Tag Archives: Chelsea

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-1 AFC Bournemouth (December 2015)

Goalscorers: Glenn Murray 82

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Abdul Baba Rahman (Bertrand Traore 83), Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas (Loic Remy 83), Oscar (Diego Costa 45), Willian, Eden Hazard, Pedro

AFC Bournemouth: Artur Boruc, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling, Andrew Surman, Matt Ritchie, Junior Stanislas, Josh King (Glenn Murray 80)

Referee: Mike Jones, Attendance: 41,631

Having cruised to the title in 2014-2015, Chelsea were making a real mess of their title defence. They had already suffered seven defeats and went into this game sitting in a lowly 14th place in the table, having amassed just 15 points from their first 14 matches.

Jose Mourinho’s side had at least tightened up defensively ahead of the visit of newly-promoted AFC Bournemouth. They’d gone 306 minutes without conceding in all competitions. Bournemouth had shown great resilience in coming from behind twice to take a point off Everton in their last match. However, Eddie Howe’s side were in the drop zone and without a league win since September.

Mourinho had controversially left Diego Costa out of his starting line-up for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur a week earlier and he kept the Spaniard on the bench for this one too, electing to play the out-of-form Eden Hazard in a ‘false no.9’ position. However, the home side offered very little in the first half and Costa was therefore summoned from the bench at the interval.

Bournemouth could have been ahead before half-time, as Josh King was denied on no fewer than three occasions by the returning Thibaut Courtois, who was back in the team after three months out through injury. Costa’s impact was almost immediate on his arrival. First, he narrowly missed making contact on a vicious cross from Branislav Ivanovic. Next, the temperamental Spaniard had an effort blocked by visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Then, he claimed for a penalty when his cross was blocked by the recovering Simon Francis with his arm. As it wasn’t a natural movement, his protests fell on deaf ears and Mike Jones waved play on.

Bournemouth looked comfortable throughout, driven on by Harry Arter, who was immense in central midfield. He managed to take control of the game, neutralising any dangerous threat that might have been posed by Cesc Fabregas. Sensing there might be an opportunity to take more than a point back to the south coast; Howe threw on his summer signing Glenn Murray with 10 minutes left to play. 99 seconds later, he had made the decisive impact.

Junior Stanislas produced a wonderful corner which Courtois flapped at, under pressure from Dan Gosling. Steve Cook stabbed the ball back across the face of the goal and Murray beat his teammate Charlie Daniels to the crucial contact, heading the ball into the back of the net and sending the away supporters into ecstasy. There were doubts about whether Murray was offside when he connected with Cook’s pass but the goal counted.

Bournemouth comfortably saw out the final 10 minutes to record one of the greatest results in the club’s history. They finished 16th whilst Chelsea recovered from this defeat to scrape into the top 10. However, it would be without Jose Mourinho. He was sacked less than a fortnight after this shock defeat – Chelsea’s first at home to a newly-promoted side since Charlton Athletic won in April 2001.

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Premier League Files: Mikael Forssell

Premier League Career: Chelsea (1998-1999, 2001-2002, 2005), Birmingham City (2003-2004, 2007-2008)

Still playing in his home country for HIFK Fotboll, Mikael Forssell didn’t win any major honours in the English game but he was a talented forward who knew where the back of the net was. He was an example to how fruitful the loan system can be when he scored 17 goals for Birmingham City in the 2003-2004 campaign.

Although he was born in Germany, Forssell came through the youth ranks with Finnish team HJK Helsinki and he made his professional debut for them in 1997. Just when it looked like he would continue his education in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea were quick to bring him into their team a year later. Managed at the time by Gianluca Vialli, he was the perfect mentor for Forssell to learn his trade, given Vialli’s experience at the highest level. He made his Premier League debut in January 1999 against Arsenal as a substitute and scored his first top-flight goal later that season away to Nottingham Forest.

Vialli’s expensive purchase of Chris Sutton for the 1999-2000 season pushed Forssell down the pecking order. He would go out on-loan for the next two seasons to Crystal Palace, scoring 16 league goals in just over 50 appearances. He returned to Chelsea and figured around their first-team squad in 2001-2002. Now managed by Claudio Ranieri, he featured 22 times that season and scored four Premier League goals. However, he was still largely a substitute with the likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Gianfranco Zola often selected ahead of this raw talent.

He went out on-loan again in the spring of 2003, scoring seven times for Borussia Monchengladbach in just 16 matches and keeping them clear of relegation danger. He returned to England that summer and made another temporary move, this time to Birmingham City. It was here where Forssell really sparkled. He scored 17 times in the Premier League and only Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Louis Saha and Ruud van Nistelrooy managed a higher goal tally that season. Birmingham finished in the top 10 thanks to his predatory instincts infront of goal. One criticism was his lack of team play at home to Leeds United in March 2004. Birmingham were already 3-1 up and Bryan Hughes had scored twice. When the Blues were awarded a penalty, Hughes wanted to take it to complete the first hat-trick of his club career. Regular penalty-taker Forssell was not interested and Hughes was seen storming away in frustration at not being given this opportunity. Luckily, Forssell converted the spot-kick.

