Tag Archives: Chelsea

Shock Results: Chelsea 2-3 West Ham United (September 2002)

Goalscorers: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 21 PEN, Jermain Defoe 40, Paolo Di Canio 48, 84, Gianfranco Zola 74

Teams:

Chelsea: Carlo Cudicini, William Gallas, Robert Huth, Mario Melchiot, Jody Morris, Frank Lampard, Mario Stanic, Bolo Zenden (Gianfranco Zola 63), Jesper Gronkjaer, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

West Ham United: David James, Gary Breen, Tomas Repka, Sebastian Schemmel, Scott Minto, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steve Lomas, Trevor Sinclair, Paolo Di Canio (Edouard Cisse 87), Freddie Kanoute (Jermain Defoe 4)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 38,929

West Ham United were bottom of the Premier League table when they travelled to Stamford Bridge for a London Derby with Chelsea in September 2002. They hadn’t won in the campaign and desperately needed a lift. By contrast, Chelsea had made a solid start and were one of three sides yet to taste defeat in the campaign. They were strong favourites to increase their run against the Hammers.

It was the visitors who created the first significant chance but Carlo Cudicini was in sharp reflex form to deny Trevor Sinclair. On 21 minutes, referee Mike Dean awarded Chelsea a rather fortunate spot-kick. A push on Robert Huth by former Chelsea defender Scott Minto was given but it looked very harsh. Having been outplayed throughout, the home side were now gifted a lead as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink converted the penalty.

West Ham had been hard done by and Cudicini looked in great form, saving brilliantly from Michael Carrick but the Italian was eventually beaten five minutes before half-time by Jermain Defoe. Once again, the goalkeeper made a great save to keep out Steve Lomas but Defoe reacted quickest to tap home the rebound. It was 1-1 at half-time and no more than what Glenn Roeder’s battlers deserved.

Three minutes into the second half, they were infront. Paolo Di Canio tried his luck from distance and struck an unstoppable left-footed volley that flew into the back of the net. Not even the excellent Cudicini could do anything about this strike. Moments later, Joe Cole thought he’d put West Ham 3-1 ahead but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.

Now behind in the match, this seemed to wake Chelsea up. Hasselbaink’s header hit the post via a crucial fingertip from David James. With 16 minutes left, they were back on level terms. Substitute Gianfranco Zola had only been on the pitch for 11 minutes but he made the difference again. The Italian produced a beautifully curled free-kick into the top corner, giving James no chance.

However, West Ham were full value for their first win of the season and Di Canio was in peak form. From an acute angle, he finished brilliantly with just six minutes remaining, beating Cudicini at his near post. It was a much-needed boost for the supporters and this highly-talented group of players. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough come the end of the season.

Despite beating Chelsea again in their final home match of the season in May and finishing with 40+ points, West Ham were relegated at the end of the season. Chelsea recovered from this particular stumble to secure fourth place, Champions League football and therefore, attracted the interest of a certain Russian billionaire at the end of the season.

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Shock Results: Wigan Athletic 3-1 Chelsea (September 2009)

Goalscorers: Titus Bramble 16, Didier Drogba 47, Hugo Rodallega 53 PEN, Paul Scharner 90

Teams:

Wigan Athletic: Chris Kirkland, Emmerson Boyce, Titus Bramble, Maynor Figueroa, Mario Melchiot, Paul Scharner, Mohamed Diame, Hendry Thomas, Charles N’Zogbia, Hugo Rodallega, Jason Scotland (Marlon King 88)

Chelsea: Petr Cech (SENT OFF), Jose Bosingwa (Salomon Kalou 68), Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Ashley Cole, John Obi Mikel (Juliano Belletti 46), Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda (Hilario 52), Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba

Referee: Phil Dowd, Attendance: 18,542

Carlo Ancelotti had made a business-like start to his career as Chelsea manager. Six straight victories had the Blues top of the table and defending a 100% record. They were anticipated to extend that run when they travelled to The DW Stadium to face Wigan Athletic in September 2009. Since beating Aston Villa on the opening weekend, Roberto Martinez’s side had recorded just further victory and sat dangerously close to the bottom three. This was a real turn-up.

The Latics had never beaten Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool FC since joining the Premier League party in 2005. So, they were looking to create some history here and they took a deserved lead after 15 minutes. Charles N’Zogbia collected the ball from a short corner and delivered an inch-perfect cross. Titus Bramble took advantage of a Chelsea backline that looked surprised by the nature of the set-piece and his header found the back of Petr Cech’s net.

Wigan dominated the first half and could have increased their lead. Cech had to show his superb reflexes to keep out another defender in the form of Emmerson Boyce. Meanwhile, only a last-ditch tackle from skipper John Terry stopped Jason Scotland from finding the back of the net on his first Premier League start for Wigan.

Martinez’s side were applauded off-the-pitch by the fans after an excellent opening first half performance. However, they only had the one goal to show for their efforts and within 90 seconds of the restart, Chelsea had awoken from their slumber and drew level. Florent Malouda made a game breaking run and this created space for Didier Drogba to squeeze a shot in-between Chris Kirkland’s legs. This was Drogba’s 100th goal for Chelsea in all competitions as he continued to set the early season pace in the race for the Golden Boot.

Six minutes later though, Wigan were back ahead with a moment which would prove to be decisive in the contest. Hugo Rodallega was tripped in the penalty area by Cech. The penalty was given by referee Phil Dowd and with the Colombian set to score had he not been impeded; Dowd had little option but to show the red card to the Chelsea shot-stopper. It was Cech’s first red card of his Blues career. Malouda was sacrificed by Ancelotti to allow the substitute goalkeeper, Hilario, to come on as Cech’s replacement. His first job was to pick the ball out of the net as Rodallega picked himself up, dusted himself down and drove his spot-kick down the middle of the goal to restore Wigan’s lead.

Chelsea actually finished with nine men as Ashley Cole limped off in the closing stages with injury and the home side consigned Ancelotti to a first loss as Chelsea manager when Paul Scharner tapped home from close-range in stoppage-time after reaching Maynor Figueroa’s cutback across the penalty area.

Chelsea got their revenge spectacularly on the final day of the 2009-2010 season. They beat Wigan 8-0 to wrap up their third Premier League title. However, this was one of Wigan’s finest results in a season that also saw Arsenal and Liverpool FC beaten at The DW Stadium.

