Tag Archives: Chelsea

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 4-2 Watford (October 2017)

Goalscorers: Pedro 12, Abdoulaye Doucoure 45, Roberto Pereyra 49, Michy Batshuayi 71, 90, Cesar Azpilicueta 87

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso (Willian 68), Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Pedro (Davide Zappacosta 86), Alvaro Morata (Michy Batshuayi 61)

Watford: Heurelho Gomes, Miguel Britos, Christian Kabasele, Adrian Mariappa (Andre Gray 90), Kiko Femenia, Jose Holebas, Tom Cleverley, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Roberto Pereyra (Andre Carrillo 65), Richarlison, Troy Deeney (Ben Watson 80)

Referee: Jon Moss, Attendance: 41,467

By mid-October 2017, defending champions Chelsea were already off the pace being set by league leaders Manchester City. Antonio Conte’s men were nine points adrift and went into this match against Watford below their opponents in the table. Marco Silva’s side had just beaten Arsenal a week earlier and arrived at Stamford Bridge in confident mood. They were unbeaten on their travels, with 10 points collected from four away games. If it hadn’t been for a couple of vital substitutions and wasteful finishing, they could well have added to their total in an end-to-end contest.

Having lost their last two league matches to Manchester City and Crystal Palace, the pressure was on Chelsea to revive their fortunes and they made a brilliant start. Pedro opened the scoring after just 12 minutes, bending in a magnificent strike from 25-yards out that struck the post on its way past the helpless Heurelho Gomes. However, the defensive backline which had been so strong in their title-winning season was being opened up much easier in this campaign.

Right on the stroke of half-time, Watford equalised. Abdoulaye Doucoure smashed a shot into the back of the net after David Luiz failed to get enough distance on his clearing header from a long throw-in. It kept Doucoure’s impressive record up of 100% accuracy from shots on-target. His four shots on-target had registered four goals so far in the season for the impressive midfielder.

Another of Watford’s early season stars had been the Brazilian, Richarlison. However, he was guilty of two costly misses in the early moments of the second half. First, he inexplicably missed an open goal from six-yards out after Kiko Femenia had provided the perfect delivery into the box. Richarlison did make amends just over a minute later, when he picked out an unmarked Roberto Pereyra who guided the ball past Thibaut Courtois to give the Hertfordshire-based side a richly deserved lead. However, they should have put the game beyond the home side and again, it was Richarlison who missed another golden chance. He headed wide unmarked after a fine ball from Miguel Britos.

Conte sensed the momentum was with Watford, so threw on Michy Batshuayi and it was a substitution that paid off. With 19 minutes left, Watford’s centre-backs left him completely unmarked to place a looping header into the net from Eden Hazard’s delivery on the right-hand side. Silva then elected to take off his skipper Troy Deeney with 10 minutes remaining and brought on another central midfielder in Ben Watson in an attempt to shut down Chelsea’s threat. This gamble backfired.

With three minutes left, Cesar Azpilicueta arrived unmarked at the back post to nod a header past Gomes. With almost the last kick of the game, Britos was caught in possession by Tiemoue Bakayoko. His interception found Batshuayi who held off the attentions of Christian Kabasele and scored again to close down the match. Chelsea had shown the resilience of champions but Watford did get their revenge, recording a brilliant 4-1 home victory over the Blues in February 2018.

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Shock Results: Chelsea 2-3 Burnley (August 2017)

Goalscorers: Sam Vokes 24, 43, Stephen Ward 39, Alvaro Morata 69, David Luiz 88

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Gary Cahill (SENT OFF), David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas (SENT OFF), Jerome Boga (Andreas Christensen 18), (Charly Musonda 90), Willian, Michy Batshuayi (Alvaro Morata 59)

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Ben Mee, Matthew Lowton, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Jack Cork, Steven Defour (Jon Walters 75), Jeff Hendrick, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Sam Vokes

Referee: Craig Pawson, Attendance: 41,616

Reigning champions Chelsea were once again expected to be among the frontrunners for the Premier League title in 2017-2018. On the opening weekend of the season, Antonio Conte’s side faced Burnley, who were starting their fourth Premier League campaign. On their three previous visits to Stamford Bridge, the Clarets had conceded seven goals. So, they were considered major outsiders.

