Result: Chelsea 5-1 Manchester City (FA Cup Fifth Round)
Venue: Stamford Bridge (Sunday 21st February 2016, 4pm)
If I do miss anything out from this day, I sincerely apologize. I write this only slightly intoxicated, so there may be a few missing links from the Sunday five days prior to writing, but let’s see how we get on shall we?!
Getting up early and intending to meet City fan Ashley who had bought the tickets and arranged travel earlier that week, I was surprised slightly later that morning to have a series of missed call alerts and a series of ever more panicky messages on my phone. It turned out that I’d misread the texts and thought we had a half-hour extra in hand to get the coach down to London. With this not being the case, a mad rush ensued.
Thanks to my Dad, we arrived dead on nine-o’clock and with the Megabus running ever so slightly late, we made the coach. But only just. The spectre of having to shell out God knows how much in reparations from missing it would have been too much to handle. But, thankfully, this was averted and onwards to London Victoria we headed.
After a very uneventful journey, we eventually arrived in the outskirts of London, passing Wembley on our way in. After passing other famed landmarks such as Marble Arch, there were also a number of flash cars dotted here and there, none more so than a Bugatti Veyron and numerous Ferraris and Lambos.
Upon arriving into Victoria Coach Station, Ashley and I headed out into the city’s streets, but not long after, we encountered another guy looking for the way to the game. After telling him the best way, he u-turned and disappeared. Strange. Anyway, Ashley had requested a food-stop, so we ended up in the flashest of Chelsea’s restaurants. Yes, you guessed it, a McDonalds.
Before long, it was time to head back onwards to the ground and it wasn’t until we reached the streets once more that Ashley pointed out our friend had followed our lead and ended up two tables away. This wasn’t to be the last spotting of the mystery man that we would make on the day!
After a further half-hour’s walk, we eventually came up upon the World’s End section of the high street and soon cut up to Fulham Road and Stamford Bridge itself. Upon reaching the ground, the usual steps of buying a programme (£3) and being subjected to numerous security checks were undertaken. I felt uncomfortable when I took a picture of the outside of the Bridge and a steward approached.
“Big ground to take a picture of isn’t it? Nice ground!”
“Yes, yes” I replied.
“Can I have a look?” said the steward seemingly gesturing to my camera. Visions of ending up in an MI5 room filled my thoughts as he said this, but it turned out he just wanted a quick look through my bag, as usual and didn’t suspect me of anything more sinister. At least, not that he said!
After a further two checks, I was eventually allowed in to the Bridge and Ashley and I rekindled our alliance inside the concourse. With no alcohol available, I plumped for food and a Chicken Balti Pie, which was pretty good in terms of the filling but lacked in pastry quality. Having said that, the customer service of the staff at Chelsea was second to none I’ve encountered so far this season at such a level, with the small things all adding up so fair play.
Eventually we made our way into the away end in the corner of the Shed End. Yes, once again I would infiltrate the away end. Don’t judge me. Soon enough, news of the City team filtered through and optimism in the travelling support fell away. When the Chelsea team news also reached the eyes and ears of the Citizens, all hope seemed gone, though one guy seemed highly excited and continually shouted for either Willy Caballero or Joe Hart to “give him a wave”. With no such action forthcoming, he moved to the ‘keeper coach. He wasn’t one to fulfil the guy’s request either…
After a 40 minute wait, the unveiling of Matt Mizaga and Alexandre Pato and a show on the big screen of Chelsea’s smashings of City, the teams made their way onto the field of Stamford Bridge ready for what, on paper, was a heavyweight clash. The two sides on the day were poles apart, though, and only one result seemed likely. Could Chelsea add to their successes and add another few clips to their big screen history reel? Well, speaking of history….
Chelsea FC was founded in 1905 after Gus Mears bought the Stamford Bridge athletics ground, failed to lease it to Fulham and so began his own club. Success was almost immediate, with Chelsea achieving promotion from Division 2 of the Football League in their second season, having been elected straight in and went on to have a yo-yo period throughout their early years.
The League Championship, the club’s first major trophy, arrived at the Bridge in 1955 and despite qualifying for the newly created European Cup, Chelsea were persuaded by the League and the FA to withdraw. 1965 saw the League Cup appear in the trophy cabinet and five years later, a second FA Cup arrived before they achieved their first European triumph, the Cup Winners’ Cup, with a win over Real Madrid.