Seasonal Records: 2016-2017

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2016-2017 Premier League campaign. After their dreadful title defence in 2015-2016, Chelsea bounced back under new manager Antonio Conte to claim a fifth Premier League title, finishing seven points clear of Tottenham Hotspur who enjoyed an unbeaten home season in their last campaign at White Hart Lane.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 30 3 5 85 33 +52 93
2 Tottenham Hotspur 38 26 8 4 86 26 +60 86
3 Manchester City 38 23 9 6 80 39 +41 78
4 Liverpool FC 38 22 10 6 78 42 +36 76
5 Arsenal 38 23 6 9 77 44 +33 75
6 Manchester United 38 18 15 5 54 29 +25 69
7 Everton 38 17 10 11 62 44 +18 61
8 Southampton 38 12 10 16 41 48 -7 46
9 AFC Bournemouth 38 12 10 16 55 67 -12 46
10 West Bromwich Albion 38 12 9 17 43 51 -8 45
11 West Ham United 38 12 9 17 47 64 -17 45
12 Leicester City 38 12 8 18 48 63 -15 44
13 Stoke City 38 11 11 16 41 56 -15 44
14 Crystal Palace 38 12 5 21 50 63 -13 41
15 Swansea City 38 12 5 21 45 70 -25 41
16 Burnley 38 11 7 20 39 55 -16 40
17 Watford 38 11 7 20 40 68 -28 40
18 Hull City 38 9 7 22 37 80 -43 34
19 Middlesbrough 38 5 13 20 27 53 -26 28
20 Sunderland 38 6 6 26 29 69 -40 24

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 1064
European qualifiers Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester City (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Europa League)

Everton (UEFA Europa League)

Longest winning run 13 games (Chelsea)
Longest unbeaten run 25 games (Manchester United)
Longest winless run 16 games (Middlesbrough)
Longest losing run 6 games (Crystal Palace, Watford and Hull City)
Highest attendance 75,397 (Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion)
Lowest attendance 10,890 (AFC Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
PFA Young Player of the Year Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Football Writers’ Award N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
PFA Team of the Year David de Gea, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, N’Golo Kante, Dele Alli, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku
Manager of the Year Antonio Conte (Chelsea)
Premier League Goal of the Season Emre Can (Watford vs. LIVERPOOL FC)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Romelu Lukaku Sunderland vs. Everton 0-3 12th September 2016
Alexis Sanchez West Ham United vs. Arsenal 1-5 3rd December 2016
Jamie Vardy Leicester City vs. Manchester City 4-2 10th December 2016
Salomon Rondon West Bromwich Albion vs. Swansea City 3-1 14th December 2016
Andre Gray Burnley vs. Sunderland 4-1 31st December 2016
Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion 4-0 14th January 2017
Romelu Lukaku (4) Everton vs. AFC Bournemouth 6-3 4th February 2017
Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City 4-0 26th February 2017
Josh King AFC Bournemouth vs. West Ham United 3-2 11th March 2017
Harry Kane (4) Leicester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur 1-6 18th May 2017
Harry Kane Hull City vs. Tottenham Hotspur 1-7 21st May 2017

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur 29
2 Romelu Lukaku Everton 25
3 Alexis Sanchez Arsenal 24
4= Diego Costa Chelsea 20
4= Sergio Aguero Manchester City 20
6 Dele Alli Tottenham Hotspur 18
7 Zlatan Ibrahimovic Manchester United 17
8= Eden Hazard Chelsea 16
8= Josh King AFC Bournemouth 16
10= Christian Benteke Crystal Palace 15
10= Fernando Llorente Swansea City 15
10= Jermain Defoe Sunderland 15
13 Heung-Min Son Tottenham Hotspur 14
14= Philippe Coutinho Liverpool FC 13
14= Jamie Vardy Leicester City 13
14= Sadio Mane Liverpool FC 13
17 Olivier Giroud Arsenal 12
18 Roberto Firmino Liverpool FC 11
19= Theo Walcott Arsenal 10
19= Sam Vokes Burnley 10
19= Troy Deeney Watford 10
22= Pedro Chelsea 9
22= Michail Antonio West Ham United 9
22= Gylfi Sigurdsson Swansea City 9
22= Andre Gray Burnley 9

 

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Hull City 1-7 Tottenham Hotspur 21st May 2017
Leicester City 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur 18th May 2017
Liverpool FC 6-1 Watford 6th November 2016
AFC Bournemouth 6-1 Hull City 15th October 2016
Chelsea 5-0 Everton 5th November 2016
Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 Swansea City 3rd December 2016
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace 6th May 2017
Watford 0-5 Manchester City 21st May 2017
Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland 21st May 2017
Liverpool FC 5-1 Hull City 24th September 2016

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Everton 6-3 AFC Bournemouth 4th February 2017
9 Swansea City 5-4 Crystal Palace 26th November 2016
8 Hull City 1-7 Tottenham Hotspur 21st May 2017
7 Leicester City 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur 18th May 2017
7 Liverpool FC 6-1 Watford 6th November 2016
7 AFC Bournemouth 6-1 Hull City 15th October 2016
7 Chelsea 4-3 Watford 15th May 2017
7 Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool FC 14th August 2016
7 Watford 3-4 Southampton 4th March 2017
7 AFC Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool FC 4th December 2016
6 Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland 21st May 2017
6 Liverpool FC 5-1 Hull City 24th September 2016
6 West Ham United 1-5 Arsenal 3rd December 2016
6 Chelsea 4-2 Stoke City 31st December 2016
6 Chelsea 4-2 Southampton 25th April 2017
6 Crystal Palace 2-4 Liverpool FC 29th October 2016
6 Everton 4-2 Leicester City 9th April 2017
6 West Bromwich Albion 4-2 West Ham United 17th September 2016
6 Hull City 4-2 Middlesbrough 5th April 2017
6 AFC Bournemouth 3-3 Arsenal 3rd January 2017

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Angel Gomes Manchester United 2-0 Crystal Palace 16 years, 8 months, 20 days 21st May 2017
Ben Woodburn Liverpool FC 2-0 Sunderland 17 years, 1 month, 11 days 26th November 2016
Joel Asoro Sunderland 1-2 Middlesbrough 17 years, 3 months, 25 days 21st August 2016
Jonathan Leko West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Everton 17 years, 3 months, 27 days 20th August 2016
Josh Tymon Sunderland 3-0 Hull City 17 years, 5 months, 28 days 19th November 2016
Dion Pereira Leicester City 3-0 Watford 18 years, 1 month, 11 day 6th May 2017
Aiden O’Neill Burnley 2-0 Liverpool FC 18 years, 1 month, 16 days 20th August 2016
Tom Davies Everton 1-0 Stoke City 18 years, 1 month, 28 days 27th August 2016
Trent Alexander-Arnold Middlesbrough 0-3 Liverpool FC 18 years, 2 months, 7 days 14th December 2016
Sam Field West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Middlesbrough 18 years, 3 months, 20 days 28th August 2016

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Shay Given Crystal Palace 4-1 Stoke City 40 years, 4 months, 29 days 18th September 2016
Gareth McAuley West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Chelsea 37 years, 5 months, 7 days 12th May 2017
Paul Robinson Swansea City 3-2 Burnley 37 years, 4 months, 17 days 4th March 2017
Artur Boruc AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Burnley 37 years, 2 months, 23 days 13th May 2017
Marcin Wasilewski Leicester City 0-2 Everton 36 years, 6 months, 17 days 26th December 2016
John Terry Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland 36 years, 5 months, 14 days 21st May 2017
Peter Crouch Southampton 0-1 Stoke City 36 years, 3 months, 21 days 21st May 2017
Heurelho Gomes Watford 0-5 Manchester City 36 years, 3 months, 6 days 21st May 2017
Gareth Barry Arsenal 3-1 Everton 36 years, 2 months, 28 days 21st May 2017
John O’Shea Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland 36 years, 21 days 21st May 2017