However, the champions imploded in a spectacular first 45 minutes which was to be the story of their season. The first sign of trouble for the hosts came after just 14 minutes when referee Craig Pawson dished out a straight red card to Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill. Cahill, who had taken on the role on a full-time basis following John Terry’s summer departure, made a lunging two-footed tackle on Burnley midfielder Steven Defour. It was classed as dangerous play by Pawson and Cahill could have few complaints. This meant Jerome Boga’s shock debut was over too, sacrificed to make way for defensive centre-back Andreas Christensen.

Nine minutes later, Burnley fully capitalised on the extra man advantage as Sam Vokes fired the visitors ahead with a volley beyond Thibaut Courtois. It would get worse for a stunned home faithful. Six minutes before half-time, Burnley put together a brilliant team move which led to their second goal. It was left-back Stephen Ward who finished the move off, firing an angled drive beyond Courtois’ despairing dive. Incredibly, it was 3-0 just four minutes later. A flying header from Vokes continued his red-hot streak and put Burnley fans into dreamland. The Welshman had now scored seven goals in his last six Premier League matches dating back to the end of the previous season. The scoreline was even more spectacular considering Burnley had won just one away match in the whole of the previous campaign and that had been at the end of April at Crystal Palace.

Conte looked a pale shadow of the energetic character Chelsea fans had seen on the touchline during his debut Premier League season and he urgently needed a reaction from his misfiring players in the second half. The belated arrival of Alvaro Morata in the 59th minute was the galvanising factor in their second half improvement. 10 minutes after his arrival, the Spaniard, who had joined from Real Madrid, had his first goal for his new employers, heading home from close-range.

Any hopes of Chelsea salvaging something from the contest were as good as over when Cesc Fabregas added to Conte’s headaches. Booked needlessly for dissent in the first half, the Spaniard’s clumsy challenge on Jack Cork with nine minutes left to play saw him heading for an early shower and reduced Chelsea to nine men.

David Luiz did pull another goal back just before stoppage-time but it was too little, too late. Burnley held on for a famous victory. Sean Dyche’s side were one of the success stories of the season and will be playing in UEFA Europa League qualifying later this week as a reward for their seventh-place finish. Chelsea’s fifth-place league result was very disappointing and Conte was sacked in July 2018.

Shock Results: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea (October 2017)

Goalscorers: Cesar Azpilicueta 11 OG, Tiemoue Bakayoko 18, Wilfried Zaha 45

Teams:

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt, Joel Ward, Yohan Cabaye (Jairo Riedwald 86), Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur (Timothy Fosu-Mensah 85), Jeff Schlupp (Jason Puncheon 75), Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Victor Moses (Davide Zappacosta 39), Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Willian (Charly Musonda 65), Michy Batshuayi (Pedro 57)

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 25,480

Crystal Palace looked in dire straits at the start of October 2017. Seven games into their campaign and the Eagles had made the worst start ever in Premier League history. Seven defeats, no points earned and not even a goal scored. Their situation seemed hopeless already. Frank de Boer had been sacked just four games into his reign, replaced by Roy Hodgson. Hodgson had a reputation to repair himself. He had been out of work since England’s humiliating exit in the 2016 European Championships at the hands of Iceland. The chance to revive Palace’s fortunes and put himself back on the managerial map was too good to turn down.

After the October international break, Selhurst Park was packed to welcome the visit of league champions Chelsea. Antonio Conte’s side had recovered well from a shock opening day loss at home to Burnley and were boasting a 100% away record following fine victories away at Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Stoke City. The Blues were widely anticipated to keep that record going.

After 641 goalless minutes at the start of the season, Crystal Palace finally registered a goal to take a surprising early lead. Andros Townsend picked out Yohan Cabaye who showed great persistence in the penalty area, causing havoc which Chelsea’s defenders couldn’t deal with. David Luiz panicked and the ball eventually came off his teammate Cesar Azpilicueta and rebounded into the back of the net. It set the tone for an uncomfortable afternoon for the reigning champions.

