Tag Archives: Jose Mourinho

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.

 

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Premier League Files: Luke Shaw

Premier League Career: Southampton (2012-2014), Manchester United (2014-PRESENT)

In August 2018, Luke Shaw scored the first goal of his professional career and it turned out to be the matchwinner in the first match of the 2018-2019 Premier League campaign. The left-back’s effort in Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over Leicester City was also a personal triumph for a player who is still only 23 but has found the going incredibly tough at Old Trafford.

Although he was a Chelsea supporter growing up, Shaw entered the Southampton academy at the age of eight and became a regular in their Under-18 setup when he was just 15. It was clear that a bright future laid in-wait for him and in May 2012, he was offered a professional contract on Southampton’s promotion to the Premier League alongside fellow graduates Calum Chambers, Jack Stephens and James Ward-Prowse.

He made his Premier League debut in November 2012, starting the 1-1 home draw with Swansea City and playing 74 minutes of the match. In the process, he became the youngest Southampton player to start in the Premier League. He went on to play 24 further matches in the top-flight, setting up Jason Puncheon for an equalising goal at Stamford Bridge in January 2013 in what turned out to be Nigel Adkins’ final match as Saints boss.

Mauricio Pochettino embraced the youth policy when he succeeded Adkins and Shaw was one of the key components to blossom even further under the tutelage of the Argentine. His 2013-2014 campaign was sensational and he was nominated on the shortlist for the PFA Young Player of the Year as well as beating off competition from the likes of Leighton Baines and Aleksandar Kolarov to win the left-back vote in the PFA Team of the Year.

His development was also noticed by England manager Roy Hodgson who made Shaw a shock inclusion in the Three Lions 23-man World Cup squad for 2014 at the expense of the experienced Ashley Cole, who retired on the spot from international football as a result. Shaw was the youngest player to play in the Brazil 2014 competition when he started England’s final group game – the goalless draw with Costa Rica. However, he has seen the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose and Ashley Young overtake him in the left-back pecking order and his lack of consistent form along with injuries meant he was overlooked for both EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup finals.

Four days after England’s disappointing World Cup 2014 campaign ended, Shaw’s anticipated move from Southampton to Manchester United was finally confirmed. The £30 million fee made him the most expensive teenager in world football for over a year until the same club bought Anthony Martial from AS Monaco.

A hamstring injury delayed his debut for the club until the end of September 2014 when he played the whole 90 minutes of Manchester United’s 2-1 success over West Ham United but he only made 16 league appearances in a frustrating season littered with niggling injuries. He also was red-carded for the first time in his career, receiving his marching orders in the closing stages of the return fixture with West Ham at Upton Park.

2015-2016 looked set to be a much better campaign for Shaw, who exceled in the early season matches, chalking up a couple of assists along the way. He was praised by both captain Wayne Rooney and manager Louis van Gaal but in Manchester United’s opening UEFA Champions League group stage match in Eindhoven, fate gave him a cruel blow. Shaw was on the wrong end of a dreadful tackle from PSV Eindhoven’s Mexican defender Hector Moreno and suffered a double leg fracture. He was given oxygen and treated by nine medical members from both teams in a challenge that was so bad; replays were not allowed to be shown by the match directors. His season was over before it hardly begun.

That summer, Jose Mourinho replaced Van Gaal as Manchester United boss and it started a chequered relationship between the Portuguese and Shaw, who was often on the wrong end of some stinging criticism from Mourinho. Sometimes, it was justified but on other occasions, people couldn’t help but think he was picking on Luke as an easy target. It came to a head in March 2018 when after he featured in Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final win against Brighton & Hove Albion, Mourinho said: “Luke – I cannot say much more. It is a relation with personality. It is a relation to trust, it is a relation to class. Luke, in the first half, every time they went in his corridor the cross was coming and a dangerous situation was coming, so I was not happy with the performance.”

Withdrawn at half-time of that match, it seriously looked like he would be completely frozen out of further matches. To Shaw’s credit though, he worked hard in pre-season and worked his way back into Mourinho’s thinking and has been the first-choice left-back for the bulk of the current campaign and one of United’s brighter sparks in what has been an awful domestic season so far, ultimately leading to Mourinho’s sacking before Christmas 2018.