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Thibaut Courtois Chelsea 16
2 Hugo Lloris Tottenham Hotspur 15
3= David de Gea Manchester United 14
3= Fraser Forster Southampton 14
5 Petr Cech Arsenal 12
6= Joel Robles Everton 10
6= Tom Heaton Burnley 10
8= Simon Mignolet Liverpool FC 9
8= Artur Boruc AFC Bournemouth 9
8= Kasper Schmeichel Leicester City 9

Referees in the Middle: Mark Halsey

Premier League Career: 1999-2013

First Premier League Match: Wimbledon 1-1 Coventry City (14 August 1999)

Last Premier League Match: Manchester City 2-3 Norwich City (19 May 2013)

Mark Halsey had a Premier League career that spanned 14 years and he knows that there is more to life than just officiating ‘The Beautiful Game.’ In 2009, he underwent chemotherapy to treat a cancerous tumour in his throat. He came back from this diagnosis and was arguably, even stronger as an official for the experience he went through away from the football pitch.

Like many of his fellow Premier League refereeing peers, Halsey did try out as a footballer, spending 12 years playing non-league football for the likes of Hertford Town and Cambridge City. He even played one game for Barnet in December 1984. Realising he didn’t quite have the skills to become a success playing the game, Mark elected to focus on refereeing in 1989.

He was a National List referee from the mid-1990s until 1999, when he earned himself promotion to the Premier League. His most iconic game was being the man in the middle during the 1999 Second Division play-off final between Gillingham and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium. Tony Pulis’ side were 2-0 up going into the dying stages when City staged an incredible fightback to draw 2-2 and take the game to extra-time. They ultimately won promotion via the lottery of a penalty shootout.

His first Premier League appointment was a fixture between Wimbledon and Coventry City in August 1999. For the records, the game ended in a 1-1 draw. At the end of that season, he was added to the FIFA list of officials and officiated at the Toulon Tournament. Halsey’s global experience would also take him to the World Student Games in Beijing and the FIFA World Disabled Championships in Japan.

When the Select Group of Referees was created in 2001, Halsey’s name was on it and he would remain one of the game’s top officials upto until his retirement. He was very unfortunate not to get the FA Cup final, which remains the pinnacle fixture for many of today’s officials. The closest he got to this showpiece occasion was as fourth official to Mike Riley at the 2002 final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Halsey did get his final six years later and it was involving Chelsea again, like the 2002 FA Cup final when they’d lost to Arsenal. Obviously he was a bad omen for the Blues against north London sides because they were beaten in extra-time by Tottenham Hotspur in the 2008 League Cup final. Halsey was also appointed to the FA Community Shield match earlier that season between Chelsea and Manchester United. Yep, Chelsea lost that one too but this time, on a penalty shootout following a draw over the two hours.

On the eve of the 2009-2010 season beginning, Halsey revealed he had been diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was to undergo surgery to remove a tumour in his throat. It was cancerous and came only a few months after his wife had been diagnosed with leukaemia. Chemotherapy was required every fortnight as well as occasional courses of radiation. This was now the biggest battle of his life.

Halsey was never alone though. During his treatment, he received messages of support from the likes of Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and England skipper John Terry. In December 2009, he announced his cancer was in remission, saying: “It is a fantastic Christmas present. It hasn’t been easy, but remaining positive and trying to keep life normal — I think that’s what helps. If I can walk out and referee another game then it will give hope to all the other people fighting cancer.”

Having relinquished any refereeing duties to beat cancer, Mark was back before the end of the season taking charge of reserve and League Two matches. He was back in the Premier League for the opening day of the 2010-2011 season, taking control of Blackpool’s first-ever match at this level which was the 4-0 thumping they dished out to Wigan Athletic.

In his final season, he made a formal complaint to police after two abusive messages were posted to him on social media referring to his cancer treatment. They came after his performance at Anfield in September 2012 when Halsey dismissed Liverpool FC’s midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and awarded a penalty to Manchester United. Police found the culprit and cautioned him.

He retired in May 2013 with his final game being between Manchester City and Norwich City, having officiated 280 Premier League matches, handing out 623 yellow cards and 36 red cards. He wrote a book after his retirement which received a foreword from Jose Mourinho and has been part of BT Sport’s Premier League coverage, often providing analysis on refereeing decisions.

In June 2018, he made the headlines, revealing he showed a yellow card to a player who had asked him to be booked during a top-flight match in 2011. He told CNN: “The player said: ‘If I don’t get cautioned now and get one Tuesday, I’ll miss the big derby.’ “I said: ‘When I give a free-kick against you, leather the ball 50 yards and I can caution you for dissent.” The player and the match in question remain unidentified.

Mark Halsey is an example to people who have to deal with life-changing news, win the battle of their lives and come back stronger than ever.

The Managers: Andre Villas-Boas

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2011-2012), Tottenham Hotspur (2012-2013)

Still only 41, Andre Villas-Boas harbours the desire to get back into management, although whether that will be back in the Premier League remains to be seen. AVB’s most recent commitment though was away from football. Following one of his other main passions, he quit his role managing in China to compete in the 2018 Dakar Rally, though it didn’t end in glory.

One of Jose Mourinho’s disciples, Villas-Boas has experienced tricky times with both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur but has won honours as a manager in both Portugal and Russia.

Learning from a master

Unlike many of his former colleagues, Villas-Boas didn’t actually experience a playing career. He did his learning at FC Porto under the tutorage of the late, great Sir Bobby Robson. It was Robson who arranged for AVB to begin his FA coaching qualifications, as well as to do some observational work at Ipswich Town and how they trained.

At the age of just 21, he was appointed technical director of the British Virgin Islands national team before continuing his development under the guidance of Jose Mourinho. He was one of Mourinho’s assistants during his first spell at Chelsea and also followed him to Inter Milan for Jose’s first campaign in Serie A.

In October 2009, Villas-Boas elected to go alone, taking the managerial job with Portuguese club Academica. It was a challenge as Academica were sitting bottom of the table in the Portuguese top-flight. He guided them to a comfortable mid-table finish and also the semi-finals of the domestic cup, winning plenty of admirers for an attractive style of football.

In the summer of 2010, both FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon were looking for new managers and AVB was immediately linked with both positions. He elected to choose Porto and the 2010-2011 season was a dream for him. They won the league championship by 20 points, conceding only 13 goals in 34 matches during the season. Porto were unbeaten through the league season for only the second time in their history and there was also great success in Europe. They won the UEFA Europa League; defeating country rivals Sporting Braga in the final. The success made Villas-Boas the youngest-ever manager to win a European trophy, at the age of just 33 years and 213 days. Chelsea liked what they saw and having sacked Carlo Ancelotti after a season without a trophy, he would be their next boss. 

A sour experience at Stamford Bridge

It wasn’t cheap to get Villas-Boas. Chelsea had to pay FC Porto over £13 million in compensation to release him from his contract. He won all of his pre-season fixtures and managed to attract the likes of Juan Mata and Raul Meireles to the club.

