Cobham Commutes #19: Chelsea lose to Liverpool to make unwanted history by losing a third straight FA Cup Final

In this series, I review my in-ground experience throughout the campaign, this time for Liverpool at Wembley Stadium. 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: Liverpool at Wembley Stadium

Owing to a combination of the sanctions (still) imposed on the club, I hadn’t written one of these columns for some time. In fact, ironically enough, my most recent game was that of the FA Cup semi final a little under a month ago, against Crystal Palace.

That feels like something of a world away, though in my absence there have still been regular Cobham Commutes, away at Manchester United, Everton and Leeds – all with varying degrees of success. Regardless, as a result of my hiatus, I was excited to be heading back to a game in person, and what a game it was.

I’ve mentioned it previously, but travelling to Wembley can be something of a nightmare. It takes some time from central London on the Jubilee Line, though given the occasion it didn’t feel like quite as much of a drag for this one. I arrived with plenty of time to go before kick-off, and soaked up the atmosphere outside the ground before heading in.

Stadium Summary

Of course, with the Blues having visited Wembley Stadium twice already this season, I have already spoken about the enormity of the ground previously. And yet, walking towards it for this one, there was a new sense – the FA Cup Final, although the competition’s importance may not be what it was, still maintains a unique spot in the English football calendar.

And for such an important spot, there can be no better venue than that of the national stadium. Ok, perhaps atmosphere can become diluted in the cavernous setting, and it might not preserve the historical sense that the Old Wembley had, but it’s still worthy of any final.

Outside Wembley before Chelsea vs Liverpool
Outside Wembley before Chelsea vs Liverpool

Regular readers of this series may recall my previous discontent at the ticketing arrangements for games, particularly at Wembley. While I hate to mention a negative so early on, a similar situation arose for this game too. Much like last time, I purchased Category 2 tickets (though for the inflated price of £115 each), either putting me in the lower tier or, (supposedly), near the front of the upper.

Unfortunately – and I really should have expected this after my previous experiences – I was left disappointed again, as I was placed in Row 26 of the upper tier. Admittedly, it was on the side of the pitch, meaning the view was far from bad, but to have been up high three times this season is a bit of a kick in the teeth.

Still, given the fact this was my first ever FA Cup Final, I wasn’t quite as concerned with my seat position, and instead grateful for the fact I was inside the stadium at all. Overall, for a last seat review of this campaign, I think it sums up the general consensus across the season – not the best, but being there is what counts.

The view from my seat for Chelsea vs Liverpool
The view from my seat for Chelsea vs Liverpool

Chelsea (5) 0-0 (6) Liverpool: Game Review

With Liverpool in their traditional red and Chelsea in their traditional … yellow, the game began, and to a quick pace too. Liverpool nearly had the opener with less than two minutes on the clock, and the Reds dominated possession for the first few minutes.

In all honesty, the defining feature of the first half wasn’t any incredible chances, or indeed any goals but rather stoppages in play. First Thiago Silva went down for some time, followed by Alisson, before Salah followed suit, and had to be replaced by Diogo Jota.

That said, the Blues did have more of the ball as the first half wore on, which itself was converted into a few chances as well. Marcos Alonso had a couple of great opportunities on the left hand side, and there were some ‘almost’ moments too, but in the end the two teams went in goalless at half time.

Mid-game of Chelsea vs Liverpool
Mid-game of Chelsea vs Liverpool

The second half saw Chelsea come out very quickly, and we created multiple chances in a very short space of time, which was encouraging to see. Unfortunately, that good spell subsided fairly quickly and Liverpool got back in control again.

There were a couple of nervy moments too, as Liverpool hit the post twice, and it was clear Blues’ fans were getting nervous. The clock slowly ticked down, and eventually the referee blew his whistle, and we headed for extra time, much to the frustration of many.

Yet, even after another 30 minutes of football, the two teams couldn’t be separated: so for the second time this season, a final between Chelsea and Liverpool was going to penalties. And really, the rest of the game is probably best left unsaid.

Things you don’t see and hear on TV

Before the game began, with it being the FA Cup Final there was no shortage of pre-match events. A DJ, whose name I have absolutely no idea, played some rather odd remixes of the two clubs’ traditional songs, before the national anthem and Abide with Me were sung. A nice touch was the display across the entire pitch displaying the names of each one of the 729 teams who entered the competition this season too.

Onto the match itself, and given the fact there is often lots of condemnation for the amount of tickets given away to sponsors and the likes for the FA Cup Final, I actually wasn’t expecting much in terms of atmosphere. However, my initial subpar presumptions were put to bed almost instantly after the game began.

There was a constant noise from both sets of fans, making for an excellent atmosphere (even with the strange acoustics that Wembley can sometimes produce). Say what you want about the FA Cup – for fans, it is clearly still up there with one of the most prestigious competitions in the sport itself.

As for specific chants, it can be difficult to get anything other than the usual ‘Carefree, wherever you may be,’ in Wembley, but they were sung with good noise at various points. Plus, with some of the people who get a ticket off of sponsors for these sort of games, it’s about the only one they know.

To be completely honest, while there were other observations throughout the game, it barely feels worth pointing them out, given the result today. The pain and anguish of walking out of Wembley losing another final on penalties just isn’t worth discussing too much.

The worst thing, really, is that we got that little bit of false hope in the shootout too, but once more the benefit of hindsight is a fine thing. Let’s just leave it at the fact there were some very angry words screamed by many at full time.

And so ends a remarkable season following Chelsea home and away, up and down the country, recounting every moment right here on these blogs. We’ve had a 6-0 win at Southampton, a dismal loss to Manchester City and a tight win against Luton Town on a cold Wednesday night, along with everything in between.

It’s been a pleasure sharing my experiences this season, and I have the utmost gratitude to everyone that took the time to read even just one line. We’ve had highs, we’ve had lows and some even lower lows, but it’s still the best hobby in the world, without a doubt..

See you next season.

Written and Edited by Noah Robson (@noahrobson_)

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