There had been a gnawing anxiety in me before the match, which for a change was nothing to do with the potential result. Given that we’d beaten both Tottenham in an FA Cup semi final and Barcelona in the first leg of a Champions League semi final in the past 6 days, I was not expecting a stellar performance from the exhausted boys in Blue.
The game against Barca had taken a huge toll, requiring a massive effort of concentration and focus (and the players had a pretty hard time too!), but both myself and the team did very well.
Yes it had been an ugly Chelsea performance to watch, but beating Barcelona has nothing to do with football. The challenge they represent goes way beyond any other encounter in the world of soccer, given that each opponent knows Barca will have at least 75% possession at all times.
They’re just too good to beat at their own game, so despite the slagging targeted at Chelsea for their negative methods, there’s no doubt we delivered a perfectly pragmatic performance. Maybe we’ll do it again in the second leg at their home ground, the Camp Nou on Tuesday, or maybe Barca will put three past us. That’s the glory of the game, and I’m just delighted that somehow our season has finished with us playing at this level.
So no, football wasn’t the reason I was tense. Life has been demanding of late and constantly interrupted by unsolicited and sometimes unwelcome arrivals, and sure enough, 10 minutes into the game, there came a thumping on the front door.
My landlady had arrived with a lawn mower for the house, but it wouldn't start and as her husband and I stood in the rain and fiddled with HT leads and rusty cables I wondered how my team were doing.
Thanks to the wonders of technology I had paused the TV so when I sat back in my chair, the remains of the first half were stored in the digibox.
Rather than miss out on the excitement of watching the game live, I set the fast forward at x2 speed, so that I’d catch up with the action before the start of the second half.
The players flew around, but despite the double quick time I could follow the game perfectly, spotting trends and styles that might have eluded me at normal speed. We were soaking up the Arsenal pressure very well, taking the ball off them outside our box and then making attack after attack, flying down the wings.
We looked great, positive and sharp. We looked like we wanted to go forward all the time and win the game. All things considered, we were performing at least as well as Manchester United have been of late.
Perky, positive and oh.
It’s on double speed.
We look like Man U when we’re playing twice as fast as we actually do.
The second half looked slow and pedestrian in comparison.
A sad moment in the life of Chelsea fan.