Tag Archives: Chelsea

Premier League Rewind: 19th-20th August 2000

Results: Charlton Athletic 4-0 Manchester City, Chelsea 4-2 West Ham United, Coventry City 1-3 Middlesbrough, Derby County 2-2 Southampton, Leeds United 2-0 Everton, Leicester City 0-0 Aston Villa, Liverpool FC 1-0 Bradford City, Sunderland 1-0 Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Ipswich Town, Manchester United 2-0 Newcastle United

After France’s success at the 2000 European Championships which made them back-to-back major international winners, football fans only had to wait approximately six weeks before domestic action returned. The 2000-2001 Premier League season began in August sunshine with some great goals, impressive displays and stormy battles.

The stormy battle came at Sunderland where Arsenal came a cropper on the opening day. Niall Quinn scored the only goal of the game. His header – a typical trademark effort from the big striker after 53 minutes helped the Black Cats record an impressive 1-0 victory over the previous season’s runners-up. However, the flashpoint came towards the end of the match as referee Steve Dunn gave Patrick Vieira the latest red card in his English career. An altercation with Darren Williams saw the Frenchman receive his marching orders. Arsene Wenger defended his volatile midfielder, speaking afterwards: “Patrick Vieira has tried to play football today and some other players have not tried, and in the end, he is sent off because he had a bad reaction.”

Many people were tipping Chelsea to be Manchester United’s strongest challengers and the Blues had just beaten United comfortably in the Charity Shield curtain-raiser a week earlier. Chelsea continued the good form on day one with a spectacular 4-2 home victory over West Ham United. After a year in Spain with Atletico Madrid, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink returned to English football and made a goalscoring return but his efforts were overshadowed by a wonderful goal from fellow debutant Mario Stanic, who scored twice on the day. The positive vibes though wouldn’t last long for Chelsea and their manager Gianluca Vialli. He was sacked less than a month later.

After losing on the final day of the previous campaign to Bradford City which meant they missed out on UEFA Champions League football for 2000-2001, Liverpool FC extracted some form of revenge with a nervy 1-0 success against the Bantams at Anfield. Beginning his first full season after his £11 million move in March from Leicester City, Emile Heskey scored the only goal of the game as the Reds began their momentous season in winning fashion.

Reigning champions Manchester United made a business-like start to their title defence. The biggest surprise of their routine 2-0 home win against Newcastle United was the first goal of the Old Trafford season came from centre-back Ronny Johnsen. A more familiar scorer in the shape of Andy Cole got the second as he haunted his old club yet again. Cole had now scored seven goals in his last four appearances against the Magpies.

The top two from the previous season in the First Division met on day one at The Valley and the tone for their respective campaigns was set from the outset. Charlton Athletic brushed aside Manchester City 4-0 thanks to goals from Andy Hunt, John Robinson, Mark Kinsella and Graham Stuart. This was despite missing five first-choice attacking players. The Addicks were set for a campaign safely in mid-table whilst Joe Royle was given plenty to think about after seeing his side pulled apart convincingly in the capital.

Elsewhere, Mark Venus had the honour of scoring the first goal of the season after only nine minutes at White Hart Lane. However, it wasn’t enough for Ipswich to get anything at Tottenham, as they eventually lost 3-1 and Leeds United began their season with a 2-0 triumph over Everton. Both goals came in the first half from Alan Smith.

What else happened in August 2000?

  • The Queen Mother celebrates her 100th birthday.
  • English actor Sir Alec Guinness dies from liver cancer, aged 86.
  • The Democratic party in America nominate the current US vice-president, Al Gore, as their candidate for US president at the November election during their convention in Los Angeles.
  • In one of the largest Russian naval exercises since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian submarine Kursk sinks in the Barents Sea. All 118 men on-board drown.
  • Nintendo announce their plans for their latest games console to take on Sony with the GameCube set to come out by the end of 2002.
  • One of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows makes its debut on their TV channel with Dora the Explorer launching.

 

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Memorable Matches: Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal (October 2011)

Goalscorers: Frank Lampard 14, Robin van Persie 36, 85, 90, John Terry 45, Andre Santos 49, Theo Walcott 55, Juan Mata 80

Teams:

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa, Ashley Cole, John Terry, John Obi Mikel (Raul Meireles 76), Ramires (Romelu Lukaku 72), Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge (Florent Malouda 62), Fernando Torres

Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou (Carl Jenkinson 76), Mikel Arteta, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott (Tomas Rosicky 79), Gervinho (Thomas Vermaelen 88), Robin van Persie

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 41,801

Chelsea and Arsenal have played out some brilliant encounters during the Premier League era and this meeting at Stamford Bridge in October 2011 must definitely rank among the best. It was a crazy match where attacking instincts were rewarded and defensive frailties for both teams were exposed.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side were coming off the back of a damaging 1-0 defeat a week earlier to Queens Park Rangers which saw Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba sent off, whilst John Terry had been accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Despite the off-field distractions, it was the Blues who struck first on 14 minutes. From Juan Mata’s great cross, Frank Lampard made one of his trademark runs into the box and he placed a header past Wojciech Szczesny.

