skip meeting up with anyone before the game much easier though. Shayan and Nischal are great to talk to, don’t get me wrong, but being dry outranks them by far. Sorry guys.
The game kicked off and I was sat in my usual stand of East Lower, just near enough to Ancelotti that I could hear his screams, as the Everton players failed to remember his plans. We started much the better side, our dominance felt from early on, as Mount’s late run into the box set up an exceptional save from Jordan Pickford. The home fans were pumped and on their feet. Everton should have considered themselves warned.
Behind me, an American woman screams ‘go’ and ‘whoo’ every time a Chelsea player touches the ball. It was an insight into the MLS fan base which frightened me to my very core. Those same tones could be heard as Barkley played a beautiful ball in behind Everton’s defence, which Pedro latched onto and finished brilliantly past Pickford. We were asserting our dominance and finding a clinical edge that had been missing for so long. Everton hadn’t heeded the warning signs.
Complacency then reared it’s ugly head again as Zouma was caught on the ball, presenting Everton with a good chance, which Calvert-Lewin thankfully fluffed. It was a warning that the concentration levels couldn’t fall again, and they didn’t. Giroud had a snapshot at the other end with his right foot as Chelsea went into half time with a 2-0 lead. Spirits were high in the stands after a dominant 45 minutes.
The second half kicked off, and a half team team talk from Ancelotti appeared to have had little effect. Everton were on the back foot once again, which Willian took advantage of with an incredible drive into the bottom corner. Stamford Bridge was on its feet again as the three points looked to be all but secure.
Minutes later the French excellence of Giroud ensured the win, with great movement in the box before tapping in Willian’s cross. We’d barely sat down before we were up celebrating another goal. Everton fans started dispersing, players’ heads fell and the academy show could begin.
Reece James came on in a midfield role, moments after Chelsea had come close to a fifth. Then around ten minutes later, a kid who was sitting next to me with his Dad, said ‘Hey look it’s Tino’. He’d been talking throughout the game and I’d be willing to bet money that he knows more than many of the football Twitter accounts I’ve seen.
Back to the game though, and it was time for the Premier League debut of Tino Anjorin, who received a loud cheer as he entered the pitch. Towards the end of the match, he was joined on the pitch by Armando Broja who replaced the excellent Olivier Giroud.
The King of the academy show however, had played the full 90 minutes, had been having his name sung all game and had just collected his second MOTM award in succession. Billy Gilmour produced a masterclass of a performance in the middle of the pitch, cementing his place in the team. Jorginho will certainly have to earn his spot back now, because Billy isn’t about to let go anytime soon.
The return of Carlo Ancelotti certainly didn’t go well for the Italian, as Chelsea ran out 4-0 victors, in the highest scoring home win of the season. Frank Lampard had outsmarted another of his former managers, and had done so with a convincing team performance.
Heads now turn to Villa Park and the task of beating Dean Smith and JT’s Carabao Cup finalists. The race for the top four continues. UTC