He returned to Birmingham for another loan campaign in 2004-2005 but sustained a serious knee injury away at Middlesbrough in September. Steve Bruce had little choice but to cancel the loan agreement due to the lengthy spell he was going to experience on the sidelines. He returned to Chelsea to recuperate and even played a part in the club’s final home match of the season, a 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic. Although he could take part in the team’s celebrations of winning their first top-flight title in 50 years, this was his solitary league appearance for Chelsea, so he didn’t qualify for a championship-winning medal.

Jose Mourinho decided the forward did not fit into his long-term plans and when Everton withdrew from a potential deal because of concerns over his fitness, Birmingham paid Chelsea £3 million to sign him in the summer of 2005. Unfortunately, more knee problems meant he was never quite the same player that scored all those goals in his first loan season in the Midlands. He did score his first hat-trick at club level against Tottenham Hotspur in March 2008 and scored nine times in 2007-2008 but couldn’t stop Birmingham sliding to a second Premier League demise in just three campaigns.

He has since played for Hannover 96, Leeds United and VfL Bochum along with two separate spells back at HJK Helsinki. He won 87 caps for his country, scoring 29 times between 1999 and 2014.

There was talent in Mikael Forssell’s game and it is impressive to see him still playing at the age of 36 but his career could have gone better if it hadn’t been for his constant knee problems.

Premier League Files: Emmanuel Petit

Premier League Career: Arsenal (1997-2000), Chelsea (2001-2004)

Arsenal’s first Premier League title success in 1997-1998 was built around a strong defensive core unit. Whilst Arsene Wenger might have been slightly fortunate to inherit the famous Arsenal defence of Seaman, Bould, Adams, Dixon, Winterburn and Keown, his signings of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit was crucial in helping the Gunners get the better of Manchester United.

Some of Petit’s game wasn’t pretty. He would often break play up, foul players to stop counter-attacks and ensure referees got a hard time from him too. Nevertheless, he was still an excellent player whose partnership with Vieira remains one of the best central midfield combinations in Premier League history. He also was part of the French squad that won back-to-back major international competitions, scoring the third goal in the 1998 World Cup final.

Petit’s connections with Arsene Wenger went back before their link-up at Arsenal. He was signed by Wenger when just 18. Arsene was the manager of AS Monaco at the time and he would spend nine years in the Principality, appearing 222 times, scoring four goals. During his time with Monaco, he captained them to the French league title in 1997 and also played in the 1992 European Cup Winners’ Cup final when Monaco were beaten by German side SV Werder Bremen.

It was Jean Tigana who was manager when Petit won the league with Monaco and it became clear that he would move on to pastures new in the summer of 1997. Scottish champions Rangers were interested in signing him but the lure of working for Wenger again was simply too hard for Petit for ignore. He joined Arsenal for £2.5 million and Wenger immediately switched him from a box-to-box to defensive-minded player. It was a shrewd move.

Despite being red-carded in a goalless draw with Aston Villa in October 1997 for shoving referee Paul Durkin in an unsportsmanlike manner, Petit was one of Arsenal’s heroes of the season. He settled in very quickly into his new surroundings and his partnership with Vieira was a real plus point for all supporters. As the season wore on, he got stronger and stronger as Wenger’s team erased an 11-point margin in the New Year to be crowned champions at the beginning of May. Petit helped Arsenal on their way with a vital home winner from outside the area against Derby County a few days before the title crowning.

1998 was a golden year for Petit. Not only did he win the Premier League title, he also won the FA Cup and then, he played a significant contribution to France’s success on home soil in the World Cup finals. Emmanuel scored a winning goal in the group stages against Denmark, before starting and finishing a swift counter-attack in the final moments of the rather one-sided final in the Stade de France against Brazil. It had been a memorable 12 months for the Frenchman and he showed his caring side later that year when he was fortunate enough to win £17,000 worth of francs on a fruit machine in a Monte Carlo hotel and gave it all to a local charity. Later in 1998, he even played himself as a special guest in the Christmas episode of ITV police drama “The Bill,” visiting parents of a young girl who was recovering from injuries in hospital with flowers and a match ball signed by the team.

No more trophies followed at Arsenal but Petit added another six league goals to his tally, including another cracking goal against Derby County, this time in a 2-1 win at Pride Park in August 1999. He also made the PFA Team of the Year in 1998-1999. However, he moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2000 alongside his club teammate Marc Overmars in a £7 million transfer. That was after helping the French to victory at EURO 2000. His time in Spain was disappointing, as he suffered a number of frustrating injuries and he often played as a makeshift centre-back, something ‘Manu’ was never comfortable with.

After just one season with the Catalans, he returned to English football and London in the summer of 2001, joining Chelsea for £7.5 million who beat Tottenham Hotspur to his services. Petit played 55 times in the Premier League for the Blues. His best time with the club was the 2002-2003 season where he and Frank Lampard were among the core of a settled squad that finished in the top four and secured Champions League football just before Roman Abramovich came in to buy the club. There was also a rare goal away at of all places, Highbury in January 2003 although this did come in a losing cause.