Conte’s side were missing the energy of N’Golo Kante, who had been injured playing for France during the international break and it showed. However, his replacement did provide the equaliser. Tiemoue Bakayoko escaped his markers to guide home a corner from his central midfield partner, Cesc Fabregas. However, Chelsea’s front three of Michy Batshuayi, Willian and Eden Hazard failed to seriously test Julian Speroni on a regular basis.

It was another Palace returnee who would ultimately score the winner. Wilfried Zaha had been out of action since the opening day of the season but he returned with perfect timing. On the stroke of half-time, he escaped Azpilicueta’s challenge and slotted the ball beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Despite enjoying 60% of possession and piling the pressure on in the second half, Conte’s side couldn’t find a way through. He experienced back-to-back defeats for only the second time as a Premier League manager. Palace were finally off the mark for both goals and points. Their season finally had lift-off, thanks to the management guile of Hodgson and the skill of Zaha, who proved to be their integral matchwinner throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Iconic Moments: Zola arrives in England (November 1996)

In the summer of 1996, the foreign revolution was starting to arrive in English football. This was none more apparent than at Chelsea where new manager Ruud Gullit was beginning to make his mark by signing players from the continent.

Italians Roberto Di Matteo and Gianluca Vialli had already arrived and a third Italian player would join the Londoners before 1996 was over. £4.5 million was paid to Parma for the small, but technically gifted Gianfranco Zola to arrive at Stamford Bridge.

Zola was a lynchpin of the Italian national side but had become frustrated at being forced to play in a deep-lying role for Parma in Serie A. Wanting to access a new challenge; there was just as much attention from the Italian press than from the English media when he was introduced as a Chelsea player.

He made his debut in a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park with Blackburn Rovers days later and made an incredible impact. Having been in the country for only seven months, he had won over the supporters, the neutrals and the football journalists, who crowned him the Football Writers’ Player of the Year for the season.

 

 

Zola left Chelsea in the summer of 2003, just a week before Roman Abramovich’s takeover of the club. He left after seven seasons of enthralling skills, exceptional goals and a set-piece expertise that was among the best in world football. His final gift was to help the Blues into the Champions League that helped Abramovich towards his takeover that turned the club into one of Europe’s real superpowers.

 

 

Great Goals: Gianfranco Zola – CHELSEA vs. Manchester United (February 1997)

When Gianfranco Zola joined Chelsea from Parma in November 1996, there was as much attention on the transfer from the Italian media as there was from the English press. By the time he left Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2003, he had become one of the club’s greatest-ever players. This was an early sign of his dazzling brilliance against reigning champions Manchester United.

Played in by Dan Petrescu, it looked like Zola was going up a corridor with little options. He had other ideas. He took advantage of Denis Irwin committing himself by cutting inside his tackle. Gary Pallister was beaten by his skill and Peter Schmeichel was beaten at his near post by this tricky, majestic Italian.

It gave Chelsea the lead and although Manchester United did leave the capital with a point by the end of the afternoon, they certainly now knew who Gianfranco Zola really was. He also scored a winner in February 1997 for his country at Wembley Stadium against England and despite arriving four months into the campaign, was voted the Player of the Year by the Football Writers.

 

Seasonal Records: 2010-2011

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2010-2011 Premier League campaign. Manchester United made history by becoming the most successful club in English top-flight history, achieving their 19th championship.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 23 11 4 78 37 +41 80
2 Chelsea 38 21 8 9 69 33 +36 71
3 Manchester City 38 21 8 9 60 33 +27 71
4 Arsenal 38 19 11 8 72 43 +29 68
5 Tottenham Hotspur 38 16 14 8 55 46 +9 62
6 Liverpool FC 38 17 7 14 59 44 +15 58
7 Everton 38 13 15 10 51 45 +6 54
8 Fulham 38 11 16 11 49 43 +6 49
9 Aston Villa 38 12 12 14 48 59 -11 48
10 Sunderland 38 12 11 15 45 56 -11 47
11 West Bromwich Albion 38 12 11 15 56 71 -15 47
12 Newcastle United 38 11 13 14 56 57 -1 46
13 Stoke City 38 13 7 18 46 48 -2 46
14 Bolton Wanderers 38 12 10 16 52 56 -4 46
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 11 10 17 46 59 -13 43
16 Wigan Athletic 38 9 15 14 40 61 -21 42
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 11 7 20 46 66 -20 40
18 Birmingham City 38 8 15 15 37 58 -21 39
19 Blackpool 38 10 9 19 55 78 -23 39
20 West Ham United 38 7 12 19 43 70 -27 33