Lampard nearly grabbed an assist soon afterwards when his tremendous ball picked out Daniel Sturridge. Unfortunately for Lampard, Sturridge horribly sliced his effort wide of the post. Arsenal had already missed a couple of great opportunities but finally took one of their chances nine minutes before the interval. Aaron Ramsey’s defence-splitting pass opened up the hosts’ backline and Gervinho squared the ball for his skipper, Robin van Persie to tap home.

Sturridge had a goal disallowed for offside before Chelsea regained their lead before half-time. Arsenal’s weakness all season had been defending from set-pieces and they conceded yet again from this situation. Lampard’s corner was bundled into the back of the net by Terry who escaped some suspect marking from the Gunners. After his testing week, it was a nice way for him to end it in a positive manner.

The fast-paced nature of this match continued after the break as Arsenal turned the game around in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. First, left-back Andre Santos scored before the brilliant Theo Walcott escaped the attentions of Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic and recovering from a slight stumble, he drilled a shot inside Petr Cech’s defences at his near post.

In-between this, Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny charged out of his goal and hacked down Ashley Cole. The covering defenders meant referee Andre Marriner opted to take the yellow card option after advice from his assistants. A grandstand finish was set-up when Mata levelled the scores at 3-3 with 10 minutes to go with a brilliant strike from distance although Arsene Wenger was furious, feeling Santos had been fouled in the build-up by substitute Romelu Lukaku.

Then, the crucial moment came with five minutes left. Terry slipped, allowing Van Persie to race clear. The Dutchman rounded Cech and put the ball into a gaping goal to score his second of the afternoon. In the 89th minute, he completed a marvellous hat-trick, flashing a shot past Cech after being played in by Mikel Arteta.

This was Arsenal’s first away victory of the season and a memorable victory for the Gunners. Van Persie took his tally to 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011 and he finished as the league’s top goalscorer in what proved to be his last season in an Arsenal jersey.

Iconic Moments: Torres’ first Chelsea goal (April 2011)

With Chelsea struggling to retain their Premier League title in 2010-2011 and looking at risk to even qualify for the UEFA Champions League via their league position, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich sanctioned the transfer of Fernando Torres. Torres had been Liverpool FC’s star striker for the past three-and-a-half years but his form had dipped in the six months before his transfer to Stamford Bridge.

On transfer deadline day in January 2011, Chelsea paid Liverpool £50 million for Torres and broke the British transfer record in the process. His debut came six days later against the club he’d just left and he didn’t play well and had been subbed before Raul Meireles scored the only goal of the game for the Reds.

Torres looked a pale shadow of the player who had tormented English and European defenders during his time on Merseyside. By the time Chelsea hosted West Ham United in late April 2011, Torres was still looking for his first Blues goal. Defender David Luiz, who had also been a January arrival had already found the net twice as a Chelsea player.

Against the Hammers, the moment finally came for Torres. The Spaniard came off the bench to score the second goal of Chelsea’s three on the evening on his 14th outing for his new employers. It ended a drought of 903 minutes without finding the target for both club and country since his last Liverpool goal in a 3-0 away victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers in January.

He said afterwards: “It was not the beginning I was expecting when I signed, but it’s never easy when you arrive in January at a massive team like this. There’s less pressure for me now, now I can enjoy it.”

He would win trophies at Chelsea including the UEFA Champions League in 2012 and UEFA Europa League in 2013. However, 45 goals in 172 appearances in all competitions was a disappointing return for ‘El Nino,’ who is now closing his career playing in Japan. His best Premier League days were most definitely as a Liverpool FC player.

Shock Results: Charlton Athletic 4-2 Chelsea (December 2003)

Goalscorers: Hermann Hreidarsson 1, John Terry 10, Matt Holland 35, Jonatan Johansson 48, Jason Euell 53, Eidur Gudjohnsen 73

Teams:

Charlton Athletic: Dean Kiely, Jonathan Fortune, Hermann Hreidarsson, Chris Perry, Radostin Kishishev, Matt Holland, Scott Parker, Graham Stuart (Chris Powell 77), Paolo Di Canio (Paul Konchesky 87), Jason Euell, Jonatan Johansson

Chelsea: Carlo Cudicini, Marcel Desailly, John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Glen Johnson, Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard (Geremi 66), Joe Cole (William Gallas 82), Jesper Gronkjaer (Eidur Gudjohnsen 46), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Adrian Mutu

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 26,752

Having spent big following Roman Abramovich’s summer takeover, Chelsea were now a major player in the Premier League and considered among the favourites for the title in the 2003-2004 season. The Blues entered the festive period in third place, having lost just twice all campaign and within striking distance of Manchester United and Arsenal in the table.

On Boxing Day, the Blues made the short trip across the capital to The Valley to face Charlton Athletic, who were enjoying a great season too and were challenging for a top four position. Alan Curbishley’s men were fifth in the table and above the likes of Liverpool FC and Newcastle United. They also had a good record against Chelsea, having beaten them four times in their last six outings.