The 2003-2004 campaign was one of immense disappointment for Petit. He was restricted to just four Premier League appearances all term due to a long-standing knee injury. His final appearance in Chelsea colours came in February 2004 in a 3-2 away win at Blackburn Rovers, where he set-up a goal for Lampard in the first half. He was released at the end of the season.

After turning down a summer approach from Bolton Wanderers and realising he wouldn’t return to his peak fitness levels, Petit announced his retirement from the game in January 2005, with the knee problem that was similar to the ones that ended the playing careers of Glenn Hoddle and Marco van Basten. He often appears today as an analyst on French television and is a brand ambassador for online trading broker UFX.com.

When Petit made the decision to retire, Wenger said: “He was fantastic. I feel his home is at Arsenal Football Club. We were lucky at Arsenal to have Petit at the peak of his career. He was a tremendous player.”

Most Arsenal supporters would agree with that.

Referees in the Middle: Mark Clattenburg

Premier League Career: 2004-2017

First Premier League Match: Crystal Palace 1-3 Everton (21 August 2004)

Final Premier League Match: West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Leicester City (29 April 2017)

In 2017, the Premier League bid farewell to Mark Clattenburg. The 42-year-old from County Durham accepted the opportunity to become the Head of Refereeing for the Football Federation in Saudi Arabia.

A referee since 1990, Clattenburg officiated 292 Premier League matches over a 13-year career in the English top-flight. He flashed the yellow card to players 946 times and showed nearly 50 red cards but his controlling influence on matches made him one of the regulars in some of the league’s most tempestuous and key fixtures. The peak of his career came in 2016, when he took charge of the FA Cup final, UEFA Champions League final and the European Championships final in a space of a few weeks.

He took up refereeing through the rewarding Duke of Edinburgh scheme and three years later, became an assistant referee in the Northern League. He made the National List of Football League refs in 2000 and his first match came that year as Chesterfield beat York City 4-1 in a Division Two clash. He was just 25 at this appointment, breaking several post-war records.

Clattenburg spent the next four years plying his trade in the Football League, often called in to take charge of crucial semi-finals in the play-offs. He was the man in the middle for the 2004 Third Division play-off final between Huddersfield Town and Mansfield Town and was promoted to the Select Group of officials later that year.

In August 2004, Mark was given his first Premier League appointment as Everton won 3-1 away at Crystal Palace, awarding the visitors a penalty in this match which was converted by Thomas Gravesen. His first difficult moment came five months later when Tottenham Hotspur were denied a late win at Old Trafford. Pedro Mendes’ goal-bound effort from distance was dropped over the goal-line by Roy Carroll but wasn’t spotted by the linesman. Clattenburg was in a poor position, so couldn’t award the goal as he wasn’t 100% sure it had crossed the line.

He became a FIFA referee in 2006 and even took charge of a testimonial match for Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer on his retirement from playing. His allegiance towards the Magpies’ means he has never refereed a competitive match involving Newcastle United.

Clattenburg has shown the red card over the years on nearly 50 occasions. Some of his key dismissals include:

  • His first red card came on his Premier League debut, with Gary Naysmith dismissed for dragging back Wayne Routledge in Everton’s 3-1 win at Crystal Palace in August 2004.
  • Everton were on the receiving end in a Merseyside Derby in October 2007 – losing Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville to red cards in a 2-1 loss to Liverpool FC at Goodison Park. David Moyes said afterwards: “The referee has had a very bad day at the office!”
  • Sent off Manchester City defender Dedryck Boyata just four minutes into a clash with Arsenal in October 2010 for a professional foul. Arsenal win the match 3-0.
  • Jonny Evans was dismissed in the Manchester Derby of October 2011 for hauling down Mario Balotelli in a goalscoring opportunity. Manchester City take full advantage to beat their local rivals 6-1 at Old Trafford.
  • Dismissed West Bromwich Albion full-back Goran Popov for spitting during a home match with Tottenham Hotspur in February 2013.
  • Awarded Liverpool FC three penalties at Old Trafford in March 2014 and sends Nemanja Vidic off in LFC’s 3-0 win over the reigning champions.
  • Gave two penalties to Leicester City and sends off Manchester United youngster Tyler Blackett during an eight-goal contest between the teams in September 2014.
  • Per Mertesacker saw red in January 2016 as Chelsea win 1-0 at The Emirates Stadium to complete a league double over Arsenal.

In 2008, Clattenburg was appointed as referee for the FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Portsmouth but this was later given to Peter Walton after an investigation that led to him missing the majority of the 2008-2009 campaign. He was suspended during the investigation which was looking into alleged debts incurred by companies with which he was connected to. Citing a breach of contract, the referees’ governing body dismissed Clattenburg but he appealed the decision, denying any wrongdoing. The PGMOB reinstated him in February 2009 but back-dated his suspension to eight months meaning he took charge of just one Premier League match all season, the final day encounter at The Etihad Stadium between Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers.

