Tag Archives: Chelsea

Premier League Rewind: 16th-18th December 2006

Results: Charlton Athletic 0-3 Liverpool FC, Arsenal 2-2 Portsmouth, Newcastle United 2-1 Watford, Reading 1-2 Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Sheffield United, Aston Villa 0-1 Bolton Wanderers, Everton 2-3 Chelsea, Manchester City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United 1-0 Manchester United, Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough

The Christmas programme in 2006 was about to get underway and already, the 2006-2007 title race looked to be a straight shootout between Manchester United and Chelsea. Going into the 16th-18th December weekend, it was the Red Devils who had a five-point advantage. By the end of the weekend, Jose Mourinho’s champions had whittled the lead down after a dramatic Sunday afternoon involving the title contenders.

The Blues’ kicked off first on Merseyside and were given a very tough game by David Moyes and his Everton side. Everton were only 10th going into the match but just four points off the coveted UEFA Champions League qualifying positions and they led Chelsea twice in this match. In fact, Chelsea trailed 2-1 going into the last 10 minutes before amazing goals from Frank Lampard and then, another long-range special by Didier Drogba steered the Londoners home to a nervy and exciting 3-2 victory.

Later that afternoon, Manchester United travelled to Upton Park where West Ham United were welcoming their new manager. Alan Curbishley had been appointed a few days earlier, replacing Alan Pardew who had been sacked following a 4-0 defeat at Bolton eight days earlier. West Ham went into the weekend in the bottom three and desperate for a victory. They collected three much-needed points as Nigel Reo-Coker scored the only goal of the match and gave Curbishley a winning start. The gap between the top two was now two points.

Arsenal and Portsmouth were holding the other two Champions League qualification spots at the start of the weekend and they met each other at the Emirates Stadium. Pompey were flying and when Matt Taylor scored a looping volley, they were 2-0 up and looking set to become the first Premier League team to win at Arsenal’s new home. Arsene Wenger’s frustrations got the better of him and he was sent from the touchline but he will have been pleased to see his team’s battling qualities. Emmanuel Adebayor and skipper Gilberto Silva scored to ensure the points were shared.

Their draw allowed Liverpool FC to cash in and take third spot. Liverpool kicked off in the Saturday lunchtime game at second-bottom Charlton Athletic and it was one of the most one-sided away games in Premier League history. Liverpool had 24 attempts on-goal against Les Reed’s gutless side but only had a Xabi Alonso third-minute penalty to their name, squandering a host of opportunities. Luckily, Charlton were so bad, it didn’t matter. Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard did find the back of the net in the last 10 minutes to ensure the score had a fairer reflection given the visitors’ dominance. Reed lasted just one more abject match before being sacked as Charlton manager.

Elsewhere, Bolton climbed into fifth spot after Gary Speed’s penalty beat Aston Villa at Villa Park. Blackburn Rovers came from behind to pick up a valuable 2-1 victory away to Reading with David Bentley scoring the pick of the goals. Middlesbrough’s 2-1 defeat at home specialists Fulham on the Monday Night Football meant Gareth Southgate’s side slipped to 17th and just outside the bottom three on goal difference.

What else happened in December 2006?

  • Leona Lewis wins the X-Factor, becoming the first female winner of the ITV talent show.
  • Forklift driver Steve Wright is charged with the murders of five women in Ipswich between the 30th October and 10th December. He is sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2008.
  • Aged 93, Gerald Ford dies after years battling ill health. He was the 38th President of the United States, serving in office from August 1974 to January 1977.
  • Actress Wendy Richard leaves EastEnders after her character Pauline Fowler dies on Christmas Day. She had been in Albert Square since the very first episode in 1985.
  • Equestrian Zara Phillips follows in her mother’s footsteps by becoming BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2006.
  • 2,300 jobs are lost when the Ryton car factory closes in Warwickshire and production of the Peugeot 206 is moved to Slovakia.
  • An oil pipeline explodes on Boxing Day in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least 200 people.
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Premier League Rewind: 19th-20th November 2005

