As Diego Costa’s bicycle kick was bundled inside the goal, I was jumping up and down in my sofa with excitement. There was a feeling, a feeling of inevitability, a feeling of knowing something is going to happen, for the rest of this intriguing contest.
And on paper, the Blues should’ve had a minor routing party against the Swans (no offense).
The last few minutes of the game weren’t moments of nervousness for me. Because it doesn’t really matter at this stage of the competition–we’re barely past August. But it was more a joy of knowing there was a full-fledged contest going on now, which is so much more than could be said of the neither-here-nor-there first half.
Diego Costa’s goal had given us the lead going into the interval, and the Welsh club looked all but dead. There were some instances where goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois might’ve had a look over his shoulder, but the Swans had failed to register a single shot on target in the contest thus far.
Indeed, much of the storyline–to my horror and the neutrals’ amusement–had been about Diego Costa. The Brazilian-born Spanish-international had a tremendous amount of influence in the first half, both on-and-off the ball, as is usually the case with a striker of his temperament and passion.
The thing that was unusual, though, was that the striker was the clear victim more often than not–most fouled than any other by a country mile, as it’d turn out–and was booked for one challenge, his first. Seriously, it’s like he is being targeted by referees.
Costa’s all-mightiness, however, may not have been required to get this team over the line (or rather, on the line) had Eden Hazard decided to show up to this game. The Belgian had one of his poorer performances to date after the stellar start to the season that he’s had, picking up three Man-of-the-Match awards from three games. Although to his credit, he put in a very industrious shift.
The dynamic of the game changed significantly during the second half. There was much more purpose about both sides, but it was clear who was on top, and who on bottom. That entire picture shifted when Barrow’s crossfield pass in Sigurdsson’s direction during a counter-attack took a very eerie swerve that Courtois could not adjust to properly. The result? A clumsy last ditch all-in effort to kick the ball away that could’ve very well resulted in the Belgian keeper being sent off.
This was the moment that everything changed. The Swans’ first goal, though, was not as shocking or downright frustrating as their second. Not three minutes had passed before a pass back to Cahill followed by the England-international spending too much time on the ball resulted in Leroy Fer’s outrageous nick and soon thereafter goal. Cahill claimed that the foul could be seen from the ‘moon’ in his post match interview. That should tell you a fraction of how angry I felt.
But, there was no time to waste. The match had just about 15 minutes more to run, and the Blues pushed everyone forward. It didn’t matter if they got caught on the backend of it. It was all or nothing.
And that scenario happens way too often during the Blues’ games against lesser opposition than they or I would like.
But that is also what makes my claim bold and true. Football is an entertainment business. If I was half-dying during a match between Chelsea and a Welsh juggernaut, I can’t imagine what neutrals must’ve felt watching these clubs’ fans react to every shot and every miss and every piece of control as it is about to happen.
The song “Boring, boring, Chelsea…” may finally be out of tune.