He re-established his integrity over the next four seasons, earning the 2012 League Cup final for his rewards and also, took charge of the men’s football final at the 2012 London Olympics when gold medal favourites Brazil were humbled by Mexico 2-1 at Wembley Stadium. Controversy was never that far away though for Mark.

In October 2012, Manchester United ended Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the domestic season, winning 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Clattenburg sent off Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres during the match and also allowed United’s winner to stand even though Javier Hernandez was clearly in an offside position. After the game, Chelsea accused him of using racist language towards their Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel when he was booked.

The FA took him out of the firing line for a month but cleared him of any wrongdoing nine days after the fixture in west London and charged Mikel with using “threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour” towards Clattenburg after the match. Mikel was found guilty and received a three-match ban and a £60,000 fine.

In a statement afterwards, he said: “I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.”

2016 was Mark’s big break. First, he was appointed to the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium between Crystal Palace and Manchester United. He sent Chris Smalling off in extra-time but Louis van Gaal’s side still prevailed to win 2-1. A week later, he was in Milan to officiate the biggest game in European club football, the final of the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid played city rivals Atletico Madrid and won 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Then, he went to France as one of the English officials at the 2016 European Championships. He was given the showpiece final gig which saw hosts France shocked 1-0 by Portugal, again after an extra-time conclusion.

Never one to accept the appointments quietly, he had the logos of the UEFA Champions League and the 2016 UEFA Euros tattooed on his arm to remember the final of the two competitions that he officiated in a few months later.

In February 2017, it was confirmed that he was to leave his post as a Premier League official to educate younger referees in Saudi Arabia. Replacing another huge figure in Howard Webb, the PGMOL said in a statement: “Mark is a talented referee; he has been a great asset to the English game and hopefully an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing at the grassroots of the game.

His final top-flight match in this country was a fairly uneventful Midlands Derby in April 2017 between West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City which Leicester won 1-0 thanks to a Jamie Vardy goal. Even though he isn’t in the middle in England, he has still made headlines recently from infidelity allegations about his love life to admitting that he let Tottenham Hotspur self-destruct at Stamford Bridge in May 2016 on the night where their 2-2 draw handed the title to 5000-1 outsiders Leicester City.

However, he is one of the best referees we’ve seen in the Premier League and his achievements in the game can’t be ignored despite some of the controversy.

Great Goals: Eden Hazard – CHELSEA vs. Arsenal (February 2017)

Chelsea met Arsenal in February 2017 in a game that had been billed as Arsenal’s last chance to stop their fellow Londoners heading towards a fifth Premier League title. It was a match that required a bit of brilliance and Eden Hazard certainly provided it with one of my personal favourite goals from the 2016-2017 campaign.

The hosts were already 1-0 ahead when this moment occurred. Receiving possession from a Diego Costa header, Hazard evaded an early Laurent Koscielny challenge before holding off Francis Coquelin. Coquelin did his best to foul the Belgian but failed in his efforts to bring him down as Hazard showed his strength to brush the defensive midfielder to the ground. He then took on Koscielny again, turned him inside out and then produced a deft finish past former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. It was a stunning solo effort and Hazard at his world-class best.

Chelsea won the game 3-1 and would go onto win the title whilst Arsenal’s away slump following this result would cost them a shot at finishing in the top four at the end of the campaign.

Premier League Rewind: 7th-8th February 2009

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

Going into this February weekend in the 2008-2009 season, only five points covered the top four teams. Manchester United held a two-point lead over Liverpool FC and crucially had a game in hand too. Despite having lost two of their last four matches, Chelsea were still in contention and Aston Villa’s best run for several seasons meant they couldn’t be fully discounted from the title picture.

The weekend’s matches began at The Etihad Stadium and there was more misery for Gareth Southgate and his Middlesbrough side. They were beaten 1-0 by mid-table Manchester City with Craig Bellamy scoring his second goal for his new club since joining from West Ham United. Middlesbrough had only scored one goal now in their last six matches and their Premier League status looked in severe jeopardy.

In the 3pm kick-offs, most attention was focused on Chelsea who looked to close the gap on the top two. However, they suffered a damaging blow to their title hopes after an unconvincing display at home to Hull City which saw the teams play out a goalless draw. At the full-time whistle, boos from the home crowd were notable and banners were hurled out by frustrated fans, calling for manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to be sacked. Two days later, the supporters got their wish as Roman Abramovich parted company with the Brazilian former World Cup winning manager. Chelsea were now looking for their third manager since Jose Mourinho’s abrupt departure 17 months earlier.

Their slip-up allowed Aston Villa to capitalise. They won 2-0 away at Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of goals from James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor. This meant they had achieved a club record of seven away victories on the trot and moved Martin O’Neill’s side into third place. They were now genuine contenders for a UEFA Champions League spot at the end of the season.

Blackburn remained in the drop zone, where they were joined by Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion. Albion lost 3-2 at home to Newcastle United but Newcastle’s victory was without their manager. Joe Kinnear had been taken to hospital before kick-off and health problems meant he would have to vacate his position. Assistant manager Chris Hughton would take caretaker charge. Peter Lovenkrands scored his first goal for the club in this five-goal contest.