The Addicks pounced on some sloppy defending within the first minute, exploiting a weakness at a Chelsea set-piece. Paolo Di Canio’s corner was whipped into the box and was met by the head of Icelandic defender, Hermann Hreidarsson. Hreidarsson’s header flew past a stranded Carlo Cudicini and the home side had the dream start, going into the lead after just 42 seconds.

Their lead lasted for just nine minutes. Adrian Mutu guided in a perfect free-kick delivery and it only required a glancing touch from John Terry which was good enough to defeat Dean Kiely. Chelsea had parity and immediately quietened the home support. Charlton though were unfazed and Scott Parker was putting in a brilliant performance, controlling the central midfield battle with calmness and assurance. Both Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele struggled to gain any momentum and it was Parker who helped start the move for Charlton’s second goal. He and Di Canio combined to set-up Jonatan Johannsson. He drove a cross into the box and Matt Holland climbed above Marcel Desailly to restore Charlton’s lead.

Claudio Ranieri tried to change things at half-time, bringing on a third striker in Eidur Gudjohnsen to replace the ineffective Jesper Gronkjaer. It made no difference and within the first eight minutes of the second half, Charlton had stormed into a 4-1 lead. Di Canio bamboozled Terry with some clever skill and squared the ball for Johansson to score one of the simpler goals of his career on 48 minutes. Five minutes later, Jason Euell took full advantage of a horrid attempt at a defensive clearance by Wayne Bridge before poking the ball past a stunned Cudicini.

Gudjohnsen added some respectability onto the scoreline on 73 minutes but it was barely a consolation for the travelling support that saw their side lose once again on one of their bogey grounds. Charlton would finish the season in seventh place and Parker’s meticulous display saw him eventually leave The Valley for Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window.

Premier League Rewind: 5th-6th November 2016

Results: AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Sunderland, Burnley 3-2 Crystal Palace, Manchester City 1-1 Middlesbrough, West Ham United 1-1 Stoke City, Chelsea 5-0 Everton, Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool FC 6-1 Watford, Hull City 2-1 Southampton, Swansea City 1-3 Manchester United, Leicester City 1-2 West Bromwich Albion

At the start of November 2016, the top five in the table were covered by just three points. Title favourites Manchester City led the standings but had Arsenal, Liverpool FC, a revitalised Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur right on their coattails. By the end of this particular weekend, we had new leaders again and another special Premier League goalscoring milestone had been reached.

Manchester City had wobbled recently at The Etihad Stadium, having dropped points at home to Southampton and Everton and that trend continued against Middlesbrough. Just days after sweeping aside Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League group stages, it looked like the home side were on their way to a routine victory when Sergio Aguero scored two minutes before half-time. However, despite having 25 shots on-goal, they were wasteful and were punished in the first minute of stoppage-time. George Friend’s cross was met by midfielder Marten de Roon, whose header was too powerful to be stopped by Claudio Bravo, earning Boro a fourth away draw of the season. It was now just one win in five Premier League matches for Pep Guardiola.

Chelsea had the opportunity to go top following this result at Eastlands and Eden Hazard put in an exemplary performance as Everton were crushed 5-0 at Stamford Bridge. The Belgian was in masterful form, scoring twice, whilst Pedro ably assisted with a goal of his own and two assists too. Since a half-time change of formation in defeat at Arsenal at the end of September, Chelsea hadn’t conceded a goal and had now chalked up five successive victories.

On the Sunday, Arsenal had the opportunity to take over at the summit of the table as they hosted local rivals Tottenham in the latest edition of the hotly-contested North London Derby rivalry. It seemed like they were going to inflict a first defeat of the season on Mauricio Pochettino’s side when Kevin Wimmer headed the ball into his own net from a Mesut Ozil free-kick. However, Tottenham were given a penalty by Mark Clattenburg when Mousa Dembele was tripped in the penalty area by Laurent Koscielny. On his return to the starting XI following six weeks out with injury, Harry Kane made an immediate impact on his return, converting the spot-kick as Spurs extended their unbeaten run. However, they had now drawn four successive matches since beating Manchester City a month earlier.

Ultimately, it was Liverpool FC who would end the weekend as new league leaders. Jurgen Klopp’s side produced a sparkling display against a Watford side that caved in spectacularly at Anfield. Sadio Mane scored twice and Georginio Wijnaldum struck his first Reds goal as the Hornets lost 6-1 at Anfield. Liverpool were top scorers in the division with 30 goals in just 11 matches.

There was a piece of goalscoring history at The Liberty Stadium. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the 25,000th goal in Premier League history as Manchester United strolled to a 3-1 win at Swansea and moved back into the top six. It was only their second win in eight matches and left the Swans second-bottom and only above Sunderland on goal difference. There was finally some joy for the Black Cats supporters, as they came from behind to defeat AFC Bournemouth 2-1 and record their first victory of the season at the 11th attempt of asking.

The cracks were beginning to show at Leicester City. The reigning champions were performing dreadfully on their travels but at home, they were still unbeaten until West Bromwich Albion outfought and outplayed them. Matt Phillips scored the winning goal as the Baggies made the short trip back across the Midlands with all three points following a 2-1 win and left Claudio Ranieri’s side just two points above the relegation zone.