However, he preferred to use creative players and started to alienate the senior core of players. Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were often left on the bench and weren’t happy with their reduced playing time, whilst Nicolas Anelka left for the riches of the Chinese Super League. Despite a decent start to the Premier League season, Chelsea’s form dipped in the autumn, losing games in quick succession to Queens Park Rangers (1-0), Arsenal (3-5) and Liverpool FC (1-2).

Under his reign, they did end Manchester City’s unbeaten start to the domestic season but the pressure was starting to increase, especially when the Blues dropped out of the top four after a lacklustre display in a 2-0 loss to Everton in mid-February. A 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie added to the problems and when the Blues lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion in early March, he was sacked and replaced on an interim basis by his no.2, Roberto Di Matteo. It was the first major setback in his still young managerial career.

Time for Tottenham

In July 2012, Tottenham Hotspur were looking for a new manager after deciding to part ways with Harry Redknapp and they decided to hire Villas-Boas on a three-year contract. He was excited and ambitious about the plans he had for the club.

It took him four games to get his first league victory for the club but a 3-1 away win at Reading started an improved run of form, which included him becoming the first Tottenham manager to win at Old Trafford in 23 years. A run of five victories in six December games pushed Spurs into third position going into 2013 and hopes were high for a top four finish. When they defeated nearest rivals Arsenal 2-1 in March at White Hart Lane, they looked set to achieve this goal. However, back-to-back losses to Liverpool FC and at home to Fulham saw them throw away a decent points advantage. Arsenal clawed back the initiative and despite Gareth Bale’s best efforts, it was the Gunners who claimed fourth place and the final UEFA Champions League qualification spot on the final day of the season.

The season had ended in disappointment of not achieving the ultimate goal but the final points tally of 73 was the highest in Spurs’ Premier League history and was a record still held until the runners-up position in 2016-2017 achieved under Mauricio Pochettino. It was also the highest total of points achieved by a team not to finish in the top four in a 38-game season.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League meant Bale was virtually certain to leave and so he did, joining Real Madrid for £85.3 million. Tottenham spent big in the summer of 2013 in an effort to strengthen their resources. The likes of Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue, Roberto Soldado and Christian Eriksen were among the new recruits.

However, league form was disappointing and two demoralising defeats, 6-0 away against Manchester City and 5-0 at home to Liverpool FC left Spurs trailing in seventh position in the table. Daniel Levy decided to sack AVB just over a fortnight before Christmas 2013. This came after intense scrutinising of his coaching methods and integrity from several of the football journalists reporting on the Lilywhites at the time.  

From Russia to the Dakar

Following his English troubles, AVB tried another country, taking over at Zenit Saint Petersburg, winning the Russian Premier League title in 2015 and the domestic cup a year later. VfL Wolfsburg offered him the position as their boss in October 2016 after the departure of Dieter Hecking but he turned down the job for a lucrative position as boss of Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League. He spent one season with them before deciding to take a break from management. He decided to try his luck in the 2018 Dakar Rally, driving a Toyota Hilux. A keen motorsport fan, his experience didn’t last long, crashing four stages in and damaging his back. Two months later, he competed in another off-road rally and this hobby is certainly something that is keeping him busy away from the trials and tribulations he has experienced in his football management career.

Premier League Rewind: 26th-27th August 1994

Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers 4-0 Coventry City, Leeds United 2-3 Chelsea, Manchester City 4-0 Everton, Newcastle United 5-1 Southampton, Norwich City 1-0 West Ham United, Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Manchester United, Wimbledon 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Liverpool FC 3-0 Arsenal

Going into the third set of fixtures in the 1994-1995 Premier League, 20 teams had played two games each and just two sides had 100% records. They were Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. The Magpies had already scored seven goals in their opening two victories over Leicester City and Coventry City. They were about to add five more to that tally in a 5-1 destruction of Southampton.

The rout against the Saints was set-up by three goals in a 10-minute period. Defender Steve Watson, who was playing in a wide midfield position, benefited from a more attacking approach by scoring the first two goals of the afternoon. Andy Cole added another brace to his growing collection as Kevin Keegan’s side consolidated top spot in the early season table.

Tottenham’s maximum start to the season disappeared as they were beaten 1-0 by champions Manchester United at White Hart Lane. United skipper Steve Bruce scored the only goal, heading home after Ian Walker came for a Ryan Giggs corner and got nowhere near it. Bruce then blotted his copybook by giving away a penalty for body checking Ilie Dumitrescu. However, Teddy Sheringham couldn’t convert the spot-kick. He was denied by Peter Schmeichel. It was a second failure from the penalty spot for Sheringham in four days.

With work still being done to the new Kop all-seater stand, Liverpool FC hadn’t played in the first midweek round of the season but the new era at the ground began on Super Sunday with Arsenal the visitors to Anfield. It would produce one of the most groundbreaking historical records that would stand for over two decades. Young forward Robbie Fowler was already making a name for himself. On this day, he scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history – a record that would last for 21 years. The 19-year-old found the net three times in just four minutes and 33 seconds. It was a record that would stand until Sadio Mane managed a quicker treble for Southampton against Aston Villa in May 2015. Liverpool won the game 3-0 and a star was well and truly born.

That meant Liverpool had won two games from two and so too had Chelsea, who produced the comeback of the round. They went 2-0 down to Leeds United inside 18 minutes, courtesy of goals from South African Phil Masinga and Leeds’ own young talent in Noel Whelan. The fightback was inspired by Dennis Wise, who scored from the penalty spot before half-time. Then, his free-kick in the 61st minute was saved by John Lukic but only into the path of John Spencer to equalise. Spencer scored the winner with two minutes left with his shot from outside the area squirming underneath Lukic’s body to complete a great turnaround from the Londoners.

After three sets of games, eight clubs were still awaiting their first victory of the campaign. Among them were Aston Villa, who were pegged back at home in the closing stages for the second successive match. Newly-promoted Crystal Palace earned a 1-1 draw thanks to Gareth Southgate’s 87th minute equaliser. Coventry City were another side without a victory and they took a second consecutive 4-0 beating on their travels. This time, it was Blackburn Rovers dishing out a thrashing, with their new striker, Chris Sutton scoring a hat-trick. Coventry had Mick Quinn sent off.

There were worrying signs too for Mike Walker at Everton whose side caved in dramatically in the second half at Maine Road. Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh both scored twice as Manchester City eased to a 4-0 victory and Walker would only win one match in the league before being dismissed in early November by the Toffees hierarchy.

What else happened in August 1994?

  • The IRA announces a “complete cessation of military operations.”
  • The 1994 Sunday Trading Act comes into force, permitting retailers to start trading in six-hour slots on Sundays.
  • Britpop band Oasis releases their debut album Definitely Maybe; and it becomes the fastest selling debut album in the United Kingdom.
  • Sky Sports launch their second television channel, as Sky Sports 2 is born.
  • Norwich Central Library is destroyed by a huge fire, with most of the city’s historical records lost in the blaze.
  • The last traces of Eastern Europe’s Soviet occupation disappear as the Russian army vacates Estonia and Latvia.