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1063
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester City (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Europa League)

Fulham (UEFA Europa League)

Stoke City (UEFA Europa League)

Birmingham City (UEFA Europa League)

Longest winning run 5 games (Chelsea)
Longest unbeaten run 24 games (Manchester United)
Longest winless run 10 games (Blackburn Rovers)
Longest losing run 5 games (West Bromwich Albion, Bolton Wanderers, Blackpool & West Ham United)
Highest attendance 75,486 (Manchester United vs. Bolton Wanderers)
Lowest attendance 14,042 (Wigan Athletic vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
PFA Young Player of the Year Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Football Writers’ Award Scott Parker (West Ham United)
PFA Team of the Year Edwin van der Sar, Ashley Cole, Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, Nemanja Vidic, Jack Wilshere, Nani, Samir Nasri, Gareth Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez
Manager of the Year Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Premier League Goal of the Season Wayne Rooney (MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Manchester City)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Didier Drogba Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion 6-0 14th August 2010
Theo Walcott Arsenal vs. Blackpool 6-0 21st August 2010
Andy Carroll Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa 6-0 22nd August 2010
Dimitar Berbatov Manchester United vs. Liverpool FC 3-2 19th September 2010
Kevin Nolan Newcastle United vs. Sunderland 5-1 31st October 2010
Dimitar Berbatov (5) Manchester United vs. Blackburn Rovers 7-1 27th November 2010
Mario Balotelli Manchester City vs. Aston Villa 4-0 28th December 2010
Leon Best Newcastle United vs. West Ham United 5-0 5th January 2011
Dimitar Berbatov Manchester United vs. Birmingham City 5-0 22nd January 2011
Robin van Persie Arsenal vs. Wigan Athletic 3-0 22nd January 2011
Carlos Tevez Manchester City vs. West Bromwich Albion 3-0 5th February 2011
Louis Saha (4) Everton vs. Blackpool 5-3 5th February 2011
Dirk Kuyt Liverpool FC vs. Manchester United 3-1 6th March 2011
Wayne Rooney West Ham United vs. Manchester United 4-2 2nd April 2011
Maxi Rodriguez Liverpool FC vs. Birmingham City 5-0 23rd April 2011
Maxi Rodriguez Fulham vs. Liverpool FC 5-2 9th May 2011
Somen Tchoyi Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion 3-3 22nd May 2011

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1= Dimitar Berbatov Manchester United 20
1= Carlos Tevez Manchester City 20
3 Robin van Persie Arsenal 18
4 Darren Bent Sunderland & Aston Villa 17
5 Peter Odemwingie West Bromwich Albion 15
6= Javier Hernandez Manchester United 13
6= Florent Malouda Chelsea 13
6= Rafael van der Vaart Tottenham Hotspur 13
6= Dirk Kuyt Liverpool FC 13
6= Andy Carroll Newcastle United & Liverpool FC 13
6= DJ Campbell Blackpool 13
12= Clint Dempsey Fulham 12
12= Kevin Nolan Newcastle United 12
12= Charlie Adam Blackpool 12
15= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 11
15= Didier Drogba Chelsea 11
17= Frank Lampard Chelsea 10
17= Samir Nasri Arsenal 10
17= Roman Pavlyuchenko Tottenham Hotspur 10
17= Salomon Kalou Chelsea 10
17= Fernando Torres Liverpool FC & Chelsea 10
17= Asamoah Gyan Sunderland 10
17= Johan Elmander Bolton Wanderers 10
17= Maxi Rodriguez Liverpool FC 10
17= Steven Fletcher Wolverhampton Wanderers 10

