Thanks to writing sports on LAist for years and years and years, I became more and more of a dispassionate fan of sports teams if a fan at all. Eight months on, I’m getting back into it. Example: Chelsea FC.
I’ve been a fan of them for several years now. With what a great job NBC Sports has done in covering the Premier League, I decided to be a more hardcore fan of the Blues. It damn near killed me today.
With Chelsea travelling to Goodison, I figured it would be a tight first half with Chelsea pulling it out in the end as Everton waned. That’s sort of been the modus operandi for both teams. That was most definitely not how this one played out.
Just 34 seconds in, Diego Costa puts Chelsea on top. And just a couple of minutes later, Branislav Ivanovic made it a 2-0 lead. Hell, Chelsea’s got this match, got the three points and I can focus on which college football games I want to watch. But then Kevin Mirallas scored right before stoppage time in the first half to cut the Chelsea lead in half, and that’s when the anxiety began.
For years, I was dismissive of how irrational fans can be sometimes. Sure games can go back and forth, but it’s not life or death especially in the first three games of a 38-game season. But the second half of this game happened, and I damn near lost it.
This game had the appearance of being a very crucial game because Manchester City had just lost at home 1-0 to Stoke City. Chelsea could put some distance with three points here. As an unbiased observer, that’s ridiculous. It’s only the third game. There’s tons of time for City to make up ground. Chelsea isn’t going to win the league in the first month.
I felt better seeing Eden Hazard’s shot go off Seamus Coleman’s foot for an own-goal in the 67th minute. But two minutes later there was Steven Naismith to make it a one-goal game again. It was almost like I was watching a Kings game.
What was also disconcerting was how much possession Everton had. Chelsea couldn’t get the action out of their end. When Nemanja Matic scored in the 74th minute, yet again I thought Chelsea had the match in hand.
But Everton put Samuel Eto’o in the game, the same Eto’o who had nine league goals for Chelsea last year, and three minutes later he made it a 4-3 game. In a matter of nine minutes it went from a 2-1 game to a 4-3 game.
Matic showed some nifty footwork minutes later dishing the ball to Ramires for yet another two-goal lead in 77th minute. But still it wasn’t easy to watch. My heart was pounding. I could feel brain vessels pulsing and struggling to keep my blood circulating properly. It’s a good thing I have lost some weight this year or else I would be in a gurney heading off to an emergency room as a drooling mess.
I could finally breathe and feel at ease when Costa bookended the game with a 90th minute goal.
This game really had everything. There were some bad calls going both ways. There was some bad blood, of course focused on Costa. Hell, there was Costa deciding to flop after getting carded — this is going to be a fun season by the way. There was a woodwork save.
So I’m sorry. I have relearned what it means to be a fan, to live and die with your team game after game. I damn near died today, but my Blues are at the top of the table for now. That’s all that matters, right?