Results: Wigan Athletic 2-3 Arsenal, Charlton Athletic 1-3 Manchester United, Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United, Liverpool FC 3-0 Portsmouth, Manchester City 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland 1-3 Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 3-2 Fulham, Birmingham City P-P Bolton Wanderers

After an international break, the Premier League resumed on the 19th-20th November 2005 with Chelsea threatening to run away with the title. However, Jose Mourinho’s side had been beaten for the first time in 40 top-flight matches last time out by Manchester United, so that gave some flickering hopes to the challengers.

If there was going to be any let-up from the reigning champions, they didn’t show it at home to Newcastle United. Second half goals from Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff set the Blues’ up for an easy 3-0 victory over the Magpies.

Going into the weekend, newly-promoted Wigan Athletic were Chelsea’s nearest challengers. Paul Jewell’s side had strung together a stunning nine-game unbeaten sequence which included eight victories. However, they were about to face some of the Premier League’s big-hitters. First up was Arsenal who were struggling to sparkle away from Highbury. However, they prevailed in an entertaining Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Thierry Henry scored twice as the Gunners won this match 3-2 and Wigan would go onto lose their next four matches.

That result pushed Arsenal into the top four and they were joined there by Manchester United, who won 3-1 at Charlton Athletic. Ruud van Nistelrooy continued his excellent season so far, scoring twice. The win at The Valley came 24 hours after United had confirmed they had parted company with skipper Roy Keane, releasing him from his contract by mutual consent. Keane would sign for Celtic a month later.

Bolton Wanderers started the weekend in the top three but would drop down to fifth spot through no fault of their own. Their Monday Night Football trip to Birmingham City was postponed by referee Phil Dowd just an hour before kick-off. Although the pitch was playable at St Andrews, heavy fog had set in and visibility was considered to be too dangerous for the game to be played.

After a slow start to the season, Liverpool FC were beginning to find their form. They recorded a third successive victory with a 3-0 win at home to struggling Portsmouth. Peter Crouch’s goalscoring drought continued as he had a penalty saved but Bolo Zenden scored the rebound effort in his final Premier League match of the campaign before a knee injury curtailed his debut season at Anfield. It was also the final match in charge for Alain Perrin. He was sacked a few days later and became the first managerial casualty of the 2005-2006 season.

If things were going better for Liverpool, they didn’t improve for David Moyes at Everton. After last season’s fine fourth-place finish, they were finding the going much more difficult this time around. Everton lost 4-0 in the Saturday teatime kick-off to West Bromwich Albion which kept them in the bottom three on goal difference, along with Birmingham and Sunderland who lost again – 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.

What else happened in November 2005?

  • The footballing world mourns the death of one of Britain’s finest players as George Best passes away in hospital, aged 59 after a long battle with illness.
  • Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
  • Former British World Rally champion Richard Burns dies at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. Burns had won the championship with Subaru just four years earlier.
  • Digital channel ITV4 is launched.
  • The Safeway supermarket brand disappears after 43 years on the high street as Morrisons completes its conversion programme. The two companies had merged in March 2004.
  • New licensing laws come into effect which allows pubs and clubs in England and Wales to open 24 hours for the first time.

Iconic Moments: Suarez’s biting shame (April 2013)

When Liverpool FC sold Fernando Torres on transfer deadline day in January 2011, few fans thought they would be getting a better replacement. Just over £20 million was paid to the Dutch club Ajax for Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez. Suarez would leave plenty of amazing and breathtaking memories on our game but he also brought baggage with him to this country.

Famed for the handball on the goal-line in extra-time that denied Ghana a place in the 2010 World Cup semi-finals, Suarez wasn’t the most popular player with neutral fans. His character was stained further after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during a match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United in October 2011. Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA and his refusal to shake Evra’s hand in the reverse fixture on his return at Old Trafford also received plenty of condemnation.