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn Rovers 27th November 2010
Chelsea 6-0 West Bromwich Albion 14th August 2010
Wigan Athletic 0-6 Chelsea 21st August 2010
Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool 21st August 2010
Newcastle United 6-0 Aston Villa 22nd August 2010
Manchester United 5-0 Birmingham City 22nd January 2011
Manchester City 5-0 Sunderland 3rd April 2011
Liverpool FC 5-0 Birmingham City 23rd April 2011
Newcastle United 5-0 West Ham United 5th January 2011
Newcastle United 5-1 Sunderland 31st October 2010

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn Rovers 27th November 2010
8 Newcastle United 4-4 Arsenal 5th February 2011
8 Everton 5-3 Blackpool 5th February 2011
7 Fulham 2-5 Liverpool FC 9th May 2011
7 Manchester City 4-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15th January 2011
7 Wigan Athletic 4-3 Blackburn Rovers 5th February 2011
7 Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers 14th May 2011
6 Chelsea 6-0 West Bromwich Albion 14th August 2010
6 Wigan Athletic 0-6 Chelsea 21st August 2010
6 Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool 21st August 2010
6 Newcastle United 6-0 Aston Villa 22nd August 2010
6 Newcastle United 5-1 Sunderland 31st October 2010
6 Bolton Wanderers 5-1 Newcastle United 20th November 2010
6 West Ham United 2-4 Manchester United 2nd April 2011
6 Sunderland 2-4 Chelsea 1st February 2011
6 Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal 27th November 2010
6 Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Blackburn Rovers 13th November 2010
6 Sunderland 4-2 Wigan Athletic 23rd April 2011
6 Bolton Wanderers 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur 6th November 2010
6 Manchester United 4-2 Blackpool 22nd May 2011

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Josh McEachran Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea 17 years, 6 months, 27 days 25th September 2010
Jack Robinson Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool FC 17 years, 7 months, 16 days 17th April 2011
Louis Laing Sunderland 1-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 years, 2 months, 8 days 14th May 2011
Abdul Razak Manchester City 3-0 West Bromwich Albion 18 years, 2 months, 25 days 5th February 2011
Jon Flanagan Liverpool FC 3-0 Manchester City 18 years, 3 months, 10 days 11th April 2011
George Thorne Newcastle United 3-3 West Bromwich Albion 18 years, 4 months, 18 days 22nd May 2011
Phil Jones Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Everton 18 years, 5 months, 24 days 14th August 2010
Jack Wilshere Liverpool FC 1-1 Arsenal 18 years, 7 months, 14 days 15th August 2010
Jonjo Shelvey Liverpool FC 2-1 Blackburn Rovers 18 years, 7 months, 27 days 24th October 2010
Chris Wood Liverpool FC 1-0 West Bromwich Albion 18 years, 8 months, 22 days 29th August 2010

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Jens Lehmann Blackpool 1-3 Arsenal 41 years, 5 months 10th April 2011
Edwin van der Sar Manchester United 4-2 Blackpool 40 years, 6 months, 23 days 22nd May 2011
Brad Friedel Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool FC 40 years, 4 days 22nd May 2011
Mike Pollitt Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Wigan Athletic 38 years, 10 months, 7 days 5th January 2011
Mark Schwarzer Fulham 2-2 Arsenal 38 years, 7 months, 16 days 22nd May 2011
Marcus Hahnemann Blackpool 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 38 years, 5 months, 5 days 20th November 2010
Kevin Phillips Birmingham City 0-2 Fulham 37 years, 9 months, 20 days 15th May 2011
Carlo Cudicini Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Birmingham City 37 years, 8 months, 16 days 22nd May 2011
Robert Pires West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Aston Villa 37 years, 6 months, 1 day 30th April 2011
Ryan Giggs Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Manchester United 37 years, 5 months, 15 days 14th May 2011

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Joe Hart Manchester City 18
2 Petr Cech Chelsea 15
3= Edwin van der Sar Manchester United 14
3= Pepe Reina Liverpool FC 14
5 Mark Schwarzer Fulham 11
6= Tim Howard Everton 9
6= Ben Foster Birmingham City 9
8= Simon Mignolet Sunderland 8
8= Asmir Begovic Stoke City 8
8= Paul Robinson Blackburn Rovers 8

Iconic Moments: Fernando’s horrendous miss (September 2011)

Fernando Torres cost Chelsea £50 million on transfer deadline day in January 2011 when he elected to join the Blues from Premier League rivals Liverpool FC. It is fair to say that Chelsea supporters rarely saw the best of the Torres that haunted defenders throughout the world from his Liverpool days.