Iconic Moments: Mixed emotions for Lampard (September 2014)

Frank Lampard is a living legend with all supporters of Chelsea Football Club. Joining the Blues from West Ham United in the summer of 2001, Lampard enjoyed 13 fantastic seasons at Stamford Bridge, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2012 among his honours. He also is Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing Bobby Tambling’s mark in May 2013.

Lampard’s contract wasn’t renewed at the end of 2013-2014 and he decided to embark on a new adventure in the United States with New York City FC. However, this was a new club in the MLS and as they needed time to set-up, Lampard was loaned out to one of New York’s partner clubs – Manchester City.

In September 2014, Lampard came off the bench at The Etihad Stadium to play against Chelsea for the first time in 13 years. Moments later, he had scored the equaliser. David Silva’s chipped ball found James Milner and he squared an opportunity to Lampard, who had made a late run into the box. He found the back of the net to fairly mixed emotions.

He understandably didn’t celebrate. The Chelsea fans looked stunned. Even Jose Mourinho looked slightly lost for words. The game ended 1-1 and both sets of supporters gave Lampard a round of applause at the end. Now manager for Derby County, he remains one of the perfect gentleman of ‘The Beautiful Game.’

Seasonal Records: 2014-2015

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2014-2015 Premier League campaign. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were the class act in this campaign, storming to a fourth title in the Premier League era, finishing eight points clear of Manchester City.  

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 26 9 3 73 32 +41 87
2 Manchester City 38 24 7 7 83 38 +45 79
3 Arsenal 38 22 9 7 71 36 +35 75
4 Manchester United 38 20 10 8 62 37 +25 70
5 Tottenham Hotspur 38 19 7 12 58 53 +5 64
6 Liverpool FC 38 18 8 12 52 48 +4 62
7 Southampton 38 18 6 14 54 33 +21 60
8 Swansea City 38 16 8 14 46 49 -3 56
9 Stoke City 38 15 9 14 48 45 +3 54
10 Crystal Palace 38 13 9 16 47 51 -4 48
11 Everton 38 12 11 15 48 50 -2 47
12 West Ham United 38 12 11 15 44 47 -3 47
13 West Bromwich Albion 38 11 11 16 38 51 -13 44
14 Leicester City 38 11 8 19 46 55 -9 41
15 Newcastle United 38 10 9 19 40 63 -23 39
16 Sunderland 38 7 17 14 31 53 -22 38
17 Aston Villa 38 10 8 20 31 57 -26 38
18 Hull City 38 8 11 19 33 51 -18 35
19 Burnley 38 7 12 19 28 53 -25 33
20 Queens Park Rangers 38 8 6 24 42 73 -31 30

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 975
European qualifiers Chelsea (UEFA Champions League) Manchester City (UEFA Champions League) Arsenal (UEFA Champions League) Manchester United (UEFA Champions League) Tottenham Hotspur (UEFA Europa League) Liverpool FC (UEFA Europa League) Southampton (UEFA Europa League) West Ham United (UEFA Europa League)
Longest winning run 8 games (Arsenal)
Longest unbeaten run 16 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 13 games (Leicester City)
Longest losing run 8 games (Newcastle United)
Highest attendance 75,454 (Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion)
Lowest attendance 16,163 (Queens Park Rangers vs. Stoke City)

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
PFA Young Player of the Year Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Football Writers’ Award Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
PFA Team of the Year David de Gea, Ryan Bertrand, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Philippe Coutinho, Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Harry Kane
Manager of the Year Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
Premier League Goal of the Season Jack Wilshere (ARSENAL vs. West Bromwich Albion)

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Diego Costa Chelsea vs. Swansea City 4-2 13th September 2014
Sergio Aguero (4) Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 18th October 2014
Charlie Austin Queens Park Rangers vs. West Bromwich Albion 3-2 20th December 2014
Jon Walters Stoke City vs. Queens Park Rangers 3-1 31st January 2015
Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City 4-3 21st March 2015
Christian Benteke Aston Villa vs. Queens Park Rangers 3-3 7th April 2015
Yannick Bolasie Sunderland vs. Crystal Palace 1-4 11th April 2015
Sergio Aguero Manchester City vs. Queens Park Rangers 6-0 10th May 2015
Sadio Mane Southampton vs. Aston Villa 6-1 16th May 2015
Theo Walcott Arsenal vs. West Bromwich Albion 4-1 24th May 2015

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Sergio Aguero Manchester City 26
2 Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur 21
3 Diego Costa Chelsea 20
4 Charlie Austin Queens Park Rangers 18
5 Alexis Sanchez Arsenal 16
6= Eden Hazard Chelsea 14
6= Olivier Giroud Arsenal 14
6= Saido Berahino West Bromwich Albion 14
9 Christian Benteke Aston Villa 13
10= David Silva Manchester City 12
10= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 12
10= Graziano Pelle Southampton 12
13= Wilfried Bony Swansea City & Manchester City 11
13= Nacer Chadli Tottenham Hotspur 11
13= Mame Biram Diouf Stoke City 11
13= Leonardo Ulloa Leicester City 11
13= Papiss Cisse Newcastle United 11
13= Danny Ings Burnley 11
19= Yaya Toure Manchester City 10
19= Robin van Persie Manchester United 10
19= Christian Eriksen Tottenham Hotspur 10
19= Sadio Mane Southampton 10
19= Romelu Lukaku Everton 10
19= Diafra Sakho West Ham United 10
25 Juan Mata Manchester United 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Southampton 8-0 Sunderland 18th October 2014
Manchester City 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 10th May 2015
Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa 16th May 2015
Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool FC 24th May 2015
Swansea City 0-5 Chelsea 17th January 2015
Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United 21st February 2015
Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa 1st February 2015
Leicester City 5-1 Queens Park Rangers 24th May 2015
Manchester United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 14th September 2014
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th August 2014

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Everton 3-6 Chelsea 30th August 2014
8 Southampton 8-0 Sunderland 18th October 2014
8 Tottenham Hotspur 5-3 Chelsea 1st January 2015
8 Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United 21st September 2014
7 Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa 16th May 2015
7 Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool FC 24th May 2015
7 Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 Leicester City 21st March 2015
6 Manchester City 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 10th May 2015
6 Leicester City 5-1 Queens Park Rangers 24th May 2015
6 Chelsea 4-2 Swansea City 13th September 2014
6 Hull City 2-4 Manchester City 27th September 2014
6 Manchester United 4-2 Manchester City 12th April 2015
6 Swansea City 2-4 Manchester City 17th May 2015
6 Newcastle United 3-3 Crystal Palace 30th August 2014
6 Newcastle United 3-3 Burnley 1st January 2015
6 Aston Villa 3-3 Queens Park Rangers 7th April 2015
5 Swansea City 0-5 Chelsea 17th January 2015
5 Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United 21st February 2015
5 Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa 1st February 2015
5 Sunderland 1-4 Manchester City 3rd December 2014