In 2012-2013, he was in electrifying form. Only Robin van Persie was ahead of him in the goalscoring charts and he was beginning to form a deadly alliance with Daniel Sturridge in the Reds’ attack under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. In April 2013, Chelsea visited Anfield which was Rafa Benitez’s first return to the ground since leaving his post as Liverpool manager three years earlier.

The game was finely balanced. Chelsea led 2-1 after Suarez had unnecessarily given away a penalty for handball from which Eden Hazard converted from. Minutes later, he had a clash with Branislav Ivanovic in the Liverpool penalty area as a counter-attack broke down. Ivanovic was incensed about the battle though and pointed out to the referee Kevin Friend what had happened. At first, none of us knew what he was on about. However, replays were about to reveal the extent of Suarez’s crime. Upset with the grappling on him, he decided to take a bite out of the Serbian defender. It was an appalling and disgusting piece of behaviour which was initially unseen so he went unpunished. To add insult to Chelsea’s woes, Suarez scored a late equaliser to rescue a point for his side.

Four days later, he was charged by the FA and banned for 10 matches. Liverpool stated intent to appeal against the suspension but after 48 hours withdrew on Suarez’s acceptance that he should serve the ban and learn his lesson.  He didn’t though. The same incident happened in the 2014 World Cup when he was playing for Uruguay.

He left Liverpool FC with many fantastic memories including great goals, devastating hat-tricks against Norwich City and deservedly swept the awards board in 2014 before his £75 million switch to Barcelona. However, the marks on his character will always remain with many fans.

 

Iconic Moments: ‘The Return’ ends badly for Mourinho (October 2016)

It was a relationship that looked like the perfect marriage; Chelsea and Jose Mourinho together. During his two stints in charge, Mourinho would win three Premier League titles, three League Cup trophies and the FA Cup. When the Blues’ cantered to the title in 2014-2015, it looked like a new Mourinho dynasty at Stamford Bridge was set to sweep the Premier League.

Their collapse the following season was nothing short of remarkable. The players seemed to down tools on the manager and for everything Mourinho tried, including desperation tactics, form didn’t improve. After a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City in December 2015, Mourinho admitted afterwards he felt his work was “betrayed.” The hierarchy decided the manager was to blame and sacked him three days later. At the end of the season, he was confirmed as Louis van Gaal’s successor at Manchester United.

Mourinho had always wanted to manage the Mancunian club and now here was his chance to stamp his authority on another huge global side. In October 2016, the time had come for his first domestic return to Stamford Bridge. Sky Sports billed it as “The Return.”

It would be a painful afternoon for Mourinho as he watched his side ripped to shreds by Antonio Conte’s high-energy unit. Pedro put Chelsea infront inside 30 seconds after miscommunication between Chris Smalling and David de Gea. Slack marking allowed Gary Cahill to add a second from a corner shortly afterwards. Further efforts in the second half from Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kane added to Chelsea’s glee. Their fans could rejoice in a wonderful performance and a 4-0 final scoreline. All Mourinho could do was digest this disappointment as he was on the receiving end of a bad afternoon against the fans and club that used to idolise him.

 

Premier League Rewind: 23rd-24th August 2002

Results: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United, Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle United, Birmingham City 0-1 Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Charlton Athletic, Liverpool FC 3-0 Southampton, Middlesbrough 2-2 Fulham, Sunderland 0-1 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Aston Villa, West Ham United 2-2 Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Leeds United

The second weekend of the 2002-2003 season was a strange one in terms of days when matches were played. It might have been a traditional weekend, but by Saturday evening, all 20 teams had featured and there were no Sunday/Monday matches. There were still 26 goals though in the 10 games.

