Now, I have said this season that I rarely go to games on weekdays, but here I am writing about my third Tuesday night match of the season. This was already my fifth match of the season, which is probably more than I’ve ever done by this time.
The King Power Stadium would have been pretty high up on the list on grounds that I wanted to go to this season, simply because Leicester are the champions, and the atmosphere always seems quite impressive. Unfortunately the atmosphere was never going to be the same as with it being a week day and an EFL Cup match, some people just can’t make it down.
I ended up going to a home fans bar before the match to meet relatives, which was slightly awkward being an away fan. Everyone in the pub had Leicester shirts on, most notably a couple who had “Dilly Ding” and “Dilly Dong” on the back of their shirts. I’ll admit, everybody went a big mad with the Foxes at the end of last season when they won the league, but there is a stage when this becomes too much. Also, there was a Christmas tree up. It’s September. The world has gone mad.
It’s just a short walk to the ground, and there is space around the ground for fans to mill around before the game. The concourse area was a bit too small for as many fans who wanted to be in their before the game. Despite what I had been warned, the burger I had was actually one of the better ones I’ve had a football match, even if it was a bit overpriced at £4. I’m sure I say that every time I buy food on an away day.
I think you get a good view from every seat in the stadium, and the view was definitely good higher up in the stand, as I was about 30 rows up. Chelsea had sold out their away allocation of just over 4,000, and with the 30,000 or so clappers handed out to home fans, this was still good enough to lead to a decent atmosphere.
The first 35 minutes can be summed up easily. Chelsea kept possession well but never really did anything with it, and their defence cost them for a second consecutive game. Shinji Okazaki scored both goals, the first of which a close range header after the Blues failed to clear a cross. He bundled home a second soon after, this time making the most of a fortunate bounce to beat Asmir Begovic after an excellent pass from Andy King.
I have said before that I hate the clappers that they hand out at football matches, but when there were 30,000 fans using them in time, it makes for quite a good atmosphere, especially with the bloke with the drum in the stand next to the away fans. There was continuous chanting from both sets of fans for the first half hour or so, but the Chelsea fans were a bit quieter when they want 2-0 down.
This would have continued into the second half had it not been for Gary Cahill’s header on the stroke of half time. The centre half lost Wes Morgan, something we didn’t hear much last season, and got on to the end of Cesc Fabregas’ corner to find the net. In hindsight, this totally changed the game, because if it went into the break at 2-0, Leicester would have won the game.
Instead it was Chelsea who came out for the second half in the ascendancy and equalised within five minutes. Chelsea broke fast, and after the Foxes failed to properly clear, the ball dropped to the most unlikely source to volley home a screamer from 25 yards. Cesar Azpilicueta rarely scores, and he always looks like he’s about to get a nosebleed every time he enters the opposition’s half, but this was a stunning strike, something I doubt we’ll ever see him do again.
From then on, the Blues certainly had the better of the match; Diego Costa came on to the sound of Leicester boos, as at every other Premier League ground. Michy Batshuayi came close with a powerful effort from outside the box that Ron Robert-Zieler had to be at his best to keep out. Costa came close on a couple of occasions, firstly missing the target by just inches when clean through on goal, then denied at least twice by Zieler.
Jamie Vardy entered the field to typical chants of “Jamie Vardy’s having a party”, even though I don’t think he really is this season. Andy King should have put Leicester ahead just seconds later, substitute Leonardo Ulloa’s header presenting him with a simple finish from just yards out, only to head over. Ahmed Musa also tested Begovic, but the Bosnian’s fingertips were enough to push it round the post.
Eden Hazard was another substitute to receive a notable welcome, this time to cheers from the Leicester faithful after his goal against Tottenham last season. That reception was probably better than the one Chelsea fans gave him. The reception that Costa received seemed even less likely to change with the 90 minutes coming to a close when Marcin Wasilewski wiped him out in front of the dugout. It could have been a straight red card, but it was even more ridiculous when on a yellow.
This took us to extra time, despite the best efforts of David Luiz, whose free kick clipped the top of the net from 30 yards out. It didn’t take long for Chelsea to go ahead for the first time within minutes of the restart with a brilliant goal. Eden Hazard cut inside and played a one-two with Diego Costa, before back heeling the ball to Cesc Fabregas, who wrong-footed Wes Morgan with his first touch, and did Zieler with his eyes before firing into the net. It was certainly up there with Azpilicueta’s volley as one of the best goals I’ve seen live.
Chants of “Fabregas Is Magic” were still going on when the Spaniard doubled his tally, this time courtesy of some poor Leicester defending. Zieler and Morgan both failed to clear before the ball dropped to Fabregas again to hammer home from the edge of the six yard box. It terms of how the match went as a contest, that was pretty much it. Chelsea kept the ball for the rest of extra time, and although they made a couple more chances, there was never any need for them to take risks.
The action took place off the pitch more than anything, with a few Leicester fans deciding the best course of action was to throw their clappers at the Chelsea fans. They didn’t even fold them up, it was just bits of paper. One of the younger guys was taken out, to chants of “It’s past your bedtime” and “You’ve got school in the morning”.
That was basically that, with Chelsea winning 4-2 after extra time. It was probably the best atmosphere I’ve had at a football match, and at just £10 for u22s, it was a really good price for the Premier League champions.
Rating out of 10: Great game, great atmosphere, even pretty good food. 9/10