A game that had it all!

To say that our game against Norwich yesterday evening was ‘eventful’ would be a huge understatement. There was a bit of everything – skimmed crossbars, stoppage time equalisers, red cards, VAR controversy, extra-time, penalties and even severe delays on the District line. For the neutral, it must have been brilliant to watch. As a Chelsea fan, it was full of highs, lows, relief, and just pure bafflement at times. I left Stamford Bridge absolutely shattered!

The evening began with a 15-minute delay to kick-off due to problems on the Underground. Fortunately, having gone to school just behind Stamford Bridge in my youth, I’m quite familiar with the public transport routes in and out of Fulham. A train to Putney and a trip on the number 14 bus meant I arrived in plenty of time for kick-off.

The Blues went into this game following three goalless draws on the bounce and they were clearly looking to rectify this from the off. Willian and Cesar Azpilicueta came close to finally breaking the deadlock in the opening moments, before Danny Drinkwater saw a tremendous strike from range thump back off the bar. I thought Kenedy put in a good, lively performance and young Ethan Ampadu also look solid in defence. It was great to see Michy Batshuayi score on what was his 50th appearance for the Blues, and to finally end our goal ‘drought!’

Conceding goals has not been a problem for the Blues over the last few games, so it was incredibly frustrating to see the Canaries equalise with virtually the last kick of normal time. With such a busy schedule at the moment, Chelsea really could have done without an additional half an hour to play, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. It was also a real shame to see Spanish duo Pedro and Alvaro Morata sent off in extra time, as they are now both suspended for our league trip to Brighton at the weekend. Having said this, it does mean they will both be rested for our semi-final second leg against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup next week. It was the second Chelsea game in which VAR was made available, but from the drama it seemed to create last night, it shows the technology still needs a lot more testing and tweaking. See Antonio Conte’s post-match thoughts for more on that, as it was a real topic of conversation in the press conference after the final whistle.  

I thought Willy Caballero was worth his weight in gold and, in my opinion, he is one of the main reasons we are through to the fourth round. He made some brilliant saves throughout the two hours of play, not to mention then going on to stop Norwich’s first penalty in the shoot-out, which ultimately proved the difference.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t overly optimistic when it came to the penalties. With the luck we seemed to be lacking in the tie so far, I just thought it wasn’t going to be our night. Fortunately, I was wrong. Five great penalties from the Blues meant we sealed our place in the next round – a home tie against Newcastle next week.

So after all that drama, we piled out of Stamford Bridge in good spirits, albeit slightly later than we first assumed. But there’s nothing like delays on the Underground to bring you back down to earth again. I’m assuming we all got home eventually?!