In all the years I’ve been going to games at Stamford Bridge, I’ve very rarely been late for kick-off.
On the odd occasion the District line has let me down or a pre-match meal or drinks have overrun slightly, but for our game on Sunday, I was that fan that turns up 20 minutes into the first half.
I had a 10am Sunday morning engagement that I had to attend, which was then followed by the mad dash to Stamford Bridge to try and make the midday kick-off. Still standing on the platform at Richmond station at 11.57, I knew I’d be missing a good chunk of the first half.
Thank goodness for Twitter and the Chelsea app for keeping me updated! My phone buzzed to tell me Pedro had scored in the fourth minute, and I was hoping the rest of the action would spread itself out over the course of the 90 minutes.
The Spaniard’s strike was Chelsea’s 1000th home Premier League goal, making the Blues only the third team to achieve this feat after Manchester United and Arsenal. At least I’d be able to see it on Match of the Day 2 later that evening.
On the train there was a Blue-clad family sitting opposite me listening to the commentary on The 5th Stand app, and I was grateful to be able to eavesdrop and get a rough idea of how the Blues were getting on.
Pulling into Fulham Broadway, myself and the all the other late Chelsea fans sprinted towards the way out, and of course, the matchday exit was now closed, so we all had to go the long way around through the station.
I eventually reached the West Lower concourse, which was completely deserted, and I could hear the singing and chanting coming from the stands above. I finally made it to my seat, albeit a bit out of breath!
Needless to say I didn’t miss all the action being 20 minutes late. The Blues came extremely close in extending their lead throughout, with Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Pedro and Marcos Alonso all denied.
Fulham became more dangerous after the break, but it was substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek who was able to seal all three points with his late strike. It was Ruben’s fifth goal in his last six appearances in a blue shirt, and despite being on the pitch for just 25 minutes, he put in a great performance, linking up with Hazard superbly and making a real case for a place in the starting line-up.
Following the disappointing result against Spurs last weekend, it was important that the Blues returned to winning ways in the Premier League as soon as possible. There are few points between the top five, and with Arsenal and Spurs playing in the North London derby later on Sunday afternoon, it was a great opportunity to gain some ground on whoever dropped points there.
The win against Fulham on Sunday meant the Blues are now unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in 14 matches in all competitions – a run which goes back to April. Let’s hope they can keep it up well into the new year and beyond. Come on Chelsea!