The lowest point of his Chelsea career came in September 2011 at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Having scored his first goal of the season early in the second half, the Spaniard got the perfect opportunity to double his tally with seven minutes left to play.

Played through by Ramires, Torres beat the offside trap and rounded goalkeeper David de Gea. The goal was gaping infront of him. Somehow, he managed to slice his shot wide into a delighted Stretford End. Cue a serious amount of laughter from United supporters and Liverpool fans who had never quite forgiven Torres for his transfer.

Sky Sports analyst Jamie Redknapp said: “To use a golfing term, it was almost like a yip.”

It remains one of the worst misses we’ve ever seen in the first 25 years of Premier League football.

Premier League Files: Juan Sebastian Veron

Premier League Career: Manchester United (2001-2003), Chelsea (2003-2004)

The British transfer record was broken in the summer of 2001 on two separate occasions by Manchester United. First, they completed the protracted signing of Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV Eindhoven and then they swooped to sign Juan Sebastian Veron from Serie A giants Lazio. Although he won a Premier League title in 2003, Veron largely disappointed in United colours and endured another wretched season in the top-flight at Chelsea before heading back to Italy.

Veron made his professional debut in Argentine football in 1993 and even had a spell playing alongside the country’s national hero, Diego Maradona at Boca Juniors. He made the move into European football in 1996, when future England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson took him to Italian football with Sampdoria.

After making over 60 league appearances for Sampdoria, Parma paid £15 million for him after he sparkled in Argentina’s run to the 1998 World Cup quarter-finals. Parma were a decent team who always gave the leading Italian sides a run for their money but specialised primarily in cup competitions. Veron experienced this in 1998-1999, as Parma won both the UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia.

His stay at Parma lasted just a solitary season. Eriksson was now manager of Lazio and took him to Rome for the 1999-2000 campaign in an £18.1 million deal. He scored eight goals as Lazio achieved the treble of UEFA Super Cup, Coppa Italia and the Serie A title.

Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed and in July 2001, signed Veron for £24.3 million. He scored three early season goals, including the fourth goal at White Hart Lane as Manchester United completed a sensational turnaround from 3-0 down to beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-3. However, he really struggled to adapt to the Premier League as players didn’t allow him the time to dictate proceedings as he could in Italian football.

He saved his best performances at Old Trafford for the UEFA Champions League and scored four goals in the 2002-2003 group stages but league form remained erratic. The highlight of his two seasons in the Premier League was scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory over chief rivals Arsenal in December 2002. Ferguson tried to defend him in the media and even used expletives at times against journalists who picked on his inconsistent performances. Most United fans agreed with the general media consensus though that he was nothing short of an expensive flop.

In 2016, Veron admitted: “Games were intense for 90 minutes. In Italy, it was more tactical and about closing down the games. In England, the games were more open, the ball came back and forward. It was more physical too.”

In the summer of 2003, Chelsea had money to spend following Roman Abramovich’s takeover and Veron was one of the new arrivals, despite having a determination to stay and fight for his place at Old Trafford. He made a brilliant start with the west Londoners and scored the first Premier League goal of the Abramovich era at Anfield in August 2003. Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Liverpool FC set them up for an excellent campaign under Claudio Ranieri which saw them finish runners-up in the Premier League and reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Veron struggled with injuries though and even when fit, couldn’t break into the team on a regular basis. When Jose Mourinho replaced Ranieri as manager in the summer of 2004, Veron was sent packing on-loan back to Italy, joining Inter Milan. He returned to his homeland in 2007, winding down his career in 2014 with Estudiantes where he is now chairman of the club.