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy Sunderland 0-4 Aston Villa 16 years, 6 months, 14 days 14th March 2015
Oliver Shenton Stoke City 1-4 Manchester City 17 years, 3 months, 5 days 11th February 2015
Ainsley Maitland-Niles Arsenal 4-1 Newcastle United 17 years, 3 months, 14 days 13th December 2014
Adam Armstrong Newcastle United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers 17 years, 9 months, 12 days 22nd November 2014
Reece Grego-Cox Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur 18 years, 3 months, 23 days 7th March 2015
Izzy Brown West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Chelsea 18 years, 4 months, 11 days 18th May 2015
Jerome Sinclair Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool FC 18 years, 7 months, 20 days 10th May 2015
Reece Burke Queens Park Rangers 0-0 West Ham United 18 years, 7 months, 23 days 25th April 2015
Jake Hesketh Southampton 1-2 Manchester United 18 years, 8 months, 11 days 8th December 2014
Jose Pozo Sunderland 1-4 Manchester City 18 years, 8 months, 18 days 3rd December 2014

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Mark Schwarzer Leicester City 0-0 Hull City 42 years, 5 months, 8 days 14th March 2015
Steve Harper Hull City 0-0 Manchester United 40 years, 2 months, 10 days 24th May 2015
Jussi Jaaskelainen Southampton 0-0 West Ham United 39 years, 9 months, 23 days 11th February 2015
Shay Given Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa 39 years, 26 days 16th May 2015
Kelvin Davis Manchester City 2-0 Southampton 38 years, 7 months, 25 days 24th May 2015
Sylvain Distin Everton 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur 37 years, 5 months, 8 days 24th May 2015
Michael Duff Burnley 0-0 Stoke City 37 years, 4 months, 5 days 16th May 2015
Didier Drogba Chelsea 3-1 Sunderland 37 years, 2 months, 13 days 24th May 2015
Frank Lampard Manchester City 2-0 Southampton 36 years, 11 months, 4 days 24th May 2015
Clint Hill Leicester City 5-1 Queens Park Rangers 36 years, 7 months, 5 days 24th May 2015

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Joe Hart Manchester City 14
2= Simon Mignolet Liverpool FC 13
2= Fraser Forster Southampton 13
2= Lukasz Fabianski Swansea City 13
5 Thibaut Courtois Chelsea 12
6= Ben Foster West Bromwich Albion 11
6= Costel Pantilimon Sunderland 11
8= David de Gea Manchester United 10
8= Tom Heaton Burnley 10
10 Bradley Guzan Aston Villa 9

Premier League Files: Victor Moses

Premier League Career: Wigan Athletic (2010-2012), Chelsea (2012-2013, 2016-PRESENT), Liverpool FC (2013-2014), Stoke City (2014-2015), West Ham United (2015-2016)

Victor Moses enjoyed a resurrection in his Premier League career when Antonio Conte used him as a wing-back during his first season as Chelsea manager in 2016-2017. Having been discarded completely by Jose Mourinho, Moses did a great job in his new position having previously made his mark as a flying winger. The rewards were greatly demonstrated as Victor ended the season with a Premier League title winners’ medal.

Moses was born in Lagos and suffered tragedy in his childhood when both of his parents were killed in religious riots in Kaduna. Less than a week later, his remaining relatives paid for him to travel to the UK to claim asylum. Placed with a foster family in south London, he took up education in the city and played plenty of football in his spare time.

Spotted by Crystal Palace, he was offered a place in their academy and he made his first-team debut for the Eagles aged just 16 in November 2007 vs. Cardiff City in the Championship. He played 16 times in the 2007-2008 season and tasted the play-offs too although it ended in disappointment as Palace lost in the semi-final stage over two legs to Bristol City. He signed a new contract that summer and continued to shine even if the club struggled, both on and off the pitch.

As the south Londoners slipped into administration in January 2010, he moved to Wigan Athletic for £2.5 million on the final day of the winter transfer window. He made his debut seven days later as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Sunderland and by the end of the season, was a Premier League goalscorer when he scored in a 2-2 home draw with already-relegated Hull City in May.

It was clear that there was plenty of promise in Moses’ game but his rawness meant his final ball or finishing ability sometimes let him down at the crucial moment. His first full Premier League campaign was a struggle with competition for places meaning he was never a guaranteed starter. Injuries also hampered his progress but when Charles N’Zogbia departed for Aston Villa in the summer of 2011, Moses began to blossom. He scored six times in 38 matches, helping Wigan towards another unlikely escape from relegation.

By now, there was a tug-of-war for his services on both a club and international scale. Having represented England’s junior levels, Moses elected to stick to his birth roots and accepted the opportunity to play for Nigeria at senior international level. He was part of the successful Super Eagles squad that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, scoring twice in the group stages against Ethiopia.

Chelsea liked what they saw too and pursued Moses all throughout the summer of 2012, making four unsuccessful bids. After an impressive outing against the reigning Champions of Europe on the opening day of the 2012-2013 season, Chelsea came in again with a fifth bid and this time, Wigan accepted, moving to the Blues in the closing days of the summer transfer window.

Moses’ early involvement for Chelsea came in League Cup and European games but his late equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw at Swansea City in November 2012 saw him gain further opportunities in the Premier League, especially when Rafa Benitez became interim manager later that month. The goal at The Liberty Stadium was his only Premier League strike of the season but he made 23 appearances and saved his goalscoring form for the UEFA Europa League. Moses scored in 50% of his European appearances, including crucial goals in both legs of the semi-final success against FC Basel 1893. He was bitterly unfortunate to miss out on a place in the squad for the victory in the final over Benfica.

Mourinho’s second coming as manager though spelt the end of Moses’ time as a first-team player at Stamford Bridge as he went on-loan for the next three Premier League campaigns. First stop was Liverpool FC in 2013-2014 and although he scored on debut against Swansea, the form of Raheem Sterling restricted Moses to a handful of appearances. He only made nine Premier League starts for the Reds.

Next port of call was Stoke City for 2014-2015 and again, there was a positive start. A Man of the Match performance in the home win over Newcastle United and a goal in a draw with West Ham United indicated he could flourish at Stoke. Unfortunately, he sustained a thigh injury in a shock home loss to Burnley in November 2014, keeping him on the sidelines for two months. He never regained his early-season form and even rejected the opportunity to go back to Chelsea when Mourinho tried to recall him after selling Andre Schurrle to VfL Wolfsburg and loaning out Mohamed Salah in the January transfer window.

In September 2015, he made another loan switch, this time to West Ham United who were about to embark on their final season at Upton Park. This time, the loan had a purchase option at the end of it and once again, Moses started well. He was the first player in the 2015-2016 season to score past Joe Hart as West Ham picked up an impressive 2-1 victory at early season pacesetters Manchester City. Moses made 21 appearances for the Hammers but again had injury issues, with a hamstring injury meaning he missed two months of the campaign and West Ham elected not to take up the option on making the loan move into a permanent switch.