What else happened in November 2016?

  • Republican candidate Donald Trump defeats Hilary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States.
  • Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who spent 32 years in office, dies aged 90.
  • 71 people are killed in Colombia on-board LaMia Flight 2933 which include many of the Brazilian Chapecoense football team.
  • Thomas Mair is found guilty of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire and is sentenced to life imprisonment at The Old Bailey.
  • UKIP has a new leader as Paul Nuttall is elected.
  • BBC Television celebrates its 80th anniversary.
  • Britain’s Andy Murray becomes ATP Men’s Singles World no.1, becoming the first British player to reach no.1 in the tennis rankings in the modern era.

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 2-4 Wimbledon (October 1996)

Goalscorers: Robbie Earle 4, Scott Minto 9, Neal Ardley 16, Marcus Gayle 64, Efan Ekoku 78, Gianluca Vialli 84 PEN

Teams:

Chelsea: Kevin Hitchcock, Steve Clarke, Erland Johnsen, Franck Leboeuf, Scott Minto (Ruud Gullit 55), Dan Petrescu, Craig Burley (John Spencer 55), Roberto Di Matteo, Eddie Newton (Dennis Wise 77), Mark Hughes, Gianluca Vialli

Wimbledon: Neil Sullivan, Dean Blackwell, Alan Kimble, Kenny Cunningham, Chris Perry, Neal Ardley, Vinnie Jones, Robbie Earle, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Efan Ekoku (Peter Fear 80), Marcus Gayle

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 28,020

Having lost their first three matches of the 1996-1997 season, Wimbledon had produced a phenomenal turnaround and when they travelled across the capital to play Chelsea in October 1996, they were chasing a seventh successive victory. This would equal a club-record and put them one short of Manchester United’s best effort of eight consecutive wins in the early Premier League days.

The team news was dominated by Ruud Gullit’s controversial decision to drop Dennis Wise after some recent error-strewn displays. Eddie Newton was chosen as his replacement for his first start in eight months. If Gullit was looked for a good start, he wasn’t going to get it. Wimbledon took the lead inside four minutes with one of their trademark, unfashionable goals. Vinnie Jones’ deep throw-in provided chaos in the Chelsea defence. Efan Ekoku put off Kevin Hitchcock and Robbie Earle was braver in a challenge against Franck Leboeuf to score his fourth career goal at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had won just once in their last four matches but provided an instant response. From a pre-planned free-kick routine, Dan Petrescu teed-up Scott Minto and the full-back, only starting because of an injury to Andy Myers, scored his first-ever goal for Chelsea. Wimbledon regained their lead on 16 minutes. Neal Ardley got away from Newton and his shot seemed to completely deceive Hitchcock who was going in one direction and the ball went in another. It was the strangest of goals but Wimbledon weren’t complaining. They were back infront. It was nearly 3-1 before half-time too. Marcus Gayle was too clever for Steve Clarke and was desperately unlucky not to score as his shot was deflected onto the crossbar by a relieved Hitchcock.

10 minutes into the second half and Gullit decided to make a bold decision with a double substitution, bringing himself into the game along with another forward in John Spencer. It was Gullit’s first appearance since being appointed player-manager in the summer. The gamble backfired. Although there was an initial lift in terms of the atmosphere, it was Wimbledon who installed a two-goal cushion nine minutes after this tactical alteration.

From a punt up the park by Dean Blackwell, Gayle was given too much time and space, committed Clarke into a challenge he was always second-best to and then curled a wonderful shot with the outside of his left-foot into the goal. Gullit had a goal disallowed for offside and the match as a contest was firmly put out of Chelsea’s reach with 12 minutes left to play. Leboeuf woefully misjudged a clearance and his miscue put Ekoku in. The Nigerian provided a brilliant finish into the bottom corner to score his sixth goal in as many matches.

In the closing stages, a frustrated Gianluca Vialli was brought down by Kenny Cunningham in the penalty area, allowing the home side the chance to score a second goal. Vialli’s penalty was audacious and fortuitously crossed the line, with Neil Sullivan saving it behind the goal-line. However, this was one of Wimbledon’s finest away performances and it took them into second position in the Premier League table. The Dons eventually finished in eighth spot.

Chelsea’s season took a tragic turn just days after this game. Following a League Cup defeat in midweek away at Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea vice-chairman Matthew Harding was killed in a helicopter crash. The Blues rallied from this devastating news to finish sixth in the Premier League and win the FA Cup, beating Wimbledon in the semi-finals at Highbury.

Premier League Files: Salomon Kalou

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2006-2012)

Salomon Kalou is still a major figurehead at his current club, Hertha Berlin. Now 33, the Ivorian won numerous honours during his six-year spell in the Premier League at Chelsea, scoring 36 goals in 156 Premier League matches. This included the Premier League title in 2010 and the UEFA Champions League two years later. On the international stage, Kalou was a big part of the Cote d’Ivoire setup for a decade, amassing 97 international caps and playing for his country at three World Cup finals and the Olympic Games in 2008.