The programme began with a Friday night match between two of the Premier League’s big heavyweights as Chelsea and Manchester United battled it out at Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ made the quicker start and William Gallas headed them ahead inside of three minutes. David Beckham produced a brilliant equaliser in a match where the goals scored were of the highest quality. Bolo Zenden scored a tremendous individual effort of his own on the stroke of half-time to put Chelsea back ahead. The points would ultimately be shared as Ryan Giggs scored in the second half after a thunderous United counter-attack.

Reigning champions Arsenal had an almighty scare away to West Ham United. West Ham were coming off the back of a humbling 4-0 defeat to Newcastle United in their first match of the season but looked on-track to send the Gunners’ tumbling to their first league defeat of 2002. Goals from Joe Cole and Freddie Kanoute had the Hammers’ 2-0 up and it could have been 3-0 – only for David Seaman to save Kanoute’s very weak penalty. Arsenal showed their fighting spirit to recover the deficit and leave with a draw. Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord both scored powerful efforts that nearly burst the Upton Park goal nets.

Another 2-2 game took place at the Riverside Stadium where Middlesbrough threw their game away at home to Fulham. Summer signing Massimo Maccarone scored twice on his home debut to have Steve McClaren’s side cruising to victory. Unbelievably, they gave this away in stoppage-time. Sean Davis and Facundo Sava scored to salvage an unlikely point for the Londoners. This game also got fans to see Sava’s traditional celebration for the first time – ‘The man with the mask!’

It looked like Anfield was about to welcome a new hero in the form of El-Hadji Diouf. Gerard Houllier had spent big money (£11million) to take one of the stars of the World Cup finals that summer to Merseyside. It initially looked like being a sound investment, especially after Diouf scored twice on his home debut in a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton. Danny Murphy got the third from the penalty spot. Little did LFC fans know that day that this double act from Diouf would turn out to be his most meaningful contribution in a Liverpool FC shirt.

Kevin Keegan was facing former foes in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off and beating them too. Ex-Newcastle United forward Darren Huckerby scored the only goal as Keegan’s Manchester City beat Newcastle 1-0 at Maine Road. Newcastle would have another excellent season under Sir Bobby Robson’s guidance but a terrible away record early season scuppered their title challenge. The Magpies’ won just once away from home from August to early December.

Premier League newcomers Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion were finding life tough at this level. Both lost their first home matches on this particular weekend. Birmingham fell 1-0 to Blackburn Rovers with Dwight Yorke scoring the only goal. West Brom were taken apart by a ruthless Leeds United side at The Hawthorns. The Baggies’ lost 3-1, with Lee Bowyer scoring the pick of the visitors’ goals.

Elsewhere, Charlton Athletic came from a goal down to beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 and there were 1-0 victories for Everton and Tottenham Hotspur over Sunderland and Aston Villa respectively. It said a lot for the competiveness of the Premier League that after two matches, only Liverpool FC and Leeds United could boast 100% records. Neither would play a part in the title outcome come May, so this was another example of early days where the table wasn’t taking any detailed shape.

What else happened in August 2002?

  • The UK is left shocked after the disappearance of 10-year-old Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
  • 118 soldiers are killed when a Chechen missile outside of Grozny strikes down a Russian Mi-26 helicopter.
  • Johannesburg in South Africa hosts Earth Summit 2002 with the main aim – discussing sustainable development by the UN.
  • The first series of “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here!” begins on ITV. Radio DJ Tony Blackburn will end as the winner.
  • The 2002 Commonwealth Games close in Manchester.

Great Goals: Mario Stanic – CHELSEA vs. West Ham United (August 2000)

Going into the opening day of the 2000-2001 campaign, Chelsea are on a high after dismissing Manchester United in the Charity Shield. Their first game of the season was against London rivals West Ham United.

Mario Stanic was a new summer arrival at Stamford Bridge and keen to make an impression on the home crowd. This was some way to make it. Collecting possession, the midfielder does a bit of juggling in some space, teeing the ball up perfectly to connect with the sweetest dipping volley. Shaka Hislop gets nowhere near it and the Blues have a new hero.

