Coventry 0-2 Chelsea: A Day To Remember
Saturday morning, I woke up at 8, bright and early. I knew this was going to a special day.
Coventry City, a team that I had been rooting for all season, was taking on my beloved Chelsea at home in the first FA Cup tie of the day.
After a quick shower, I slowly made my way to our usual meeting point—my cousin's house, which was conveniently round the corner from me.
I was the last one to turn up. Puzzled, I asked what time everybody else arrived since it was still only 08.30 am.
To my surprise, they had been there throughout the night. I clearly remember, leaving them to go home at 11.15 the previous night. We had been playing FIFA '09 and apparently everybody else stayed and played on through the night.
Kick off at Ricoh Arena was 12.30, and since Coventry is only a 20 minute drive from Birmingham, it meant we still had some time to relax and keep playing FIFA.
At 11.30, we started to make our way down to Coventry. Since none of us drink, I thought we had time to zip past the Uni and drop in an overdue assignment.
Just about made it in time, as they close up the office at 12 o'clock.
Now, that was out of the way, we went straight to the ground.
Just as we were pulling up the Tesco car park, I was amazed at what I saw. Never had I seen such a huge police presence at Ricoh Arena.
The last time, that I saw anything close to this, was last season's home game against Leicester—a game Coventry incidentally won 2-0.
The noise level was extremely high and there was a certain buzz around the ground, which wasn't surprising given that the glamorous Chelsea were the visitors.
Ricoh Arena was sold out for the first time in its history. All of the 31,407 tickets were snapped up, moments after they knocked out Blackburn in the previous round.
Just before kickoff, news that Essien and Carvalho were on the bench brought about loud cheers and set the tone for the day.
Chelsea started the game really relaxed and comfortable. Patience built up, which has been a feature of Chelsea's play this season, was frustrating their Championship opponents.
It didn't take long before the chance of the game came our way and not surprisingly, it fell to the in-form Drogba.
A long hoof of the park by Cech was controlled well by the Ivorian, and he rolled Turner all too easily before putting the shot just wide.
A touch of class and surely a sign of things to come and with 15 minutes gone, Chelsea took the lead through none other than Drogba.
Coventry skipper Scott Dann allowed himself to be robbed by Drogba who went on to round the keeper and produce a superb finish from a tight angle.
Chelsea continued to dominate the rest of the half but with no real clear-cut chances. Coventry, on the other hand, offered practically nothing going forward. Although, it wasn't through lack of trying.
Leon Best, Clinton Morrison, and especially Freddy Eastwood tried their best, but it just wasn't enough.
Half time brought one change. Quaresma replaced Kalou, which everybody around me found odd. Malouda, who hardly had a touch in the first half, kept his place, while Kalou who was in the heart of everything that Chelsea was doing was taken off.
An odd decision indeed, nevertheless Quaresma continued where he left off at Portsmouth. His first touch was a lovely cross that Drogba nearly managed to turn in.
Then came the big moment that we all were waiting for—the return of a hero. Michael Essien stepped up to replace Mikel.
The cheers and applause were deafening.
Essien rose to the occasion, as he immediately got involved in a few neat interchanges with Lampard and Ballack. Every touch brought out loud cheers.
Essien was back!
Coventry though, never lost hope and with the score still 1-0, they had no reason to. Their main source of threat was the long throw—Gunnarsson's Delap-like long throws but with a unique touch caused some nervy moments for the Chelsea defence.
On 72 minutes though, Chelsea put the tie beyond doubt. After a Coventry set piece, Chelsea broke away at devastating speed.
Essien came away with the ball, with Lampard, Drogba, Quaresma all running beside him. He passed the ball to Drogba, who in turn sent Quaresma away. Quaresma had time and space to pick his cross, which he did in superb style.
His cross found Alex, who had all the time in the world to find the net. Fantastic goal and the Jewson stand erupted.
The game continued in the same fashion, but once that second goal went in, the result was never in doubt.
Credit goes to Coventry, who never gave up fighting for the ball but in Chelsea's quality, shone through.
The final whistle brought mixed feelings. Delighted that Chelsea reached the semifinals but sad to see Coventry go out.
Having been to almost every single home game this season and last, I have a strange attachment to the club and its fans.
I remember last season when Coventry got knocked out by West Brom. They were taught a very tough footballing lesson in smooth and offensive football that day. The final score was Coventry 0-5 West Brom. Everybody went home in silence..
My mate, who is a Leicester fanatic could not hide his joy at seeing them lose. "Covscum" is how he refers to Coventry City.
In the end, a great day had just begun in the most perfect way. Chelsea won 2-0, in a truly professional performance.
Didier Drogba seems to be finding his old form and Essien is back. The team is not conceding any goals and is gathering pace just at the right time.
Bring on Juventus on Tuesday.. I predict a 2-1 win in Chelsea's favour and a brace from the in-form Drogba.
Now, I'm going to sit back and hope for a Fulham win.
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