Technically gifted and talented, Juan Sebastian Veron won a clutch of honours in his career but his best moments were few and far between in the Premier League.

Premier League Files: Jesper Gronkjaer

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2001-2004), Birmingham City (2004)

A tricky winger who was once the most expensive Danish player in history, Jesper Gronkjaer might have had his detractors during his time with Chelsea but he will go down as having scored one of the most important goals in the club’s proud and distinguished history.

Pace was one of the main characteristics of Gronkjaer’s game and early on in his career; he was told by youth coaches that he could become a sprinter. He stuck with football though and sparkled with his first club, AaB. He scored 10 times in 86 matches for the club and played in the UEFA Champions League before moving to Dutch powerhouses Ajax in July 1998. Coached by Morten Olsen, Jesper won the Dutch Cup in his first full season in Amsterdam and a year later, the fans voted him as the Ajax Player of the Year.

His next calling was English football as Chelsea snapped him up for £7.8 million in October 2000. He arrived in west London with an injury, so didn’t make his first start for the Blues until January 2001, scoring twice in his first full appearance for the club in an FA Cup tie away to Gillingham. It was the first of just 11 goals he’d score in Chelsea colours and at times, some of his form was heavily inconsistent. However, he did have a knack of scoring crucial goals when the Londoners needed them most.

On the final day of the 2002-2003 season, Chelsea played host to Liverpool FC in what was a straight shootout for the final Champions League qualification place. Liverpool had to win to snatch fourth spot and took the lead early on, only for Chelsea to equalise virtually straightaway through their skipper, Marcel Desailly.

Just before the half hour mark, Gronkjaer escaped the attentions of John Arne Riise and bent a curling shot past Jerzy Dudek which sank Liverpool. Chelsea qualified for the Champions League for the first time in four years and it was such an important moment. On the brink of financial meltdown, this made Chelsea attractive to foreign investors. Less than two months later, Roman Abramovich bought the club and life at Stamford Bridge wouldn’t be the same again. Had it not been for Gronkjaer’s goal, the chances are Abramovich would have come into the English game but invested elsewhere.

It was nearly a full year before the flying Dane scored again as he opened the scoring in the UEFA Champions League semi-final, second leg against AS Monaco. It was all in vain though, as the French side prevailed over two legs. Gronkjaer, who had looked short of confidence throughout the 2003-2004 campaign, finished his season in style. He crashed home an effort at Old Trafford in the draw with Manchester United which secured Chelsea’s best finish in the league since 1955. A week later, his diving header beat Leeds United in Claudio Ranieri’s final match in-charge. This also turned out to be Gronkjaer’s final game for Chelsea.

He joined Birmingham City for £2.2 million in July 2004 but never settled and lasted just six months in the Midlands. He transferred to Atletico Madrid before the year was out and after one season in the Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart, returned to his homeland in 2006. He retired professionally in 2011 with FC Copenhagen, winning four Danish league titles.

Great Goals: Jordan Henderson – Chelsea vs. LIVERPOOL FC (September 2016)

Midfielder Jordan Henderson was always going to find it tough replacing the inspirational Steven Gerrard as captain of Liverpool Football Club. However, he has done it his own way and whilst he might not produce the fireworks Gerrard used to serve time and time again, Henderson is a solid and strong presence in the Reds midfield line.

The skipper produced this brilliant goal in September 2016 against Chelsea. From an attacking throw-in, Gary Cahill’s clearance fell straight into Henderson’s path. He took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and had a quick look at his target. He then bent a beautiful curling shot into the top corner of Thibaut Courtois’ goal. It was a marvellous goal and it won Goal of the Month honours for September 2016.

Liverpool FC won 2-1 and were one of only two sides to beat Antonio Conte’s champions-elect at Stamford Bridge during the 2016-2017 season.

Premier League Rewind: 26th December 2004

Results: Arsenal 2-0 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa, Crystal Palace 0-1 Portsmouth, Southampton 0-0 Charlton Athletic, Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Newcastle United, Everton 2-1 Manchester City, Manchester United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers, Norwich City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City 2-0 Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC

The festive period in the Premier League has always been a joyous period for fans and on Boxing Day 2004, the action was as intense as ever.

