Enjoy the latest contribution from life long Chelsea supporter, and honorary Chelsea in America member, Chris Axon. To read his full account, visit his blog here.
Back to 2020, I made it inside the stadium – no more than fifteen yards away from my seat in May, but behind the corner flag this time – with about fifteen minutes to go.
I approached Alan and Gary.
“Alright lads? Been a tough week.”
For not only had the Chelsea family lost Dale Jasper on Friday, we also lost Chris Vassallo on Wednesday. I only knew Chris over the past five years; I seem to remember chatting to him in Tel Aviv in 2015 for the very first time. But every time we brushed past each other, he would offer his hand and say “alright, Chris” and I would do the same. He seemed a lovely bloke. Always there. As kick-off approached, I looked hard to see if I could spot his close friends Ali and Nick. I spotted them, quite a few rows back, and patted my chest.
The teams arrived.
I took a photo and posted it on “Facebook.”
“Remembering Chris and Dale. Let’s go to work, Chelsea.”
The big news was that Kepa was no longer our ‘keeper. In came Willy Caballero. I was quite surprised that Tammy Abraham had been declared to be match-fit. Pedro retained his place ahead of Willian. Another slight surprise.
James – Rudiger – Christensen – Azpilicueta
Kante – Mount
Pedo – Abraham – Hudson-Odoi
What a fine first-half. In fact, very soon into it, I commented to Alan “much better than last season’s game” which was truly, truly horrific.
The low winter sun was causing Kasper Schmeichel a few problems as Chelsea dominated the game from the off. We passed well, and used the flanks.
The away crowd were right in to the game from the off, with plenty of noise booming around the north-east corner. There was the usual expected “bants” between both sets of fans, though the geezer in the adjacent Leicester section with the drum needed to be constantly reminded of his “hobbies”.
Frustratingly, there was an “air shot” from Callum Hudson-Odoi and this drew moans and groans from all. This seemed to affect his confidence a little, and his play was a little within himself. A cross from our left from Dave then just evaded Tammy Abraham. More groans. But then, lovely, an immediate chant of support.
“Oh Tammy Tammy. Tammy, Tammy, Tammy Abraham.”
Despite Callum’s troubles on our right, Reece James took up the gauntlet. He was soon attacking at will down that flank after being released by various team mates. One sumptuous cross into the danger area was just perfection but Tammy read it slightly late.
A ball was played in, by Pedro I think, and Tammy twisted inside the box. There was a slight hint of a trip. He was certainly sprawled on the turf.
After a while, the Chelsea crowd – not Alan, not Gary, not me, not Parky – screamed.
“VAR. VAR. VAR. VAR.”
Give me strength.
After the usual lengthy delay, the call did not go our way.
The Chelsea crowd changed their tune.
“FUCK VAR. FUCK VAR. FUCK VAR. FUCK VAR. FUCK VAR.”
Alan looked at me and I looked at Alan.
“They can’t have it both ways, Al.”
“Fuck me, how do these morons find their way to work in the mornings?”
I can only hope that these people, if they voted on the European Union referendum in 2016, voted with a little more conviction and a little less fickleness than with which they now vote for VAR.
Midway through the half, the Chelsea noise diminished slightly, there was a classic Leicester City chance for Jamie Vardy but Caballero saved brilliantly well. It was their sole chance thus far. Pedro was involved often in this period, and one halting run ended up with a subtle lob towards goal, but Schmeichel back-peddled well and tipped over. Callum was trying to get into the groove. But one step forward, two steps back. The diagonal from Rudiger, and from others, to Reece and Callum was a common occurrence.
There was a hint of rain, but mainly the sun shone.
We kept driving at the Leicester defence. Reece James was solid, he had focus, and he was our finest player of the half. Another cross from Reece, right on the money, and another whisker away from Tammy. A rushed shot from Callum ballooned over the bar. More groans.
But the home team were now coming into the game. Efforts from them caused a little worry for our defence.
There was a classic chance for Vardy just before the break.
“Here we go.”
Amazingly, he fluffed his lines.
Enjoy his entire blog (much more prior to this portion on the trip to Leicester and much more following this segment) at his web page here. You'll learn a lot.