Shaw has admitted the last few years have been tough and he even started seeing a psychologist after his leg break in 2015. However, he has earned himself a recall to the England squad and seems to be maturing into the player we all thought he would be from his early promise shown at Southampton.

Referees in the Middle: Mark Halsey

Premier League Career: 1999-2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Managers: Andre Villas-Boas

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

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

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

Learning from a master

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

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

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

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

A sour experience at Stamford Bridge

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

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

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

Time for Tottenham

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

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

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

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

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

From Russia to the Dakar

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

Seasonal Records: 2014-2015

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

FINAL TABLE

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

THE BASIC STATS

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

AWARDS

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

HAT-TRICK HEROES

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

TOP SCORERS

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

BIGGEST VICTORIES

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

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

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

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

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

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

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

CLEAN SHEETS

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

Shock Results: Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland (April 2014)

Goalscorers: Samuel Eto’o 12, Connor Wickham 18, Fabio Borini 82 PEN

Teams:

Chelsea: Mark Schwarzer, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Ramires, Oscar (Demba Ba 59), Mohamed Salah (Andre Schurrle 66), Willian, Samuel Eto’o (Fernando Torres 74)

Sunderland: Vito Mannone, Marcos Alonso, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Santiago Vergini, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, Adam Johnson (Emanuele Giaccherini 66), Sebastian Larsson (Ondrej Celustka 90), Fabio Borini, Connor Wickham (Jozy Altidore 66)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 41,210

Jose Mourinho was in his second spell as manager of Chelsea and his team were involved in a three-way scrap for the Premier League title with Liverpool FC and Manchester City. The Blues did look title favourites after a February victory at The Etihad Stadium but costly away defeats to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace had made them outsiders for the championship. They were facing a Sunderland side who were favourites for relegation despite a battling 2-2 draw at Eastlands three nights earlier. Gus Poyet’s side were also taking on Mourinho’s impregnable home record as a Premier League boss. He had never lost a home encounter and this was his 78th match.

The Blues top goalscorer, Eden Hazard was injured but Mourinho still had Samuel Eto’o available and the experienced Cameroonian gave his side the perfect start after only 12 minutes. Willian’s corner found Eto’o, who got infront of his marker, Lee Cattermole to guide in his 12th goal of the season. Considering there was so long to go and Sunderland’s recent 5-1 defeat on their last trip to the capital at Tottenham Hotspur, the omens didn’t look good for Poyet and his side.

However, they had found some energy and resolve during the midweek draw with Manchester City and Connor Wickham was finding a goalscoring touch that had deserted him for much of the campaign. After his two goals in Manchester, he added another here to bring the Black Cats level. On-loan full-back Marcos Alonso hit a shot which was too hot to handle for Mark Schwarzer. Wickham reacted quicker than Chelsea captain John Terry to score from close-range.

Chelsea had 31 attempts on-goal but without Hazard, lacked the decisive cutting edge. Vito Mannone was in terrific form, making smart saves to deny Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Willian whilst the introductions in the second half of Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba made little difference. The crucial moment occurred eight minutes from full-time. A slip from Cesar Azpilicueta allowed substitute Jozy Altidore to break down the right-hand side. Azpilicueta tracked him but brought him down.

Referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty and this prompted a furious reaction from the Chelsea dugout. Mourinho had to restrain his assistant coach Rui Faria, who was dismissed to the stands for his protests. On-loan from Liverpool FC, ex-Chelsea forward Fabio Borini calmly slotted away the spot-kick to set Sunderland up for their second victory in four seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho’s home record was gone and his fairly sarcastic media interviews afterwards suggested he didn’t take defeat well. Sunderland would win their next three matches and ultimately, remain in the Premier League off the back of shock results like this one in west London.

Premier League Files: Michael Essien

Premier League Career: Chelsea (2005-2013)

Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien was a lynchpin in the Chelsea midfield during Jose Mourinho’s first stint as manager at Stamford Bridge. A box-to-box midfielder who had plenty of energy to support attack and defence in his prime, his style of play earned him the nickname “The Bison.”

