Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1

Aggregate: 4-1

Back amongst the Chelsea youth, three months on from our shared adventure in Como. More local and familiar surroundings on this occasion, Stamford Bridge on a beautiful Friday evening in Spring, and, as has become the Chelsea way, progression into another final. 

They will play Norwich City in the customary double header to determine who is the best young side in England, just weeks after their bid to become the best young side in Europe came up against an immovable obstacle in Aston Villa.

And, for as good as Norwich undoubtedly are, Chelsea will enter the final as favourites, a fact underlined by this dismantling of Liverpool in the semi-final, second leg. This was a much more comfortable evening than the 2-1 scoreline, and the early Liverpool goal, suggest. 

Having recovered from that excellent early Kristoffer Peterson goal, which gave Liverpool renewed hope having lost the home leg 2-0, to lead by half-time, Chelsea gave an exhibition of their direct attacking style after the break and could have easily notched a few more. 

I’ve talked and written endlessly about how Lewis Baker, Alex Kiwomya and Jeremie Boga are destined to make the big time, but I’ve never considered John Swift. Until now. He ran the midfield tirelessly, pinging from box to box and, when his opportunity came along, finished a sweeping move of his own creation. 

When he side-footed home the equaliser on 40 minutes, converting Kiwomya’s cross after the winger had screeched down the right wing, it was reminiscent of a certain Frank Lampard. It wasn’t lost on me in my copy or in Chelsea coach Adi Viveash post-match that his accomplished finish was directly underneath the blue banner that reads “Super Frankie Lampard.” How appropriate. 

Six minutes later and Nathan Ake, the dreadlocked defender who make only occasional appearances for the Under 18s when he can spare the time from first team and reserve duties, arrived unnoticed to head in from Boga’s cross and there was no way back for Liverpool.

A fairly standard day at work had been interspersed with phone calls trying to arrange flat viewings. Basically, I have to move out of my current abode, which is quite spacious and well-located, because the landlords have decided to renovate everything from June. 

Initially, I was pleased. Having wanted to move at some point at the back end of the summer anyway, it kicked my arse into gear, but finding somewhere new in London is a colossal ball ache. It’s not like back home when property negotiations are drawn out for weeks, with offer and counter-offer. You find a flat you like the look of online, only to discover that within an hour its been snapped up. 

And when you do manage to get there before the property hunting masses, it’s a absolute shithole. Like the place I viewed in Paddington before heading to Stamford Bridge, whose front door was obstructed by scaffolding, whose staircase was strewn with black rubbish bags and the actual room on offer is the size of a phone box and the bathroom is shared with about 45 others.

I made my apologies quickly to the estate agent and went off to meet my old university pal Zarif at Stamford Bridge. He works for the Hayters agency and was on this occasion supplying words to the FA website. Having actually been in the ground’s press box before, he was handily placed to show me around too. 

On this occasion, Chelsea seemed to have meshed the press and hospitality together. At first, I thought there was some unexplained mass media interest in this game, but it turned out the press room was full of fans, taking up space and munching on the complimentary grub. Many of them actually sat in the press seats too, taking advantage of the mini video screens showing the club’s TV channel and the good view. 

In truth, the collective number of media was me and Zarif, the web team from Chelsea and a chap from Reuters, so hopefully my online match report was therefore read by millions. I’m sure it was...

Next Match: Last away day of the season with Boston United - at Histon