With Manchester United not playing until the Sunday, Liverpool FC had the chance to go top of the table for a few hours at least. They did it the hard way away to Portsmouth but got the job done. Fernando Torres came off the bench to score a last-minute winner as Rafa Benitez’s side won 3-2, despite trailing twice in the game at Fratton Park. The result left Pompey just four points clear of trouble and they decided to wield the axe on Tony Adams as manager, only a few hours before Scolari’s departure from Chelsea was confirmed.

So, could Manchester United respond? A question was asked and once again, it was responded in style. Ryan Giggs scored his first goal of the season and it was a fine individual effort too to breakdown West Ham United’s resolve at Upton Park. United won 1-0, as they continued their winning run. They hadn’t dropped a single point since returning from FIFA World Club Championship duty in mid-December.

Elsewhere, the North London derby ended in a goalless draw. For Arsenal, it started a worrying run of four successive 0-0 draws which almost cost them a top-four finish.

What else happened in February 2009?

  • ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ wins 15 awards combined at the BAFTAs and Oscars, including Best Director for Danny Boyle and Best Film.
  • Duffy is the big winner at the BRIT Awards, scooping three gongs, including the MasterCard Album of the Year for ‘Rockferry.’
  • UK unemployment reaches 1.97 million.
  • Many parts of the UK experienced heavy snowfall at the start of the month, causing plenty of travel disruption and the closure of many schools for the best part of a week.
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown suspends PMQs at the end of February for the first time since 1994, following the tragic death of David Cameron’s six-year old son, Ivan.
  • Boxing champion Joe Calzaghe retired after 46 fights. He remained undefeated throughout a 15-year career.
  • ITV was forced to apologise after millions of TV viewers missed Dan Gosling’s extra-time winner in the FA Cup fourth-round replay between Everton and Liverpool FC. The gaffe saw an advert for Tic-Tac mints shown instead!

Great Goals: Gus Poyet – CHELSEA vs. Sunderland (August 1999)

Gus Poyet would become a Premier League manager with Sunderland from October 2013 to March 2015. He scored one of his finest goals against the Black Cats from his Chelsea days.

The Uruguayan was something of a cult hero during his four seasons at Stamford Bridge and came up with a glut of crucial goals, including the one to defeat the mighty Real Madrid in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup final.

On the opening weekend of the 1999-2000 campaign, the Blues welcomed Sunderland to their lair and dismissed their opponents 4-0. Poyet scored the goal of the match. Gianfranco Zola received possession from a long ball and as the Italian took it under control and assessed his options, Poyet made a run from midfield into the box.

He got between the two Sunderland defenders and met Zola’s pass with brilliant timing. His volley left Thomas Sorensen without a hope of saving it. Poyet scored 49 goals in his Chelsea career. This was quite probably his best.

Shock Results: Chelsea 0-1 Queens Park Rangers (January 2013)

Goalscorer: Shaun Wright-Phillips 78

Teams:

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ryan Bertrand, Frank Lampard (Ramires 79), David Luiz, Marko Marin (Eden Hazard 60), Victor Moses (Juan Mata 75), Oscar, Fernando Torres

Queens Park Rangers: Julio Cesar, Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen, Fabio, Nedum Onuoha, Shaun Derry, Stephane Mbia, Esteban Granero (Ji-Sung Park 90), Junior Hoilett (Shaun Wright-Phillips 15), Adel Taarabt (Kieron Dyer 90), Jamie Mackie

Referee: Lee Mason, Attendance: 41,634

Queens Park Rangers arrived at Stamford Bridge in January 2013 desperate for a victory. Harry Redknapp’s side had only won one game in the Premier League all campaign and were propping up the division. No-one gave them much hope against a Chelsea side that had won its last four league matches and put eight goals past Aston Villa in their last match in west London.

The visitors’ were given a boost when Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez made five changes to the side that beat Everton a few days earlier. The likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were rotated to the bench and in came Marko Marin and Ryan Bertrand. Marin was making his first Premier League start of the season but a fourth minute booking set the tone for his poor evening. Benitez realised his mistake in resting Hazard and brought him on with half an hour left to play. However, Chelsea still struggled to create chances against a visiting backline that was defending very well.

Without Hazard and Mata, Chelsea lacked the creative spark, meaning Fernando Torres was relying on scraps. With the visitors’ more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, it meant the first 45 minutes was a tame and fairly mundane affair. With the home crowd starting to pile the pressure on the reigning European champions, Chelsea began to take control in the second half. First, Branislav Ivanovic sent a header over the crossbar from Marin’s cross – his only valuable contribution to the evening’s entertainment.

Next, Torres got his big opportunity but this wasn’t the same Torres that has frightened defences across Europe during his Liverpool FC days. The Spaniard was played in through a deflected David Luiz shot but 10 yards out, could only drill his effort straight at the former Inter Milan shot-stopper Julio Cesar. Chelsea thought they’d taken the lead in the 65th minute when Lampard found the back of the net after fine work from Victor Moses. However, the celebrations were put on hold by the linesman’s flag, who had judged Lampard to be fractionally offside.