He started his career playing in his homeland for Liberty Professionals but had things panned out differently, it might have been Sir Alex Ferguson, not Mourinho who benefited from Essien’s work-rate and abilities at the heart of a midfield spine. Essien had a trial with Manchester United in April 2000 and they were impressed, offering him a contract. However, his failure to win a work permit plus a preference of his mother to play in France saw him move there instead. He would return to England after five excellent seasons playing in the French league.

He went to Bastia to learn his trade, spending three seasons there and playing over 60 matches. French champions Lyon liked what they saw and acquired his services in 2003. His two seasons at the Stade de Gerland were richly successful, as Lyon retained their French title in both campaigns and made the quarter-finals in both the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 editions of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho identified Essien as his main transfer target in the summer of 2005, only a few months after Chelsea had ended their 50-year top-flight title wait. After months of protracted talks, Lyon agreed to sell their asset to the west Londoners for £24.4 million, making him the most expensive African footballer in history at the time of his arrival. He settled quickly, started 31 Premier League matches as Chelsea made it consecutive Premier League titles. He scored in home victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Everton in the run-in to their success. Essien’s form also meant he won the prestigious BBC African Footballer of the Year award for 2006.

His best season at Stamford Bridge came in 2006-2007. The supporters recognised this, voting Essien as Chelsea’s Player of the Year for his immense contributions to their double domestic cup success, even if the title was lost to Manchester United. He became the first African to receive this honour in Chelsea’s proud history. In the same season, he won Chelsea’s Goal of the Season award for his spectacular equaliser against Arsenal. That was a feat he repeated in 2009 for a European stunner in the semi-finals at home to Barcelona.

This would be the peak of his Chelsea career as injury started to take its toll afterwards. There were still some highs which included a 35-yard screamer at home to Blackburn Rovers in October 2009 and a brace in a 3-1 away win in September 2010 at West Ham United. Despite these injury frustrations, Essien did win a second title in 2009-2010. However, his best days with the club were sadly behind him.

After making 168 Premier League appearances for Chelsea, scoring 17 goals, Essien moved to Real Madrid on a season-long loan deal in August 2012. This meant he was reunited with Mourinho, who was now manager at The Bernabeu. Famously at his press conference unveiling, Essien referred to Mourinho as his “Daddy!”

After Real declined an option to make the loan move a permanent stay, Michael would go on to play for AC Milan and Panathinaikos. He is still playing in the game today, now representing Persib Bandung in Indonesia. He was one of Ghana’s key players during their rapid rise in the African international spectrum. Essien was capped more than 50 times and played in the 2006 and 2014 World Cup finals, although injury denied him the chance to play in their run to the 2010 quarter-finals.

On his day, Michael Essien was one of the best midfielders in the world. Unfortunately, injury meant whilst his stay at Chelsea was popular and long, he didn’t quite fulfil the maximum potential that was most certainly capable.

Seasonal Records: 2004-2005

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2004-2005 Premier League campaign. It was a season to remember for Chelsea as the Blues won their first Premier League title, 50 years on from their last top-flight success, losing just one match all season.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 29 8 1 72 15 +57 95
2 Arsenal 38 25 8 5 87 36 +51 83
3 Manchester United 38 22 11 5 58 26 +32 77
4 Everton 38 18 7 13 45 46 -1 61
5 Liverpool FC 38 17 7 14 52 41 +11 58
6 Bolton Wanderers 38 16 10 12 49 44 +5 58
7 Middlesbrough 38 14 13 11 53 46 +7 55
8 Manchester City 38 13 13 12 47 39 +8 52
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 10 14 47 41 +6 52
10 Aston Villa 38 12 11 15 45 52 -7 47
11 Charlton Athletic 38 12 10 16 42 58 -16 46
12 Birmingham City 38 11 12 15 40 46 -6 45
13 Fulham 38 12 8 18 52 60 -8 44
14 Newcastle United 38 10 14 14 47 57 -10 44
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 9 15 14 32 43 -11 42
16 Portsmouth 38 10 9 19 43 59 -16 39
17 West Bromwich Albion 38 6 16 16 36 61 -25 34
18 Crystal Palace 38 7 12 19 41 62 -21 33
19 Norwich City 38 7 12 19 42 77 -35 33
20 Southampton 38 6 14 18 45 66 -21 32