Kalou began his career at his local club in his homeland, Mimosas before making the move into the European game. His brother, Bonaventure Kalou was at Auxerre and tried to encourage Salomon to join him in France. However, Kalou opted to head to the Netherlands instead and joined Feyenoord in 2003. He scored 35 goals in 67 league appearances, forming a useful partnership with Dirk Kuyt and winning the Johan Cruijff Award in 2005 as the league’s most promising young talent.

Chelsea wasted no time in securing his signature at the end of the 2005-2006 season, snapping Kalou up for £9 million. His first season was a steep learning curve as he trained and learned from the experienced pros like his international colleague Didier Drogba and German midfielder Michael Ballack. Kalou’s first league goal for Chelsea came in December 2006 in a 3-2 away win at Wigan Athletic and his big moment of the season was a stoppage-time winner against Watford at the end of March. Chelsea finished runners-up in the Premier League but won both domestic cup competitions and Kalou appeared as a substitute in both finals.

In 2007-2008, he broke a slightly unwanted record of most offsides in a season, being caught going too soon behind the opposition defenders 107 times in 30 games. Kalou scored seven league goals that season and despite scoring his penalty in the UEFA Champions League final shootout, he ended on the losing side against Manchester United.

His participation away at the 2008 Beijing Olympics meant Luiz Felipe Scolari didn’t often select him on his return to Chelsea but Kalou continued to remind people that he was a much underrated player, demonstrated by two goals and one assist in a 5-0 trouncing of Middlesbrough in October. When Scolari left, Guus Hiddink took over as interim manager and Kalou became a genuine regular starter for the first time in his Chelsea career. He won the FA Cup again but was an unused substitute in the final against Everton.

Chelsea ended Manchester United’s recent Premier League domination in 2009-2010 but personally, it was a disappointing campaign for Kalou who despite signing a new three-year contract, had to wait until March 2010 for his first league goals of the season. The first came in an astonishing 7-1 home victory over Aston Villa. A month later, he scored his one and only Premier League hat-trick when Chelsea scored seven again, this time against Stoke City. There was some controversy over his second goal which looked like being a two-footed tackle and left Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen with a fractured shoulder but the goal stood. His final goal of the season was the third goal in Chelsea’s resounding 8-0 victory on the final day over Wigan Athletic that sealed the Premier League title.

2010-2011 was Salomon’s best Premier League goalscoring return with 10 goals even though it ended in disappointment for the team as they failed to retain their title. He was a favourite with the fans at Stamford Bridge, made even more popular by an 89th minute winner against Tottenham Hotspur in April. After becoming just a squad player in Andre Villas-Boas’ unsuccessful tenure, Kalou was one of the players to benefit from Roberto Di Matteo’s appointment as interim manager in March 2012. Having made only four starts in seven months for AVB, Kalou made an important contribution to the run-in, scoring vital goals against Benfica and Leicester City and starting both of the Blues 2012 cup victories in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. He also made his 250th appearance for Chelsea in April but he wouldn’t make many more. In July 2012, it was confirmed that his contract wouldn’t be renewed and he would be leaving the club.

FC Schalke 04, Galatasaray and Newcastle United were all linked with Kalou but he ended up joining Lille in France. It took some persuasion for the move to happen from the Lille boss Rudi Garcia and although Kalou did score 30 goals in 56 appearances, he never seemed fully comfortable in French football. In August 2014, he made the switch to the Bundesliga to join Hertha Berlin.

During his time in the German capital, he has scored two hat-tricks, both actually on Friday nights against Hannover 96 in November 2015 and Borussia Mönchengladbach in November 2016. The hat-trick against the latter came at a poignant time in his personal life as Salomon had to deal with the death of his father and aunt in quick succession. In 2015-2016, he became the first player to reach the mark of double-digit goalscoring seasons in the Premier League, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga. Forming a very fruitful partnership with the experienced Vedad Ibisevic, Kalou has finished as Hertha’s top goalscorer in two of the last three seasons, ending with 14 goals in 2015-2016 and 12 strikes in 2017-2018 as the capital club have become a regular contender for the European qualifying positions in recent years.

Kalou won the African Cup of Nations in 2015 for his country and scored 28 times for Cote d’Ivoire. He retired for a second time from international duty after their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals.

Iconic Moments: 86 and out at home for Chelsea (October 2008)

The longest unbeaten home record in Premier League history belongs to Chelsea. They went on an incredible four years and eight months run without losing a league game at Stamford Bridge. That spanned a sensational 86 matches.

The run began after the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ side recorded a 2-1 victory in west London in February 2004. Chelsea didn’t lose a home league match for four full Premier League seasons afterwards which included the whole of Jose Mourinho’s first spell as Blues boss and two title-winning campaigns.

The run was ended by Liverpool FC. Xabi Alonso’s deflected shot was enough for the Reds to record a 1-0 win in October 2008 during Luiz Felipe Scolari’s short reign as Chelsea manager.

Nevertheless, it is a feat that is very unlikely to be ever matched in Premier League history.