Chelsea won the game 4-2 but finished a slightly underwhelming sixth in the final standings thanks to a poor away record. Injuries caught up with Stanic and he was forced to retire from playing in 2004 but this is a moment Chelsea fans will never forget.

Premier League Files: Juan Mata

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2011-2014), Manchester United (2014-PRESENT)

A graduate of Real Madrid’s youth academy, Juan Mata has become one of the Premier League’s most precise players. Full of skill and panache, Mata has been a fans’ favourite at both Chelsea and Manchester United. Whilst the ultimate prize of the Premier League title has eluded this super Spaniard, Mata has become an integral part of many Fantasy Premier League squads because many can count on a fair return of goals and assists from him.

Mata started to make a name for himself in his homeland with Valencia. In August 2011, Chelsea bought him from La Liga for £28 million. On his arrival in west London, he revealed that his international teammate Fernando Torres had played a significant role in bringing him to English football. He said: “Fernando got me excited about the thought of coming here. He said it would be good for me here and that he and I together could be good.”

Getting his favourite no.10 shirt on his arrival, Mata made an immediate impression at Stamford Bridge. He scored on his debut in a home victory over Norwich City and was a shining light in an inconsistent season for the team which led to the March sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas. When Roberto di Matteo took over, he played Mata as a no.10 attacking midfielder rather than out on the left-wing. This produced even better performances. Mata won the Man of the Match award as Chelsea beat Liverpool FC in the FA Cup final and ended the campaign with 14 assists in the league and six goals. He was part of the squad that stunned Bayern Munich on Bayern’s own turf to win the UEFA Champions League. That was despite having a penalty saved in the shootout by Manuel Neuer.

His performances won him the Club’s Player of the Year award in 2011-2012. He was even better in 2012-2013. Mata was shortlisted for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, won the club’s individual prize for the second successive campaign and scored a ton of important goals. This included a late winner at Old Trafford against champions Manchester United. He added another honour to his collection with the UEFA Europa League. Unfortunately for Mata, his time at Chelsea was coming to a swifter end than he could have predicted.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival for a second spell as Chelsea manager would mean a frustrating first six months of the 2013-2014 campaign for Mata. Mourinho preferred to play the likes of Oscar and Ramires in more attacking positions as he valued their better defensive contributions. In January 2014, he moved to Manchester United for a club record fee at the time of £37.1 million.

His debut for the Red Devils’ saw an assist created for the opening goal against Cardiff City, scored by Robin van Persie. It did take Mata slightly longer to settle than he would have anticipated and two months before scoring his first goal for the club; in a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa in March. He ended with six goals at the end of the campaign.

Louis van Gaal arrived as David Moyes’ successor and it took Mata time to really establish himself at Old Trafford. The arrivals of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria put his place in doubt but towards the end of the 2014-2015 season, he had emerged as United’s creative spark. In March 2015, the club travelled to Anfield for a crucial match with Liverpool FC. The two were fighting it out for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Liverpool had the momentum following a lengthy unbeaten run. On this day, Mata was unplayable.

He ghosted past Alberto Moreno for the opening goal inside 10 minutes. His second goal was voted as the Goal of the Month for March. He produced a spectacular and fantastic bicycle kick from the edge of the area to leave Simon Mignolet stranded. The goal even got a usually unemotional van Gaal out of his seat. Manchester United won the game 2-1 and Mata has said since this was his best performance for the club.

In May 2016, he won the FA Cup for the second time in his career, scoring the equaliser in the final against Crystal Palace. Further goals in 2016-2017 followed against the likes of Watford, Arsenal and AFC Bournemouth as Mata once again proved his critics wrong and showed he could play a crucial role at the club for Jose Mourinho – the man who had so easily discarded him at Chelsea.