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 975
European qualifiers Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Everton (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Bolton Wanderers (UEFA Cup)

Middlesbrough (UEFA Cup)

Newcastle United (UEFA Intertoto Cup)

Longest winning run 8 games (Chelsea)
Longest unbeaten run 29 games (Chelsea)
Longest winless run 15 games (West Bromwich Albion)
Longest losing run 6 games (Bolton Wanderers & Tottenham Hotspur)
Highest attendance 67,989 (Manchester United vs. Portsmouth)
Lowest attendance 16,180 (Fulham vs. West Bromwich Albion)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year John Terry (Chelsea)
PFA Young Player of the Year Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Football Writers’ Award Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
PFA Team of the Year Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Arjen Robben, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry, Andy Johnson
Manager of the Year Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
Premier League Goal of the Season Wayne Rooney (MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Newcastle United)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Yakubu Portsmouth vs. Fulham 4-3 30th August 2004
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Blackburn Rovers vs. Middlesbrough 0-4 16th October 2004
Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea vs. Blackburn Rovers 4-0 23rd October 2004
Milan Baros Liverpool FC vs. Crystal Palace 3-2 13th November 2004
Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur vs. Southampton 5-1 18th December 2004
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Portsmouth 3-0 5th March 2005
Rob Earnshaw Charlton Athletic vs. West Bromwich Albion 1-4 19th March 2005
Thierry Henry Arsenal vs. Norwich City 4-1 2nd April 2005

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Thierry Henry Arsenal 25
2 Andy Johnson Crystal Palace 21
3 Robert Pires Arsenal 14
4= Frank Lampard Chelsea 13
4= Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink Middlesbrough 13
4= Jermain Defoe Tottenham Hotspur 13
4= Yakubu Portsmouth 13
8= Eidur Gudjohnsen Chelsea 12
8= Andy Cole Fulham 12
8= Peter Crouch Southampton 12
11= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 11
11= Tim Cahill Everton 11
11= Shaun Wright-Phillips Manchester City 11
11= Robbie Keane Tottenham Hotspur 11
11= Rob Earnshaw West Bromwich Albion 11
16= Didier Drogba Chelsea 10
16= Freddie Ljungberg Arsenal 10
16= Robbie Fowler Manchester City 10
16= Emile Heskey Birmingham City 10
16= Kevin Phillips Southampton 10
21= Jose Antonio Reyes Arsenal 9
21= Paul Scholes Manchester United 9
21= Milan Baros Liverpool FC 9
21= El-Hadji Diouf Bolton Wanderers 9
21= Paul Dickov Blackburn Rovers 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11th May 2005
Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Liverpool FC 26th December 2004
Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Aston Villa 1st May 2005
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Southampton 18th December 2004
Charlton Athletic 0-4 Chelsea 27th November 2004
Arsenal 4-0 Charlton Athletic 2nd October 2004
Charlton Athletic 0-4 Manchester United 1st May 2005
Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 10th April 2005

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
9 Tottenham Hotspur 4-5 Arsenal 13th November 2004
8 Arsenal 5-3 Middlesbrough 22nd August 2004
8 Norwich City 4-4 Middlesbrough 22nd January 2005
7 Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11th May 2005
7 Manchester United 5-2 Crystal Palace 18th December 2004
7 Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 Everton 1st January 2005
7 Newcastle United 4-3 Manchester City 24th October 2004
7 Portsmouth 4-3 Fulham 30th August 2004
7 Southampton 4-3 Norwich City 30th April 2005
6 Fulham 6-0 Norwich City 15th May 2005
6 Arsenal 5-1 Crystal Palace 14th February 2005
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Aston Villa 1st May 2005
6 Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Southampton 18th December 2004
6 Arsenal 2-4 Manchester United 1st February 2005
6 Fulham 2-4 Liverpool FC 16th October 2004
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Newcastle United 28th August 2004
6 Portsmouth 4-2 Charlton Athletic 9th April 2005
6 Blackburn Rovers 3-3 Birmingham City 21st November 2004
6 Southampton 3-3 Fulham 5th January 2005
6 Crystal Palace 3-3 Norwich City 16th April 2005