By now, Mourinho had gone and after impressing Antonio Conte in pre-season, it was decided Moses would remain around the Chelsea squad for the 2016-2017 season. When Conte switched formation to a 3-4-3 following back-to-back league defeats to Liverpool FC and Arsenal, Moses was one of the main beneficiaries. He started playing a regular role as a wing-back and seemed to have discovered a new-found confidence with the knowledge he would be starting on a regular basis for his parent club. He scored goals in wins over reigning champions Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur; the goal against the latter ending their unbeaten start to the season. He ended the campaign with 34 league appearances, three goals and a title winners’ medal. Moses had been one of the revelations of the season. It did end on a sour note though, becoming the fifth player to be dismissed in an FA Cup final after being caught diving in an attempt to win a penalty against Arsenal.

Moses remained a regular fixture in 2017-2018 and matched his goal tally from the previous season and he won the FA Cup but Conte’s departure has led to him falling again to a peripheral role under new manager Maurizio Sarri in the early weeks of this season. This summer, he also represented Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup finals and scored an equaliser in the group stage game against Argentina. Marcos Rojo’s late winner though knocked Nigeria out of the tournament and in August 2018, he elected to retire from international football after winning 37 caps for the Africans, scoring 12 goals.

Victor Moses has proved that even though barriers can sometimes look permanently shut, they can be brought down through hard work, persistence and desire to prove people wrong. His efforts in achieving this mean he has a Premier League title winners’ medal safely stored in his honours roll.

Seasonal Stories: Chelsea (1997-1998)

Sackings and cup glory

Having been a mid-table team in the early Premier League Years, Chelsea were beginning to make an impact on the top-flight in the late 1990s. The 1997-1998 season saw the Londoners record their first top-four finish and experience cup glory, with victories in both the League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup under the guidance of Gianluca Vialli.

This was despite having almost as many defeats as relegated Bolton Wanderers and the controversial sacking of Ruud Gullit as first-team manager in February 1998.

Continental knowledge

This was Chelsea’s ninth successive season in England’s top-flight and they went into the 1997-1998 season looking to build on the previous season’s sixth-place finish, as well as victory in the FA Cup final over Middlesbrough.

It was Ruud Gullit’s second season in the dugout at Stamford Bridge and his continental knowledge saw more foreign players recruited in pre-season to add to the depth of the squad. Gus Poyet, who had been part of the Real Zaragoza squad that defeated Arsenal in the 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup final, arrived on a free transfer.

Graeme Le Saux returned to the club after a four-year stint at Blackburn Rovers which had yielded a Premier League title winners’ medal in 1995 with Chelsea paying Rovers £5 million for his services. Nigerian full-back Celestine Babayaro from Anderlecht and a new first-choice goalkeeper in Ed de Goey were among the other new arrivals.

Setting a high standard

Despite an opening day defeat to Coventry City thanks to a Dion Dublin hat-trick, Chelsea made a brilliant start to the season, winning five of their first eight games. This included an excellent 2-2 draw at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United.

In August, they handed Premier League newcomers Barnsley a lesson in how tough life is in the top-flight. Gianluca Vialli, keen to start more matches in this campaign, scored a stunning four goals at Oakwell as the Tykes lost 6-0 on their own patch. By the end of September, Chelsea had already scored 22 goals and were averaging three goals a game.

Expansion to The Shed End and The West Stand meant Chelsea played their first three matches of the league campaign away from home whilst the redevelopment work was completed. Southampton were the first visitors to the modern-day Stamford Bridge and lost 4-2, with all of Chelsea’s goals coming in the first half.

Champions-elect Arsenal were the only side to win on their visit to The Bridge before Christmas and only away form was harming a serious title tilt from Gullit’s men. By the turn of the year, five of Chelsea’s six defeats had come away from home, including disappointing 1-0 defeats to Southampton and Bolton Wanderers. Nevertheless, they still put in some wonderful away performances and the 6-1 humbling they dished out on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane was one of the best team displays of the entire campaign. Another summer recruit, Tore Andre Flo scored a hat-trick.

29TH DECEMBER 1997 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 21 14 4 3 49 16 +33 46
2 Blackburn Rovers 21 11 8 2 38 21 +17 41
3 CHELSEA 21 12 3 6 46 21 +25 39
4 Liverpool FC 20 11 4 5 36 19 +17 37
5 Leeds United 21 10 5 6 30 23 +7 35
6 Arsenal 20 9 7 4 35 23 +12 34

Gobsmacked Gullit

Although there was a disappointing 3-1 defeat away at struggling Everton in January 1998, Chelsea sat in second position when Gullit took his side to Highbury to face Arsenal on 8th February. The Dutchman was greeted warmly by Chairman Ken Bates when he arrived at the ground and everything seemed rosy in-terms of the relationship between manager and owner.

Two Stephen Hughes goals consigned Chelsea to their seventh away defeat of the campaign but they were still leading the chasing pack behind Manchester United and just five points away from the Red Devils too. Discussions were well underway regarding a contract extension for Gullit. Yet, there was to be a sensational story that broke from west London four days after the Arsenal loss.

Chelsea’s hierarchy held a news conference to confirm Gullit had been sacked. Bates said at the press gathering: “We were unable to meet his financial demands.” Managing Director Colin Hutchinson backed this up, adding: “There was no further scope for future negotiations.”

24 hours later, a rather stunned Gullit held his own press conference, claiming he didn’t know why he’d been sacked and demanded to know the real reason for his sudden departure. He dismissed the board’s claims that his wage demands were too high and confirmed he had been ready to sign a new deal to stay on as the club’s manager. Bates later admitted “I didn’t like his arrogance – in fact I never liked him.”

Even more surprisingly, Vialli was immediately appointed as his successor in a player-manager capacity, despite having no previous managerial experience. With Chelsea second in the league and into the semi-finals of the League Cup, plus a European quarter-final, the timing of this managerial change did have a detrimental effect on the rest of the Premier League season.

Hanging onto fourth

Chelsea’s Premier League campaign crumbled after this decision. Vialli lost his first three matches in-charge, including a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United which saw many bookmakers deciding not to take anymore bets on where the title was going. However, United were about to be humbled by a team from London. However, it was Arsenal who went on a devastating run of form to snatch the Premier League title.

The players had seemed just as surprised as anyone by the board’s decision to dispense with Gullit’s services, plus the fact that one of their teammates was now their boss. Vialli still got the side playing some attractive football and this was demonstrated when Liverpool FC were well-beaten 4-1 on their visit to Stamford Bridge in late April. A final day victory over Bolton Wanderers ensured a fourth-place finish. However, there was a sense from within the fans that an opportunity was missed to launch a serious title challenge. Although they finished second highest goalscorers with 71 goals, Chelsea lost more games in the season than Wimbledon, who finished 19 points adrift and in 15th place. Relegated Bolton only lost one more match than what Chelsea did

There was a silver lining to the season though with double cup glory. For the second successive season, Middlesbrough were beaten in a cup final, losing 2-0 in the League Cup final. Right at the end of the season, Gianfranco Zola came off the bench to score the only goal in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final against VfB Stuttgart.