Chelsea were the league leaders and were looking to protect or even increase their five-point advantage over the defending champions Arsenal. The Blues beat Aston Villa 1-0 on a cold lunchtime afternoon at Stamford Bridge. Damien Duff’s strike after 30 minutes was enough to keep Jose Mourinho’s team clear at the top of the table. Villa had now lost four of their last five outings and slipped into the realms of mid-table after a promising start to the campaign.

Arsenal kept the pressure on, digging in after a tricky November which had seen them drop points against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion and lose at Anfield to Liverpool FC. Thierry Henry opened the scoring in the 12th minute of their 2-0 victory over Fulham and Robert Pires added a second with both goals being set-up by Freddie Ljungberg. Fulham had lost 11 of their 18 league matches and were just four points clear of the relegation zone.

Considered as one of the relegation favourites at the start of the season, Everton had already reached the usual magical safety mark of 40 points when they defeated Manchester City 2-1. Tim Cahill scored for the second time in the season against the Citizens and although Robbie Fowler equalised on his return to Merseyside, Marcus Bent’s 63rd minute strike settled the contest. City’s defeat was confirmed by Christian Negouai’s late red card.

The team with no form whatsoever at this stage in the season were Bolton Wanderers. Since drawing at Stamford Bridge, Bolton went on a six-game losing streak. The fifth of these came at Old Trafford where Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both scored in a 2-0 victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. The only negative on the afternoon for United was Wayne Rooney being caught on-camera striking out at Bolton defender Tal Ben-Haim. Whilst there was a clear overreaction to the contact from the Israeli defender, Rooney was charged with violent conduct and eventually banned for three matches. Ferguson was livid with the charge, even though the club accepted his fate. He said the FA’s disciplinary system was “completely flawed” and “immoral.”

If Ferguson was annoyed, his former skipper, Bryan Robson was having a very tough Christmas. West Bromwich Albion were bottom of the table and had lost their last four games. With just one win all season, Baggies supporters were getting the sense of déjà vu. Relegation was looking likely if you went with history and a 5-0 home battering from Liverpool FC on Boxing Day made the situation even worse. Liverpool had only won once all season away from Anfield but took full advantage of the situation to record their biggest victory since Rafa Benitez became manager. John Arne Riise was the star with two goals and Florent Sinama-Pongolle scored his first Premier League goal in a full calendar year.

What else happened in December 2004?

  • The world is left stunned by the devastating Asian tsunami that strikes coastal areas of Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and the Maldives. This was triggered by an earthquake within the Indian Ocean. Over 200,000 people are killed.
  • After nearly four years in the role, David Blunkett resigns as Home Secretary.
  • £26.5 million is stolen from a Northern Bank in Belfast after one of the biggest robberies in modern day Britain.
  • Double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes is named as the 2004 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • The first series of ‘The X-Factor’ concludes with victory for Steve Brookstein.
  • 194 people are killed after a fire in a nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • France shows off the world’s tallest bridge. The Millau Viaduct is officially opened.

Iconic Moments: Lampard becomes Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer (May 2013)

When Chelsea signed Frank Lampard from London rivals West Ham United in the summer of 2001, they knew they were getting a midfielder who was capable of scoring goals. However, no-one at the time could have imagined the achievements Lampard would go on to make in west London.

He would win three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. One of the Premier League’s greatest ambassadors, Lampard always had a knack of scoring goals from making runs into the penalty area and also trying his luck from distance and often finding the target.

In May 2013, Lampard was approaching the end of his current contract and also closing in on becoming Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer. Against Aston Villa at Villa Park, Lampard equalled the record held by Bobby Tambling with his 202nd goal for the club. Close to full-time, he made another burst into the box and guided in Eden Hazard’s cross to achieve history. He now had 203 goals for Chelsea, becoming their highest goalscorer in the club’s proud and distinguished history.

It won Chelsea the points that afternoon and he signed a new one-year contract a few days later. He left in the summer of 2014, finishing with 211 goals and his name etched firmly in Chelsea’s history.