Guest fan blog Mon 29 Jan 2018
Following Chelsea’s exit from the Carabao Cup against Arsenal recently, an immediate return to winning ways was high on the agenda for Antonio Conte’s side. A brilliant team performance from the Blues on Sunday afternoon delivered just that.
With the drama of our third round tie versus Norwich still fresh in my mind, I was hoping for a win against Newcastle and an avoidance of a replay at St. James’ Park. Recently the Blues have had games every three or four days across all competitions, and with the Champions League knock-out stages looming ever closer, we could do without adding even more fixtures to an already jam-packed schedule.
As the teams came out to the sound of the ‘Liquadator’, a new banner emblazoned with ‘Forza Conte’ made its way across the Shed End. Former Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez made his way to the away dugout, and you could sense the excitement from both sets of fans. This is, after all, the FA Cup, and it’s a competition that everyone wants to win.
While there are no ‘easy’ fixtures, regardless of which league the opposition is from, a tie against another Premier League team can make progression into the next round just that little bit more difficult. Fortunately, on this occasion, the afternoon produced a ‘routine win’ for the Blues, as Mark Lawrenson described it, on Match of the Day on Sunday evening.
Three great goals meant our spot in the fifth round was sealed within the 90 minutes, much to my relief! Michy Batshuayi scoring twice will do wonders for his confidence, while he was actually unlucky not to finish the afternoon with a hat-trick. Alonso’s free-kick was just superb and it was the Spaniard’s seventh goal this season so far – a new career best – and a tally I’m sure he’ll add to as the season continues. Pedro was lively and sharp, and probably deserved a goal for his efforts. Down the other end, Willy Caballero, yet again, demonstrated how lucky we are to have such a brilliant back-up keeper, making some vital saves in both halves and ensuring he kept a clean sheet.
It was great to see a Stamford Bridge debut for our latest signing, Ross Barkley, as well as a first team debut for youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi, who wore the number 70 shirt. Here’s a little fact for you - this is the highest ever shirt number worn in Chelsea history!
It was a case of ‘job done’ for the Blues and exactly the kind of performance we needed. We will find out who our fifth-round opponents will be later this evening, when the draw takes place, as we aim to win the FA Cup for the eighth time. Come on Chelsea!