Great Goals: Didier Drogba – CHELSEA vs. Liverpool FC (September 2006)

Didier Drogba won two Premier League Golden Boot prizes during his exceptional time at Chelsea which saw him win all of the major trophies, including four league titles and the UEFA Champions League in 2012.

Six years earlier, he scored one of his finest goals in a Chelsea shirt and it was the winner in a tight early season contest between the Blues and Liverpool FC. The game was goalless approaching half-time. With his back to goal, Drogba turned instantly, escaping the tightly marked attentions of Jamie Carragher. Swivelling away from the Liverpool defender, he produced a first-time shot on the turn that left Pepe Reina completely rooted to the spot. It was a sensational piece of individual brilliance from the Ivorian.

Although Chelsea missed out on retaining their Premier League title, Drogba scored winning goals in two cup finals and claimed his first Golden Boot in 2006-2007 off the back of amazing moments of skill like this winning goal against the Merseysiders.

The Managers: Avram Grant

Premier League Clubs Managed: Chelsea (2007-2008), Portsmouth (2009-2010), West Ham United (2010-2011)

Avram Grant has spent the majority of his career coaching and managing in Israel, enjoying plenty of success in his homeland with a host of league titles and cup victories with different teams, including Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel-Aviv. However, he has also experienced three seasons coaching in England. He came within a kick of landing the biggest prize in European club football before experiencing a lost cause at Portsmouth and an underwhelming season in the dugout at West Ham United.

Four decades in Israel

Avram Grant began coaching as an 18-year-old all the way back in 1972 when he became a youth coach at his local side, Hapoel Petah Tikva. It was a spell that lasted a staggering 14 years. He made the big step into first-team management in 1986 when he was promoted into the role at Hapoel. He turned them into regular title contenders but they missed out on the top prize to Maccabi Haifa. Grant did enjoy back-to-back victories in the Toto Cup in 1990 and 1991.

His next stop was Maccabi Tel-Aviv where they won the league championship in his first season in-charge of the club, taking the top honours by 13 points in 1992. He repeated the success three years later before taking the position at Hapoel Haifa at the end of the 1994-1995 season. This was an unsuccessful spell as the club finished just fourth in the championship. He returned to Maccabi Tel-Aviv but couldn’t replicate the success of his first spell, only achieving one cup victory in 1999.

At the start of the new millennium, he went to Maccabi Haifa, coaching there until 2002. Maccabi enjoyed a dominating period under his tenure, winning consecutive league championships. However, they missed out on a potential place in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League after fielding an ineligible player in a qualifying tie against FC Haka of Finland.

Having led most of the major clubs in Israel, Avram moved into international management in 2002, becoming Israel’s youngest-ever boss in the process. However, they failed to qualify for both the 2004 European Championships and the World Cup in 2006. That was despite an undefeated qualification campaign in the latter but six draws from 10 matches saw them finish below France and Switzerland.

Off to Chelsea

In June 2006, Grant resigned as Israel manager after electing not to extend his contract. He moved to Portsmouth to become Technical Director whilst Harry Redknapp was in his second spell as manager there. However, he was also a close friend of Roman Abramovich and when the Russian billionaire offered him the position of Director of Football at Chelsea; it was an offer he simply couldn’t turn down. His arrival in July 2007 was believed to be another maker in the increased fractious relationship between Abramovich and Jose Mourinho.

In September 2007, Mourinho left as Blues manager and Grant was given the opportunity to move downstairs into the management role at Stamford Bridge. His first game ended in a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, just three days after taking control of the team. In doing so, he became the first Israeli coach to manage in the Premier League.

The fans and players initially weren’t happy with the appointment, all still upset with Mourinho’s departure but Avram managed to win them around, steering the club onto a 16-match unbeaten run in all competitions following the reverse at Old Trafford which included a 6-0 thumping of Manchester City. That was enough for Abramovich to give him a contract extension and he added Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka to the squad in the 2008 January transfer window.

In February, the Londoners reached the League Cup final but lost in extra-time to Tottenham Hotspur to a goal from Jonathan Woodgate. A month later, Chelsea’s FA Cup defence ended with an embarrassing 1-0 loss in the quarter-finals to Barnsley. However, the Blues and the manager were showing great resilience in the other two major competitions. Late season victories domestically over Arsenal and Manchester United put them right in contention to win the Premier League title whilst Liverpool FC were beaten over two legs in a gruelling UEFA Champions League semi-final. Grant had achieved something Mourinho failed to manage – guiding Chelsea to a Champions League final.

May 2008 promised so much but ultimately produced heartbreak for everyone connected with Chelsea Football Club. Manchester United’s final day victory away at Wigan Athletic ensured they successfully retained their Premier League title whilst Chelsea could only draw at home to Bolton Wanderers.

Less than two weeks later, United and Chelsea went head-to-head in the first all-English final in the modern era of the UEFA Champions League. The game went to penalties and when Cristiano Ronaldo had his spot-kick saved by Petr Cech, skipper John Terry had a chance to win the competition for the first time for Chelsea. He lost his footing, slipped and his kick hit the post. The penalties went to sudden death and when Edwin van der Sar saved from Anelka, it was Manchester United who became the Kings of Europe. Chelsea had missed out on the biggest prize in European club football by the smallest of margins. Three days later, Grant was sacked.