Great vision, many assists and plenty of skilful moments, Juan Mata has been a serial consistent player for the past six seasons and I’m sure more is to come from him in the 2017-2018 season.

Great Goals: David Luiz – Fulham vs. CHELSEA (April 2013)

Half-an-hour into the west London derby at Craven Cottage and the game between Fulham and Chelsea needs something special to ignite proceedings. Step forward the often much-maligned David Luiz.

The Brazilian has plenty of power in his game. This goal was all about power. Eden Hazard plays the ball across the pitch to Luiz, who isn’t closed down by Fulham defenders. Therefore, the Brazilian decides to try his luck. He catches the strike simply perfectly. The ball flies into the top corner past a helpless Mark Schwarzer, who would become Luiz’s teammate a season later.

Chelsea won the game 3-0 and ended the season with a European trophy under the interim guidance of Rafa Benitez.

Iconic Moments: The craziest deadline day (January 2011)

Transfer deadline day has become a nationwide event for football fans since the introduction of the August and January transfer windows from the 2002-2003 season onwards. There have been some intriguing days like Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil in August 2013 and Dimitar Berbatov’s last-gasp switch to Manchester United five seasons earlier.

But there were fewer mad days in the transfer market than the one that played out on Monday, 31 January 2011. Over £100 million was spent on three strikers, with Liverpool FC, Chelsea and Newcastle United playing the leading roles.

There was a big departure from Anfield. Star striker of the past three and a half years, Fernando Torres decided to leave the club. Days earlier, the Spaniard had handed in a transfer request which was initially rejected. Eventually, a deal was agreed that saw Torres move to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee at the time of £50 million. A lot of LFC fans were very upset by Torres’ comments in the aftermath of the deal going through. Shirts were burned outside the ground as their former idol had moved on, saying “This is the target for every footballer – to try to play for one of the top clubs in the world.” 

Although he did go on to win the silverware he craved such as the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 2012, Torres never fully settled at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool fans never really forgave him until an appearance at Steven Gerrard’s testimonial three seasons later. He is now back in Spain playing for his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid.

That wasn’t the only business conducted at Chelsea. Brazilian defender David Luiz arrived from Benfica for £26.5 million and not the end of the drama either at Liverpool. As El Nino checked out of Merseyside, the Reds were busy pulling off their own double striker swoop.

£22.8 million was paid to Ajax for the controversial but exceptionally talented Luis Suarez and £35 million was exchanged with Newcastle for Andy Carroll – a club record fee. Like Torres, the transfer fee seemed to weigh too much on Carroll. His 18-month spell was an unhappy one and he eventually moved onto West Ham United in August 2012. On the other hand, Suarez lit up Anfield with many spectacular performances. Despite racism and biting controversies which led to suspensions totalling 19 matches, his spectacular goals nearly guided the club to a Premier League title in 2014 before departing for Barcelona in a £75 million transfer.

Other moves saw Birmingham sign Obafemi Martins on-loan, Bolton add Daniel Sturridge to their ranks from Chelsea, Tuncay depart Stoke City for the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and Blackpool add four players to their relegation scrap. Charlie Adam stayed put despite a late bid from Tottenham Hotspur.

In total, Premier League clubs spent over £200 million in the 2011 January window and deadline day in this window remains the craziest and probably best window of this era of transactions in football.

Great Goals: Charlie Adam – Chelsea vs. STOKE CITY (April 2015)

Charlie Adam has always had the eye for the spectacular which goes back to his Premier League spell with Blackpool. However, his best goal was scored for his current club Stoke City against the champions from the 2014-2015 season, Chelsea.

The Blues were 1-0 up with half-time approaching when Eden Hazard was dispossessed. Jon Walters collected the ball and played it back to Adam. The Scot saw Thibaut Courtois off his goal-line and decided to try his luck from 66 yards out. He judged his effort brilliantly. Despite Courtois getting a hand to the strike, he couldn’t stop it going over him and into the back of the net. Everyone who witnessed it was stunned. It was awesome, apart from his celebration afterwards!