QPR had barely threatened all evening but with 12 minutes left, they took a shock lead. After a corner was cleared at the near post, Adel Taarabt laid the ball on for Shaun Wright-Phillips to strike. The ex-Chelsea midfielder caught the ball sweetly and his shot flew into the net from the edge of the penalty area. It was a sweet moment for Wright-Phillips who only arrived into the game as a 15th minute substitute after Junior Hoillett went off injured.

It was QPR’s first top-flight success at Stamford Bridge in 34 years and their first Premier League London derby away win since March 1995 when Wimbledon were beaten 3-1 at Selhurst Park. QPR remained bottom of the table and would only win two more matches as they were duly relegated. Chelsea recovered from this disappointing setback to finish third and win in the UEFA Europa League before Benitez handed the reins over to Jose Mourinho for a second spell as Blues manager.

Great Goals: Michael Essien – CHELSEA vs. Arsenal (December 2006)

All-action Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien would score 25 goals for Chelsea in all competitions. This was one of his finest to drag Chelsea level in this London derby in December 2006.

Jose Mourinho had never lost to Arsene Wenger in his management career at this point but with seven minutes left, this looked like a distinct possibility. Mathieu Flamini had given Arsenal the lead.

Step forward Essien to rescue a point for the reigning champions. Arjen Robben and Frank Lampard are involved in the build-up to this goal but the strike is all about Essien’s power in the shot. The ball actually starts slightly outside the post on its journey, before swerving inside and giving Jens Lehmann not a hope of saving. It was a shot of cracking quality from a player who was an important figure in the Chelsea squads that won two Premier League titles in 2006 and 2010.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea (April 2005)

Goalscorer: Frank Lampard 60, 76

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Vincent Candela (Radhi Jaidi 77), Fernando Hierro, Bruno N’Gotty, Ricardo Gardner, Stelios Giannakopoulos (Henrik Pedersen 63), Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha (Kevin Nolan 63), Kevin Davies, El-Hadji Diouf

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Geremi, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, William Gallas, Claude Makelele (Alexei Smertin 90), Jiri Jarosik, Tiago, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba (Robert Huth 65), Eidur Gudjohnsen (Joe Cole 85)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 27,653

April 30th 2005 will be a date that Chelsea supporters will never forget. It was the day when their 50-year wait for being crowned champions of England would end. Only a defeat at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium would delay their crowning as the kings of English football.

Chelsea had been outstanding all season. Coming into this match, Jose Mourinho’s side had only lost once all campaign in the league and had sprinted clear from their nearest pursuers, reigning champions Arsenal and Manchester United. Bolton weren’t going to roll over though. They were looking good for a top-six finish and with it, the prize of European football next season. They’d also come back from 2-0 down to grab a point at Stamford Bridge in November.

The first half was a cagey affair with few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. It seemed like the nerves had hit the Chelsea players and it was the home side who missed the best chance of a goalless first 45 minutes. Kevin Davies headed straight into Petr Cech’s midriff when he was given a free header in the penalty area.

Fittingly, it was one of Chelsea’s stars of the season who produced the seminal moment. Frank Lampard broke into the penalty area and fired Chelsea into the lead just before the hour mark with another emphatic finish. Bolton thought Jiri Jarosik had fouled Fernando Hierro in the build-up to the goal but their protests fell on deaf ears. The title loomed large for the west Londoners.

There were still some scares though. Gary Speed’s long throw-in saw Geremi almost score a spectacular own goal. The Cameroonian, playing in an unfamiliar full-back role leapt to reach Speed’s throw-in but rather than clear the ball, he forced Cech into an impressive reflex save.

With 15 minutes remaining, the game was still in the balance. Chelsea needed another goal to be sure of their success and it was Lampard who sealed the coronation. A Bolton attack broke down from their corner and Claude Makelele played a delicious pass into the feet of Lampard. With Wanderers defenders stranded up pitch, Lampard bared down on-goal. He had Ricardo Carvalho alongside him but he was never going to pass to the Portuguese defender. Lampard rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, sent the ball into the empty net and the celebrations could properly begin. Chelsea were champions and they were going to tell the world about it.

The Blues became only the fourth side in the Premier League era after Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal to win the title and this came in just Roman Abramovich’s second season of owning the club. In 2004-2005, Mourinho was definitely the “Special One.” Chelsea would win the League Cup too and finished with a record-high points tally in Premier League history. They collected the trophy a week later after a breathtaking campaign by the Londoners.

The Managers: Claudio Ranieri

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2000-2004), Leicester City (2015-2017)

On Friday 14th November 2014, Claudio Ranieri’s management career looked all but over. After 28 years in football management, he had just experienced his most embarrassing evening in the game. The tiny Faroe Islands had just beaten his Greece side 1-0 through a Joan Edmundsson strike. At the time, the Faroes were ranked 187 in the world. With one point from four games, Greece’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were all but over. A day later, Ranieri was fired.

Eight months after the Greek nightmare, he was appointed Leicester City manager to the surprise of many, who even mocked the appointment. On Tuesday 3rd May 2016, Ranieri had completed the impossible dream, taking 5000-1 outsiders Leicester to the Premier League title in the greatest story ever told in English football.