Keeping the sinking ship going at Pompey

After 18 months out of the limelight, Avram returned to Portsmouth in October 2009 as their new Director of Football. Less than two months later, he was appointed manager, replacing Paul Hart in the hotseat. He took over a sinking ship. Portsmouth were bottom of the table with just seven points gained from 13 matches and the club were in desperate financial trouble.

He quickly installed some confidence into the players with home victories over Burnley and Liverpool FC and the players kept fighting, even with the huge problems off-the-field that were threatening to engulf the club’s existence. When Portsmouth were docked nine points in February 2010 for going into administration, relegation was virtually guaranteed. However, the supporters kept faith and a sensational run to the FA Cup final put smiles on the faces of the fans. They beat Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur to reach the Wembley showpiece where ironically, they would face his former club, Chelsea who were chasing a league and cup double. Didier Drogba’s free-kick decided the contest in Chelsea’s favour but Grant’s reputation had been enhanced in such troubling times for Portsmouth.

At the end of the season, he resigned as manager – deciding to embark on a fresh challenge but that didn’t stop the connection he felt with the supporters which he admitted to in an open letter to the fans.

“Portsmouth has given me a feeling of home away from home. I might be leaving Portsmouth physically, but you cannot take Portsmouth away from me and my heart. It’s been both a difficult and complex year for us at the club, but, at the same time, it’s been a wonderful and uplifting professional and personal experience. I have been inundated with letters and emails from fans. Many have brought tears to my eyes – and, take it from me, it takes a lot to do that.”

The Hammers nightmare

Two weeks after resigning as Portsmouth manager, Grant was appointed as West Ham United’s new boss, succeeding Italian playing legend Gianfranco Zola. However, it didn’t go well. He led the club to their worst-ever Premier League start, recording four successive defeats at the start of the season, scoring just twice and conceding 10 in that period.

His first win for the Hammers came in a London Derby against Tottenham Hotspur but by the end of November, West Ham were bottom and had enjoyed just two Premier League victories. The pressure was growing and on his job too with reports that the recently dismissed Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce was being lined-up as a potential successor.

West Ham rallied over the festive period with victories over Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers and a draw at home to Everton but the rumours about his longer-term future continued to grow. Martin O’Neill’s name was mentioned with the job in mid-January, especially after a 5-0 loss away at Newcastle United but he categorically ruled himself out of the running. Although they reached the League Cup semi-finals, that ended in defeat over two legs against Birmingham City and following a 3-2 defeat on the penultimate weekend away at relegation rivals Wigan Athletic which confirmed West Ham’s relegation, Grant was sacked. He’d achieved just seven league wins from 37 matches.

After the Premier League, he guided Partizan Belgrade to a fifth successive Serbian championship in 2012 and he took Ghana to an African Cup of Nations final in 2015 where they lost a penalty shootout to Cote d’Ivoire. In January 2018, he became technical advisor at Indian Super League side NorthEast United FC.

Premier League Rewind: 17th-18th December 2005

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

The final round of matches before Christmas in the 2005-2006 season saw Chelsea have the opportunity to strengthen their grip on the Premier League title. Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering Blues had lost just once so far away at Manchester United and dropped just four points in the campaign when they travelled to Highbury for the last-ever time to play Arsenal.

The Gunners were smarting off the back of successive defeats on their travels to Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United without scoring and things didn’t improve here against the league leaders. They were denied a perfectly good goal when Robin van Persie was wrongly flagged for offside. Chelsea took advantage when Arjen Robben scored just before half-time. A mistake from Lauren allowed Joe Cole to score a second goal after 73 minutes and took Mourinho’s men a whopping 20 points clear of the previous season’s runners-up. He was seen shaking hands before full-time with his coaching staff in a joyous manner. It had been another professional performance from the reigning champions.

The result left Arsenal way off the pace in eighth position and also, five points adrift of the top four positions. Chelsea’s nearest challengers were Manchester United who remained nine points behind the men from west London. The Red Devils recorded their sixth win in seven matches with a fairly routine 2-0 victory at shot-shy Aston Villa. Both Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney were on-target to keep United in second position and leave Villa just four points above the bottom three.

With third-placed Liverpool FC away on FIFA World Club Championship duty in Japan, Tottenham had the opportunity to move above the Reds but couldn’t fully capitalise, drawing a thrilling match at Middlesbrough. Spurs trailed twice in the game but battled back to draw 3-3 with Mido scoring the equaliser in the 80th minute to ensure the spoils were deservedly shared.

Wigan Athletic bounced back from five successive defeats to the ‘big 5’ by waltzing past Charlton Athletic 3-0, pushing the Latics back into both positive goal difference and the top six. Henri Camara scored a hat-trick as Charlton crashed to their sixth defeat in seven matches. Camara wasn’t the only hat-trick hero of the weekend as Michael Owen scored his first treble as a Newcastle United player in the Magpies’ 4-2 away victory at West Ham. They would turn out to be Owen’s last goals of the season. He broke his foot two weeks later which would keep him on the sidelines for the best part of four months.

