There have been some good games, some bad games some dull games some dirty games some boring games some but I am struggling to ever think of the perfect games. There have been perfect results but very few perfect performances. To be at the Bridge yesterday was a privilege. We may win nothing this season but what I saw yesterday was one of the most complete performances I have ever seen. As evidenced by the completely impossible task of trying to pick a man of the match.
On the way to the ground my son and I were trying to predict a result. The decision was too close to call. Whilst Everton had not been brilliant this season , they were always a tough opponent and I for one would have been more than happy if we had appointed Koeman in the summer. In addition there is something about a run in football that always makes you think it will end in the next game. Would there be another win, another clean sheet, surely not?
So what did we see? A team brimming with confidence playing wonderful one touch football from the start. The first 15 minutes or so were deceiving. This looked like this was going to be a tough game but then we scored in the 19th minute. There is something beguiling about Hazard at the moment. He struck the ball with such force the sheer surprise of the angle deceived the keeper and we were on our way.
That wonderful buzz that accompanies a great goal was still going round the ground as we broke out and scored a second barely a minute later. A tremendous move which was finished with relish by Alonso. This team believe they can score every time they attack and it looks like it. With barely time to catch our breath another quite stunning move ended with the evangelically reborn Moses striking the post.
We didn’t have long to wait for a third another blinding move led to a corner and comical defending meant the top scorer in the league was unmarked at the far post to crash in a third I do not know about you but when I am watching this carnage I get greedy and want more. Just before half time we nearly had another goal of the season candidate. A quite magical turn from Pedro, the afterburners from Diego but regrettably the finish could not match the approach play.
Half time came and the crowd stood as one. This was the most complete 45 minutes I had seen in ages. Those half times are special. Everyone is grinning and laughing. We’re all best mates then aren’t we?
So surely the points are in the bag and we can’t be better than that , well actually we were but in different ways. Now is the time to say why there was no man of the match. I noticed that every time the ball was played forward to Lukaku, Azpi nipped in before him, Cahill went full pelter for the header and Luiz was mopping up and marshalling. Then we have Matic who many wanted out, even at the beginning of this season and the phenom who is Kante completely swamping the Everton midfield.
At the beginning of the second half with undoubtedly their managers voice ringing in their ears, Everton looked more lively. Every time they got the ball however someone was nicking it off them. Our players are all playing for each other. They point to space where the nearest player should be they run chase and harry. So with the task looking insurmountable we pressed on and we were treated to another amazing goal with interplay between Hazard and Pedro you can only dream about. This left Hazard approaching the area where he unleashed a shot in the bottom corner of the net, a thing of pure joy preceded by umpteen passes.
A lot has been said about Diego this season andhis contribution to the fifth goal was superb. His control turn and run from the halfway line and pass to Hazard were sublime. The shot from Eden was merely parried out into the path of the onrushing Pedro who gleefully scored. Five goals and we were only in the sixty fifth minute!
Whilst there no more goals there was plenty to marvel at. Not least the wonderful sight of one of the backroom staff whispering in our managers ear to tell him the whole ground had been chanting his name for the last five minutes. He acknowledged the love which was pouring from the stands. He called for a similar atmosphere to that at Southampton and with the football on show the Bridge was rocking.
One amongst many wonderful things that were on show was that a five nil up, our players did not stop running. I saw Azpi berate Moses for a misplaced pass, Oscar diving in for a tackle in the ninety second minute followed by a tremendous gallop up the wing by captain leader legend. The side being orchestrated to the end by David Luiz, wonderful stuff.
The game ended and the nutty boys started up. I left knowing I had seen something special. We are always biased when we watch our team play but I like to think I am honest enough to call it like I see it. Whilst not the oracle of all things football, the guys on match of the day said that they had witnessed one of the best performances in the Premier League with Hazard a standout. It is hard to think the utter shamble which was the first forty five minutes at the Emirates was only five league games ago. The work done by Conte his staff and the team has been amazing. The next three games will tell us more but you can bet no one is looking forward to playing us any time soon.
Clayton Beerman @goalie59
Author of “Palpable Discord. A Year of drama and dissent at Chelsea” Published by Gate 17