The Leicester adventure was cruelly ended less than a year later but Ranieri has won many friends for life thanks to his achievements at the King Power Stadium.

Experience counts

Claudio Ranieri began his managerial career in his homeland during the late 1980s, making his name at Cagliari whom he achieved back-to-back promotions with on a shoestring budget.

Outside of English football, he has managed many of the top clubs in the European game, though his success in terms of honours was limited mainly to cup triumphs. He won the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina in 1996 and the Copa del Rey in 1998 as manager of Valencia. The only titles he achieved were in the second-tier with Fiorentina in 1994 and AS Monaco 19 years later.

Actually, his best win rate ratio came at AS Roma, winning 55.5% of matches during his reign there from September 2009 to February 2011. However, silverware eluded him at the Stadio Olimpico at a time where Inter Milan was the dominant club in Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League under the guidance of a certain Jose Mourinho.

Ranieri has also managed Atletico Madrid, Parma, Juventus and Inter Milan in his career.

‘The Tinkerman’

He was appointed manager of Chelsea in September 2000, succeeding Gianluca Vialli. His first match in charge saw the out-of-form Blues’ recover from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at Old Trafford with reigning champions Manchester United. He arrived with only limited English language capabilities so communication in the early months between him and the players wasn’t the most free-flowing.

In the summer of 2001, he started to reshape the squad, bringing in the likes of Frank Lampard, Emmanuel Petit and Bolo Zenden, spending over £30 million on new talent for the men from Stamford Bridge. There were some eye-catching results, including a 3-0 away win at Manchester United and 4-0 humbling of Liverpool FC at home but also, shock defeats at home to Southampton and away at Charlton Athletic. Chelsea also lost 5-1 at White Hart Lane in a League Cup semi-final to Tottenham Hotspur. A second successive sixth place finish wasn’t what the club were hoping for. He did take Chelsea to the FA Cup final but even that ended in disappointment, losing 2-0 to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.

During his reign in west London, Ranieri was given the nickname ‘The Tinkerman.’ His team selections were at times baffling and inconsistent. Frank Lampard seemed to be the only definite selection on a weekly basis. He had to make the most of his options in 2002-2003. Only one signing was made all season and that was Enrique de Lucas on a free transfer from Espanyol. The club were in financial peril, yet Ranieri achieved UEFA Champions League qualification on the final day of the season. A 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC was enough to earn Chelsea a fourth place finish. It set the Blues up for the financial bounty they were about to receive that summer.

On borrowed time

In July 2003, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club and things were changing. Chelsea went on a summer spending spree not seen before in the history of football, shocking pundits, journalists and supporters alike.

Ranieri now had a wealth of options at his disposal. He also was on borrowed time. There was constant speculation that his job was now up for grabs and being touted to the likes of England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. He had to do well in 2003-2004 or face the consequences.

He guided Chelsea to a runners-up position with a Premier League highest points tally for the club and the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. However, that wasn’t deemed good enough by Abramovich and he made a tearful goodbye on the final day of the season to the Stamford Bridge faithful, who really had taken Claudio to their hearts. He was sacked two weeks later and replaced by the FC Porto boss Mourinho.

The impossible dream

Ranieri was quick to accept his mistake in taking the Greece post following the 2014 World Cup. Shortly after being confirmed as Nigel Pearson’s successor at the King Power Stadium, he gave an interview to the Leicester Mercury where he admitted he’d made a bad move.

“I made a mistake when I was manager of Greece. I wanted to look because it is a different job at a club to a national team. I had four matches and for each game I trained the players for just three days. That is 12 days of training. What can I do in just 12 days? I had to rebuild a national team in just 12 days. What could I do? I am not a magician.”

His aim was simple; for Leicester City to claim one more point than they’d managed the previous season. New arrivals included Gokhan Inler, Christian Fuchs and most importantly, N’Golo Kante. Leicester started the season with three wins and three draws in their opening six matches which included a thrilling comeback win over Aston Villa.

The fear was Ranieri would repeat his ‘Tinkerman’ approach from the Chelsea days at Leicester too, but in fact, their team selection was so consistent with the fewest starting XI changes in the league in 2015-2016. His decision to change the full-backs early season worked. Ritchie de Laet and Jeff Schlupp began the campaign but the 5-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the end of September exposed a brutal weakness. From October, into the team came Danny Simpson and Fuchs. Simpson had been discarded by Queens Park Rangers and Fuchs shown the door by FC Schalke 04. Their consistent performances made them two of the club’s unsung heroes.

Even when Ranieri was forced into changes, he came up smiling. When Jamie Vardy was banned following his dismissal against West Ham United in April 2016, Ranieri changed tactic by bringing Schlupp into the team to counteract the pace he would lose from Vardy against Swansea City. Leicester won the game 4-0 and Schlupp was one of the star players on the day.

Even Claudio’s substitutions often worked. Leonardo Ulloa, Andy King, Nathan Dyer and Demarai Gray were often used from the bench. None of them complained. They did the job asked of them and were a full part of this team spirit ethic. Ulloa scored most of his goals from the bench, whilst Dyer’s home debut goal against Aston Villa wasn’t overlooked.