Harry Redknapp had made a sensational return to Portsmouth following a year of drama on the south coast between Pompey and Southampton. His first game back at Fratton Park saw his team record a priceless and scrappy 1-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion with Svetoslav Todorov scoring the only goal of the contest. However, Portsmouth would spend Christmas Day still in the bottom three.

The result saw them overtake Birmingham City however, who went down 4-1 away at Manchester City in the Saturday teatime fixture. David Sommeil put the home side into the lead after just 42 seconds and Birmingham goalkeeper Nico Vaesen endured a torrid evening, conceding a penalty and receiving a late red card for handling outside his penalty area. For Steve Bruce and the travelling support, it was torrid evening at Eastlands.

What else happened in December 2005?

  • David Cameron is elected as the new leader of The Conservative Party, defeating David Davis in the leadership election.
  • The Civil Partnership Act 2004 comes into force. This grants same-sex couples similar legal rights to those of married heterosexuals. One of the first high-profile marriages is that of singer Elton John and his long-time partner, David Furnish.
  • The Buncefield oil storage facility in Hertfordshire is destroyed by a series of explosions.
  • Irish President Mary McAleese meets The Queen at Hillsborough Castle. It is the first time that the two heads of state meet in Ireland.
  • England cricket all-rounder Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff wins the 2005 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
  • Amelle Berrabah joins the Sugababes, replacing Mutya Buena who leaves the band.
  • The final-ever episode is aired of the Channel Five soap opera, Family Affairs.

 

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur (February 1994)

Goalscorers: Steve Sedgley 17, Jason Dozzell 18, Mal Donaghy 29, Mark Stein 33, 89 PEN, John Spencer 40, Andy Gray 72 PEN

Teams:

Chelsea: Dimitri Kharine, Steve Clarke, Mal Donaghy, Jakob Kjeldberg, Erland Johnsen, Craig Burley (David Hopkin 88), Eddie Newton, Dennis Wise, Gavin Peacock, John Spencer, Mark Stein

Tottenham Hotspur: Ian Walker, Dean Austin, Kevin Scott, Justin Edinburgh (Sol Campbell 27), Stuart Nethercott, Gary Mabbutt, Steve Sedgley, Vinny Samways, Darren Anderton, Jason Dozzell (Andy Gray 68), Ronny Rosenthal

Referee: John Lloyd, Attendance: 19,398

Both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur were experiencing tough campaigns in season 1993-1994. Both teams were far too close to the relegation zone for comfort when they met each other at Stamford Bridge in February 1994. The two sides from the capital would produce one of the finest London Derbies the Premier League has ever seen.

Tottenham hadn’t won at Stamford Bridge for over four years and they made the brighter start. Ossie Ardiles’ gung-ho approach seemed to be working. Darren Anderton produced a brilliant ball to the far post and Steve Sedgley sneaked around the back of Steve Clarke and found the back of the net in the 17th minute. Having lost six league matches in a row which was the worst run in the club’s proud history, Spurs quickly doubled the advantage. Dean Austin producing a first-class cross and Jason Dozzell was left unmarked to hand the visitors a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes.

Chelsea needed to respond quickly to keep the home crowd onside and they managed it through 36-year-old Mal Donaghy in the 29th minute. Gavin Peacock picked out Donaghy whose shot took a slight deflection off Dozzell which was enough to deceive Ian Walker at his near post. Four minutes later, the scores were level. From a Dennis Wise corner, Danish defender Jakob Kjeldberg won an aerial battle against Stuart Nethercott and the ball fell perfectly for the in-form Mark Stein to fire home. Glenn Hoddle’s side completed a phenomenal turnaround with three goals in 11 minutes to take a 3-2 lead into half-time. The influential Wise produced a direct pass into the path of John Spencer whose brilliant instant control set himself up to flash his shot past Walker. The Scot had now scored in four successive matches and the Blues had their noses infront.

After a calmer start to the second half, Tottenham won a penalty in the 72nd minute. Erland Johnsen threw his arms up in the air from a corner to deny Kevin Scott’s header. Referee John Lloyd had no option but to give a penalty and substitute Andy Gray converted the spot-kick, firing his kick down the middle of the goal. At 3-3, there was no way Ardiles was going to settle for a point. Moments later, Tottenham were in again. Ronny Rosenthal burst clear with the Chelsea defensive offside trap breaking down spectacularly. Dimitri Kharine flew out of his goal and tackled the Israeli international unfairly and a second penalty was given. Kharine was probably slightly fortunate to avoid further sanction from the referee and it would play a part in the next course of action in this thriller of a match. Gray took his second spot-kick but it wasn’t as convincing as his first effort and Kharine saved with his legs.

Incredibly, there was a third penalty in stoppage-time when Austin fouled Peacock. Although there was a brief argument between Wise and Stein on who was going to take the penalty, the forward won the battle, both with his skipper and then with Walker, thumping his kick into the back of the net and sealing all three points for Chelsea.

Tottenham’s seventh successive defeat prompted huge concerns but they eventually edged away from danger to finish 15th in the final table, one place below Chelsea.