Goalscorers: Hermann Hreidarsson 1, John Terry 10, Matt Holland 35, Jonatan Johansson 48, Jason Euell 53, Eidur Gudjohnsen 73
Charlton Athletic: Dean Kiely, Jonathan Fortune, Hermann Hreidarsson, Chris Perry, Radostin Kishishev, Matt Holland, Scott Parker, Graham Stuart (Chris Powell 77), Paolo Di Canio (Paul Konchesky 87), Jason Euell, Jonatan Johansson
Chelsea: Carlo Cudicini, Marcel Desailly, John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Glen Johnson, Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard (Geremi 66), Joe Cole (William Gallas 82), Jesper Gronkjaer (Eidur Gudjohnsen 46), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Adrian Mutu
Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 26,752
Having spent big following Roman Abramovich’s summer takeover, Chelsea were now a major player in the Premier League and considered among the favourites for the title in the 2003-2004 season. The Blues entered the festive period in third place, having lost just twice all campaign and within striking distance of Manchester United and Arsenal in the table.
On Boxing Day, the Blues made the short trip across the capital to The Valley to face Charlton Athletic, who were enjoying a great season too and were challenging for a top four position. Alan Curbishley’s men were fifth in the table and above the likes of Liverpool FC and Newcastle United. They also had a good record against Chelsea, having beaten them four times in their last six outings.
The Addicks pounced on some sloppy defending within the first minute, exploiting a weakness at a Chelsea set-piece. Paolo Di Canio’s corner was whipped into the box and was met by the head of Icelandic defender, Hermann Hreidarsson. Hreidarsson’s header flew past a stranded Carlo Cudicini and the home side had the dream start, going into the lead after just 42 seconds.
Their lead lasted for just nine minutes. Adrian Mutu guided in a perfect free-kick delivery and it only required a glancing touch from John Terry which was good enough to defeat Dean Kiely. Chelsea had parity and immediately quietened the home support. Charlton though were unfazed and Scott Parker was putting in a brilliant performance, controlling the central midfield battle with calmness and assurance. Both Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele struggled to gain any momentum and it was Parker who helped start the move for Charlton’s second goal. He and Di Canio combined to set-up Jonatan Johannsson. He drove a cross into the box and Matt Holland climbed above Marcel Desailly to restore Charlton’s lead.
Claudio Ranieri tried to change things at half-time, bringing on a third striker in Eidur Gudjohnsen to replace the ineffective Jesper Gronkjaer. It made no difference and within the first eight minutes of the second half, Charlton had stormed into a 4-1 lead. Di Canio bamboozled Terry with some clever skill and squared the ball for Johansson to score one of the simpler goals of his career on 48 minutes. Five minutes later, Jason Euell took full advantage of a horrid attempt at a defensive clearance by Wayne Bridge before poking the ball past a stunned Cudicini.
Gudjohnsen added some respectability onto the scoreline on 73 minutes but it was barely a consolation for the travelling support that saw their side lose once again on one of their bogey grounds. Charlton would finish the season in seventh place and Parker’s meticulous display saw him eventually leave The Valley for Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window.