After a period of struggle through the ’70’s and early ’80’s after the redevel0pment of the Bridge caused star players to be sold and other monetary worries, the arrival of Ken Bates as owner seemed to change the fortunes of the club and 1984 saw them return to the First Division as champions. After a quick return to the second tier in 1988, they were again promoted after winning the division the following year. The club also won two Full Members’ Cups in 1986 & 1990.
After securing the ground in the early ’90’s, further success followed with the 1997 FA Cup and the ’98 Super Cup & Cup Winners’ Cup plus a further FA Cup in the Millennium year. 2003 saw the club sold to Roman Abramovich and this, in turn, provided more funds and therefore more silverware.
Jose Mourinho guided Chelsea to back-to-back titles in 2005 & ’06 as well as two League Cups (’05 & ’07) and an FA Cup in the same year as the latter League Cup win. After Mourinho was dismissed in animosity, Chelsea reached the Champions’ League Final in 2008, but lost on penalties. I won’t go into why…
2009 saw current (and then) caretaker manager Guus Hiddink win the FA Cup before Carlo Ancelotti moved in and led the Blues to their first Premier League and FA Cup double. 2012 saw, arguably, Chelsea’s finest moment as former player Roberto Di Matteo led them to Champions’ League glory (on penalties) and added the club’s seventh FA Cup.
After Rafa Benitez ensured the Europa League reached the Bridge meaning that Chelsea became the only club to hold two major European titles and the only British club to have won all three, Mourinho returned to the club in 2013 and achieved a League and League Cup double. But this season saw Chelsea struggle enough to flirt with the relegation zone briefly, meaning the Portuguese was relieved and Hiddink returned for a second spell as caretaker boss.
The game got underway at a good pace, with both sides really going for it. The first true chance fell to Chelsea and to their Spanish winger Pedro. The ex-Barcelona man received a clever return ball to fire past City custodian Willy Caballero, but the effort rebounded against the upright and away from danger.
After the first 20 minutes, Chelsea gained control of the game and it was little surprise when Diego Costa opened the scoring, stooping to head home from inside the six-yard box. It seemed the first of many.
But City struck back almost immediately from the kick-off, a ball out to the right found debutant Manu Garcia. His low ball across was deflected into the path of fellow youngster David Faupala, who rifled the ball into the roof of the net, before celebrating in front of the home fans and riling them up.
Pedro almost restored Chelsea’s lead, but was denied by a fine save by Caballero, and despite large amounts of pressure from the home side it remained level at the break, with the young City side had shown good resilience to hang in there. With next to nothing of note happening at the break bar Ashley spotting the mystery man in the away end and the appearance of the FA Youth Cup and the Chelsea pitch announcer guy getting needlessly annoyed as the City fans booed at the players who beat their youth team in that final, the second half was soon underway.
Straight of the bat, the Blues restored their lead through Willian’s low drive, before Gary Cahill all but ended the tie with a low half-volley from the edge of the area, his effort going under City’s Argentine ‘keeper. By 70 minutes, people in the away end were beginning to leak out the ground, largely due to the fact that Eden Hazard had struck a free-kick in for four.
Even then, Chelsea showed just how strong their side was on this day bringing on the likes of Oscar, who missed a penalty, Bertrand Traore and Nemanja Matic. It was to be the middle of the trio who was to round off the scoring, looping a header over Cabellero and sneaking it into the corner via the post. 5-1 and that was that.
So, we headed back out into the Capital’s early evening, with the highlight of the walk back being an announcement by a mother to her young daughter:
“Don’t worry darling; When I get back from skiing, we’ll go to H&M.”
Arriving back at Victoria some 40 minutes later and were pretty much straight on the National Express coach back up North. After a sleep interrupted 5-hour journey, we eventually pulled into Manchester again at just before midnight and grabbed a black cab back home as our only possible course of action. Though after a long trip, the sight of the taxi was most welcome.
And so ends a second trip to the country’s capital city this season and especially happy to have ticked off another target of mine before the threat of the rebuild looms large. Next up, Scunthorpe…
Game: 7- Good game, one sided though.
Ground: 8- Good view and facilities.
Fans: 7- Much better than I expected for the competition especially.
Food: 6- Nice filling, average pastry. £4.50 rather pricey too, though not unexpected.
Programme: 9- Good issue and well worth the purchase.
Value For Money: 8- Ground I’ve wanted to do, loads of goals. Coach nothing to repeat soon!