Stoke lost 2-1 but scored the goal of the match. Incredibly, it didn’t win Goal of the Season either but it was my favourite from the 2014-2015 campaign.

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-3 Sunderland (November 2010)

Goalscorers: Nedum Onuoha 45, Asamoah Gyan 52, Danny Welbeck 87

Teams:

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Jose Boswinga, Paulo Ferreira, Ramires (Josh McEachran 69), John Obi Mikel, Florent Malouda (Salomon Kalou 58), Yuri Zhirkov (Gael Kakuta 75), Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka

Sunderland: Craig Gordon, Phil Bardsley, Michael Turner, Kieran Richardson, Nedum Onuoha, Titus Bramble, Lee Cattermole (Cristian Riveros 90), Jordan Henderson, Bolo Zenden, Danny Welbeck (Ahmed Elmohamady 90), Asamoah Gyan (Steed Malbranque 83)

Referee: Chris Foy, Attendance: 41,072

Beginning the game two points clear of Arsenal who had won an earlier kick-off at Goodison Park, Chelsea were expected to increase their lead again against a Sunderland side that just two weeks earlier, had caved in 5-1 in the Tyne & Wear Derby against Newcastle United.

The build-up to the match though was dominated by the mysterious decision by the champions to sack their assistant manager Ray Wilkins. The post-match headlines wrote themselves. The league leaders were outplayed by a brilliant Black Cats’ display. This result remains one of Steve Bruce’s greatest successes in football management.

Chelsea might have been missing John Terry to a back injury and Frank Lampard too but their makeshift central-defence partnership of Paulo Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic couldn’t cope with the power of Asamoah Gyan and movement of on-loan striker Danny Welbeck.

Just before half-time, Sunderland took a deserved lead with an unbelievable solo goal from an unlikely source. Ivanovic, already lucky to stay on after fouling Welbeck when he was in on goal cleared the ball out to Nedum Onuoha. There didn’t look to be too much on, so the defender went on a mazy run, holding off the attentions of three defenders, before angling his shot past Petr Cech to the crowd’s astonishment. It was the first goal Chelsea had conceded at Stamford Bridge in this Premier League season.

1-0 became 2-0 shortly after the restart. Another free-flowing move involving Welbeck and Jordan Henderson ended with summer signing Gyan being played in to prod home a second goal. The home crowd were shell-shocked and this kind of performance was a sign of things to come for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

In the closing stages, Ashley Cole’s wayward backpass was intercepted by the excellent Welbeck and he finished the match off in the grand manner. It was Sunderland’s first win in a decade over Chelsea and took Bruce’s team into the top six. This defeat started a dreadful run of one win in nine matches that finished off Chelsea’s title defence and ultimately cost Ancelotti his job at the season’s conclusion.

Sunderland faded to 10th but their travelling supporters will never forget this day where they outclassed the reigning champions on their own patch.

Great Goals: Papiss Cisse – Chelsea vs. NEWCASTLE UNITED (May 2012)

Papiss Cisse had a decent goalscoring reputation with SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga. He carried this form into the early months of his Newcastle United career. Signed by the Magpies in January 2012, Cisse was electrifying and couldn’t stop scoring. His finest moment came in an away game at Chelsea in May 2012.

Having already fired a left-foot volley past Petr Cech in the 19th minute, the Senegalese international went one better in the second half. On the left-hand side in stoppage time, Cisse received the ball from Shola Ameobi and tried his luck from distance. He produced an amazing swerving shot the curled beyond the helpless Cech.

Newcastle won 2-0 and this goal took Cisse’s tally to 13 goals in 12 games. It ensured Chelsea would have to win that season’s Champions League to enter the competition in 2012-2013. Fifth is Newcastle’s best Premier League finish in the last decade.