Cup fever!

The fixtures have been coming thick and fast through December, and on Wednesday evening the Blues welcomed AFC Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge to fight for a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Another journey to Fulham Broadway straight from work resulted in a quick slice of pizza at ‘Whole Foods’, before I made my way to my seat in the West Lower for the fourth time this month. With such a busy fixture list around this time of year, rotation of the squad is key, and this was something Conte alluded to in his post-match interview. He believes use of the entire squad across all competitions has allowed us to perform well in the League, Champions League and the Carabao Cup, and this is before our FA Cup campaign starts in the new year against Norwich at Carrow Road.

Before the teams came out on to the pitch, the main floodlights of Stamford Bridge were dimmed and there was a light show to get the crowd going. I love it when this is done at evening games, I think it really adds to the atmosphere just before kick-off.

There were eight changes to the starting XI that beat Southampton on Saturday, one being the inclusion of Ethan Ampadu at the centre of our defence. I thought he had a brilliant game and was a thoroughly deserved man of the match. He made the most passes out of everyone on the pitch last night, with a success rate of 99%. Our defence in looking strong for the future with the likes of Ampadu and Christensen in the squad.

It was a great team effort which put us ahead, with Batshuayi, Kenedy and Fabregas all contributing to Willian’s goal. But as I mentioned in my blog piece after the Southampton game, a one-nil lead is always a nervy position to be in. Just as all of us thought the game was over, probably fans and players alike, Bournemouth equalised in the 90th minute. With the prospect of extra time now looming over us, maybe even penalties after that, heads were in hands. But just 75 seconds later, a Hazard backheel followed by a strike from Morata meant hands were now above heads – talk about a rollercoaster few minutes!

This was Morata’s eleventh goal for the Blues, and his celebration was dedicated to his wife Alice, who is expecting their first child. The Spaniard was booked for this, which I think was extremely unfair, and unfortunately he is now suspended for our weekend game against Everton. He will be missed, but we have Batshuayi, Hazard, Willian and Pedro as options to go forward.

So the Blues have reached the final four, and our bid to win the League Cup for the sixth time is on track. We have been drawn against Arsenal in the semi-finals, playing the first leg at Stamford Bridge, the week after we play the Gunners in the league at the Emirates. The busy fixture list does not ease up after Christmas, but we have the squad depth to fight on all fronts. Come on Chelsea!