Cobham Commutes #7: Blues beat Brentford and head to the semi-finals

In this series, I review my in-ground experience throughout the campaign, this time for Brentford away. It’s split into two columns, one for home games and the other for away days. I run through various topics from atmosphere to a game review and give some unique observations directly from stadiums up and down the country.

Journey to the Game: Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium

In a first for this season, and indeed this series, I was visiting a ground other than Stamford Bridge for the second time in the campaign. A little over two months ago I had travelled to South West London for the league match, and now I was back again for a new competition.

This time, however, my journey was simpler with less travel disruption than my previous visit. A simple enough tube journey to Gunnersbury made me feel at times as if I was heading towards a home game. After all, the route led me past Earl’s Court, where a number of away supporters did join the train.

As it was though, I arrived at Gunnersbury and from there it was a fairly short 15 minute walk through Brentford to the stadium. It must be pointed out though, that after the game the station is closed, meaning I had to divert to a different tube station almost half an hour away. Not the greatest public transport system in the world after all.

Stadium Summary

Despite my description back in October, I was still once again surprised at the density of buildings around the ground. Of course, finding space for a modern Premier League stadium in the middle of London isn’t the easiest task, but it does feel rather hemmed in making your way to the entrances.

Regardless, it’s still an extremely new build, having only opened in September of last year, and only housing fans with a full capacity from the start of this season. As such, everything from the steps down to the gates to the pitch itself looks in immaculate condition still.

Moving onto my seat, and again it was slightly different to my first visit, though in such a small away end it felt fairly similar. Either way, the visiting supporters are housed in the North East corner of the stadium, on the opposite side of the pitch to the dugouts.

Rather than being in the ‘lower section’ like last time, I was instead situated further up. While that means you maybe don’t feel quite as close to the action, it does mean you can actually see what’s going on at the other end of the pitch. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

One complaint from quite a few fans was the fact that the allocation for the league game and the cup game was the same. Ordinarily, for a cup match, away fans are given more tickets, but due to the small capacity, the 10% allowed in the Carabao Cup was effectively the same as given in the Premier League. Nevertheless, I was happy with my seat and looking forward to the game.

The view at Brentford
The view at Brentford

Brentford 0-2 Chelsea: Game Review

It was a fairly quiet opening 45 minutes, without a huge amount of chances for other side. That said, it was evidently Chelsea with more possession, though they struggled to do a huge amount with it prior to the half time whistle.

There were brief flashes of potential with runs down the wing from both Marcos Alonso and Xavier Simons (never thought I’d put those two in the same sentence). But, with a lack of accuracy on crosses, it meant it was hard for any clear-cut opportunities to be created.

If anything, it was Brentford with the better moments, prompting Kepa into some good saves from crosses. Regardless, given the team on show, it would’ve been the away side the happier heading back to the dressing rooms at the interval.

Chelsea celebrate against Brentford
Chelsea celebrate against Brentford

The second half started off fairly slowly again, and it seemed like the pattern would repeat itself again. That was until Thomas Tuchel looked to his bench and brought on, with all due respect to the likes of Vale and Simons, the big guns.

Minutes after Mount and James arrived, the right back put a cross in and it cannoned into the Brentford net off of Pontus Jansson. It was finally a reward for all the possession we’d had, even if it did feel as though there was a little slice of luck.

That fortune was put to rest though, when Christian Pulisic was taken out in the box and the Blues were awarded a penalty. Jorginho stepped up and dispatched the spot kick, giving Chelsea a 2-0 lead, which they held onto for the 5 reminding minutes.

Things you don’t see and hear on TV

It was a slightly strange atmosphere – but in no bad way whatsoever – in that there were many chants for players gone by. Songs for Michael Essien, Salomon Kalou and Dennis Wise were heard at various times, which was a nice throwback.

There was a heart-warming, if slightly sad moment, when Vialli’s name was changed by the away fans. The former Blue had revealed that he was battling cancer once again, so the show of support for the Italian was great to hear. Keep fighting, Gianluca.

Moving away from that, there was an amusing song near the end of the first half, if slightly cruel. ‘If Saul scores, we’re on the pitch’ were the lyrics and, ironically enough, it was probably one of the most-passionately sung chants of the night.

There was also a reappearance of the Ross Barkley chant and his, ahem, unfortunate relationship with those from Merseyside. Once again, I can’t not mention the rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ (with a slight Chelsea remix), that was sung before the game too.

However, it would be remiss of me not to get into the festive spirit, given the time of year. That was reflected in the ever-popular ‘Jingle Bells’ cover, sung by many teams up and down the country on away trips near Christmas.

And, in all honesty, while it might not be the most original song (I think I’ve heard it from at least 30 other teams), it is one of the most enjoyable, particularly given the fact it’s been a fairly tough time for Chelsea fans recently.

I said it in my previous post, but given the uncertainty at the moment, we can’t know for sure when we’ll next be going to watch the Blues. And so, the words of that song really do ring true with the current mood – because oh what fun it is to see Chelsea win away.

Bring on Tottenham in the semis.

Written and Edited by Noah Robson (@noahrobson_)

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