FINAL 1997-1998 TABLE – THIRD TO EIGHTH

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
3 Liverpool FC 38 18 11 9 68 42 +26 65
4 CHELSEA 38 20 3 15 71 43 +28 63
5 Leeds United 38 17 8 13 57 46 +11 59
6 Blackburn Rovers 38 16 10 12 57 52 +5 58
7 Aston Villa 38 17 6 15 49 48 +1 57
8 West Ham United 38 16 8 14 56 57 -1 56

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-3 AFC Bournemouth (January 2018)

Goalscorers: Callum Wilson 51, Junior Stanislas 64, Nathan Ake 67

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen (Antonio Rudiger 28), Marcos Alonso, Tiemoue Bakayoko, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley (Cesc Fabregas 54), Eden Hazard, Pedro

AFC Bournemouth: Asmir Begovic, Nathan Ake, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling, Ryan Fraser, Jordon Ibe (Marc Pugh 83), Junior Stanislas (Josh King 71), Callum Wilson (Lys Mousset 90)

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 41,464

Two seasons earlier, AFC Bournemouth had stunned Chelsea in their dreadful title defence, winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Now, Eddie Howe’s side were keen to repeat this success as they were enjoying a five-game unbeaten run which had included victories over Everton and Arsenal in this period.

Chelsea themselves had no chance of defending the title they’d won in 2016-2017 but were in an eight-game unbeaten league sequence of their own and among the challengers for a top-four finish. They were also able to parade Olivier Giroud at half-time. The Frenchman had been prized away from Arsenal in a three-way deal which saw Michy Batshuayi go to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season and Arsenal break their club-record to snap up Dortmund marksman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Chelsea were missing Alvaro Morata and Willian to injury with Ross Barkley making his first Premier League start for the club since joining from Everton earlier in the January transfer window. The home side dominated possession but failed to create clear-cut chances in the first 45 minutes. Bournemouth were able to smother Eden Hazard, whilst defensive resources were stretched further for Antonio Conte when Andreas Christensen limped off after 28 minutes to be replaced by Antonio Rudiger.

Having kept Chelsea at bay, Bournemouth turned in a clinical 16-minute spell in the second half as they dismantled the reigning champions on their own patch. In the 51st minute, Tiemoue Bakayoko was caught in possession and from this error, the Blues were brutally punished. Jordon Ibe slipped an inch-perfect pass in-between the centre-backs Rudiger and Gary Cahill and Callum Wilson timed his run perfectly to slip the ball underneath the advancing Thibaut Courtois. It was the first goal in the Premier League Chelsea had conceded at Stamford Bridge in 489 minutes.

13 minutes later, they had conceded again. This time, Wilson had turned goal provider, sliding a pass inside Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta for Junior Stanislas to fire home. Chelsea looked like a broken side and three minutes later, Bournemouth had scored again. From a corner, Stanislas’ effort which looked to be sailing wide of the post was steered into the net by ex-Chelsea defender Nathan Ake.

On the bench, Giroud sank further beyond his training jacket. 24 hours earlier, he’d made his farewell appearance for Arsenal off the bench in a humbling defeat at Swansea. Now, it seemed like he’d joined another London sinking ship. It was defeats like this that cost Chelsea a place in this season’s Champions League and would ultimately cost Conte his job. Bournemouth finished 12th with what was their finest result of the 2017-2018 season.

Premier League Rewind: 24th February-1st March 2018

Results: Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City, AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 Swansea City, Burnley 1-1 Southampton, Liverpool FC 4-1 West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Huddersfield Town, Watford 1-0 Everton, Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea, Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City

This particular Premier League round of matches was stretched over five days due to Arsenal and Manchester City’s participation in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium. It meant Manchester United had the opportunity to narrow City’s lead in the table to 13 points for a few days at least. They came up against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the first match between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte since a bitter war of words had exploded in the media between the pair at the start of the year.

Chelsea started the brighter side and led after 32 minutes thanks to Willian’s goal on the counter-attack. However, Romelu Lukaku equalised seven minutes later and as Conte decided to sit back, Mourinho saw the opportunity to expose this flaw. 15 minutes from full-time, Lukaku’s cross was met by the head of substitute Jesse Lingard. He found the net and that spearheaded United to a 2-1 victory. It was Chelsea’s third defeat in four matches and saw them slip outside the top four. It was a position Conte and his side would never regain for the remainder of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur replaced them in the top four after snatching a very late win away at Crystal Palace. Once again, it was Harry Kane who delivered for Spurs. His header from Christian Eriksen’s corner in the 88th minute took Spurs to a vital 1-0 victory. It looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors who dominated throughout but wasteful finishing and an inspired Wayne Hennessey display looked set to deny them the win. That was until Kane came to the rescue with his 102nd Premier League goal.

Liverpool FC consolidated their position in the top four after breezing past West Ham United 4-1 at Anfield, repeating the scoreline they’d achieved earlier in the season against the Hammers at The London Stadium. Liverpool’s goals came from Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane plus a header from Emre Can. It would turn out to be the German’s final goal for the club. He would leave in the summer on a free transfer for Juventus. Can’s header was also LFC’s 100th goal in all competitions for the campaign.

Liverpool weren’t the only 4-1 winners. Brighton & Hove Albion also achieved this scoreline in their triumph over Swansea City. Glenn Murray scored twice and Jurgen Locadia came off the bench to net on his Premier League debut. It was the first taste of Premier League defeat for Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal and kept Swansea inside the drop zone on goal difference.

They were above Stoke City, who drew 1-1 at Leicester City in the first game of the weekend. Leading just before half-time through Xherdan Shaqiri’s fine strike, an error from Jack Butland allowed Marc Albrighton’s cross to sneak in at his near post. West Bromwich Albion remained bottom of the table after another damaging loss. Beaten 2-1 at home by Huddersfield Town, they had now lost four games in a row and slipped seven points adrift of safety. Rajiv van La Parra clearly had taken a liking to the Baggies. Having scored the winning goal when the sides met in November at The John Smith’s Stadium, Van La Parra struck the first goal in the victory at The Hawthorns that took Huddersfield 10 points clear of their opponents.

Four days after their resounding League Cup final success over Arsenal, Manchester City would repeat the triumph in the Premier League. They crushed the Gunners on their own turf by the same score as they’d managed at Wembley. Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane all found the net on a freezing Thursday night in the capital as City won 3-0 to regain their 16-point advantage at the top of the table.

What else happened in February 2018?

  • After nine years in power, Jacob Zuma resigns as South African president.
  • The UK’s largest toy retailer, Toys “R” Us, goes into administration.
  • The 2018 Winter Olympics are held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
  • Saratov Airlines Flight 703 crashes shortly after take-off from Moscow, killing 71 people onboard.
  • Another school shooting in the United States, this time at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida injures 17 and kills 17 people.
  • Trinity Mirror purchases Northern & Shell, chaired by Richard Desmond, for £126.7 million.
  • Dua Lipa and Stormzy are the big winners at the 2018 BRIT Awards. Both win two awards at the ceremony, hosted by Jack Whitehall.