Leicester topped the table on Christmas Day and continued to defy the critics who were expecting the bubble to burst. In February, they went to title favourites Manchester City and blew them away, winning 3-1 and becoming the new team to beat with the bookmakers. This was the day people started to believe that it was their destiny to win the championship.

They entered April on top of the table and secured UEFA Champions League qualification with an away win at Sunderland. Tottenham Hotspur did put the pressure on but their 2-2 draw away at outgoing champions Chelsea handed the title to Leicester City. It was the first time in their 132-year history that they’d won the top-flight title in what has to be considered as one of football’s most incredible stories in our lifetime. Ranieri proved that nice guys do win and that is a rare commodity.

A sorry sequel

The summer of 2016 was always going to be crucial for Leicester. They managed to hold onto the services of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez but Kante did leave for Chelsea. The challenge was great and whilst it was going to be almost impossible to repeat the title triumph, no-one could have forecasted the disastrous sequel after the fairytale moment.

By the end of November, Leicester had lost six times already, picked up just one point away from the King Power Stadium and were only sitting two points above the drop zone. It seemed like the players had stopped playing for the manager, especially after pitiful displays away at Southampton and Swansea City in the first two months of 2017.

Just 24 hours after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie, Ranieri was sacked by Leicester’s owners. The decision was brutal, seen as a savage call by the majority of people within the game. The players were accused of getting the manager sacked. A lot of love the club had gained in the title-winning season seemed to have been lost. Ironically, Leicester won their next five Premier League matches in a row and reached the Champions League quarter-finals after the Italian’s departure.

Ranieri is now in charge of French club Nantes and has guided them into a top six position at the halfway point of the current campaign in Ligue 1.

Claudio Ranieri won many hearts for his achievements first at Chelsea and then for the miracle at Leicester. He was hailed as ‘King Claudio’ after guiding the 5000-1 outsiders to the title in 2015-2016 and the Premier League success he enjoyed couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Premier League Files: Andy Townsend

Premier League Career: Chelsea (1992-1993), Aston Villa (1993-1997), Middlesbrough (1998-1999)

Andy Townsend spent nearly 20 years playing and has forged a successful career as a co-commentator since his retirement from football in the year 2000. His most successful stint was with Aston Villa, captaining them to League Cup victory in 1996.

Andy began his playing career in the regional leagues. It all began in the Athenian League with Welling United in August 1980. Whilst that was the weekend job, the weekday role was working for Greenwich Borough Council as a computer operator.

It was professional football though that Townsend chased and he made his pro debut with Southampton in April 1985, having been signed for a paltry £35,000 by Lawrie McMenemy. His debut would come against Aston Villa and these two clubs would have another significant link in his career 11 years later.

He enjoyed a challenge, was a real grafter in the centre of midfield and could pop up with the occasional goal too. Southampton sold him to Norwich City in August 1988 for £300,000 and the 1988-1989 was the best individual season of Andy’s career. The Canaries reached the FA Cup semi-finals, finished fourth in the First Division and he was nominated for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award which was eventually won by Manchester United forward Mark Hughes.

He would represent the Republic of Ireland at international level and played a telling role in their fabulous run to the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup, scoring in the penalty shootout victory over Romania in Genoa. As with many Norwich players after him, Townsend was cashed in just weeks later with Chelsea paying £1.2 million pounds. Although his individual performances continued to impress, the Blues’ finished no higher than 11th in the table during Andy’s three seasons in west London.

He moved to Aston Villa in the summer of 1993 and was part of the Villa squad that beat Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup final; the only silverware that the Red Devils’ didn’t win in the 1993-1994 season. He would skipper the side in 1996 to another final win over Leeds United. These two League Cup winners’ medals were the only major honours of Townsend’s professional career. In December 1996, Townsend scored the winning goal for Villa at The Dell against Southampton which was also the Premier League’s 5000th goal.

After 134 Premier League appearances for the Villans and eight goals, Townsend dropped down a division to join Bryan Robson’s Middlesbrough in September 1997. He helped them win promotion back to the top-flight at the first attempt, then made 37 appearances in 1998-1999 was Boro finished a solid ninth in the table. He also formed an impressive partnership with Paul Gascoigne on Teeside and the pair became close friends during their time together at the Riverside Stadium.

Despite interest from his former club Norwich, Townsend returned to the Midlands in September 1999 to finish his playing days at West Bromwich Albion. He retired in July 2000 due to a recurrent knee injury and turned down Gary Megson’s offer for a coaching role with the reserves’ to go into the media.

Townsend became ITV’s main co-commentator after Ron Atkinson’s departure in April 2004 and remained with the network for a decade. He left in 2015 and now works for BT Sport, alongside a consultancy role with Championship returnees Bolton Wanderers. His voice has also been used on many of EA Sports FIFA games alongside former ITV colleague Clive Tydlesey.

He wasn’t the most skilful but wouldn’t give anyone an inch. Andy Townsend was a useful and committed footballer during his career and a wise-head in the media industry nowadays.