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
James Vaughan Everton 4-0 Crystal Palace 16 years, 8 months, 27 days 10th April 2005
Cesc Fabregas Everton 1-4 Arsenal 17 years, 3 months, 11 days 15th August 2004
Philip Ifil Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Liverpool FC 17 years, 8 months, 27 days 14th August 2004
Anthony Grant Manchester United 1-3 Chelsea 17 years, 11 months, 6 days 10th May 2005
Nedum Onuoha Manchester City 1-1 Norwich City 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 1st November 2004
Matthew Bates Middlesbrough 3-2 Manchester City 17 years, 11 months, 26 days 6th December 2004
Leon Best Southampton 1-2 Newcastle United 18 years 19th September 2004
Ricardo Vaz Te Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Aston Villa 18 years, 1 month, 13 days 13th November 2004
Tom Soares Aston Villa 1-1 Crystal Palace 18 years, 2 months, 15 days 25th September 2004
Martin Cranie Southampton 0-0 Charlton Athletic 18 years, 3 months 26th December 2004

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Kevin Poole Bolton Wanderers 1-1 West Bromwich Albion 41 years, 5 months, 11 days 1st January 2005
Nigel Martyn Everton 2-0 Newcastle United 38 years, 8 months, 26 days 7th May 2005
Colin Cooper Middlesbrough 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 38 years, 1 month, 26 days 23rd April 2005
Les Ferdinand Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Blackburn Rovers 38 years, 10 days 28th December 2004
Fernando Hierro Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton 37 years, 1 month, 22 days 15th May 2005
Craig Short Blackburn Rovers 1-3 Fulham 36 years, 10 months, 12 days 7th May 2005
Youri Djorkaeff Chelsea 4-0 Blackburn Rovers 36 years, 7 months, 14 days 23rd October 2004
Graeme Le Saux Southampton 1-2 Manchester United 36 years, 6 months, 28 days 15th May 2005
Dennis Bergkamp Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal 36 years, 5 days 15th May 2005
Shaka Hislop Portsmouth 0-1 Blackburn Rovers 35 years, 10 months, 24 days 15th January 2005

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Petr Cech Chelsea 24
2= Roy Carroll Manchester United 15
2= Brad Friedel Blackburn Rovers 15
4 Nigel Martyn Everton 14
5= Paul Robinson Tottenham Hotspur 12
5= Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic 12
7= Jens Lehmann Arsenal 11
7= David James Manchester City 11
7= Thomas Sorensen Aston Villa 11
10 Gabor Kiraly Crystal Palace 10

Premier League Rewind: 25th-27th October 2014

Results: West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City, Liverpool FC 0-0 Hull City, Southampton 1-0 Stoke City, Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Crystal Palace, Swansea City 2-0 Leicester City, Burnley 1-3 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Newcastle United, Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Aston Villa

Nine games into the 2014-2015 season and Chelsea were in pole position to regain the Premier League title from Manchester City. The Blues were still undefeated in the campaign and looking tough to catch for the chasing pack.

On the 25th-27th October weekend, Jose Mourinho took his team to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. It was a first meeting between Mourinho and Louis van Gaal since the 2010 UEFA Champions League final. There was plenty of mutual respect between the managers in the build-up to this clash but it looked like Mourinho would have the final say. Didier Drogba headed the visitors infront and it looked like the league leaders would hold onto a 1-0 lead at full-time. However, with moments remaining, Manchester United won a free-kick which led to the late dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic. From the resultant set-piece, Robin van Persie thrashed home an equaliser to ensure Chelsea dropped points for only the second time this season.

Their lead over the Red Devils was still a healthy 10 points. Worse still for Van Gaal, his team had won just three from nine matches so far and were languishing in eighth spot in the table. Chelsea’s nearest pursuers were Southampton. They regained second position after Sadio Mane’s goal was enough to beat Stoke City 1-0.

They replaced Manchester City in the top two after the reigning champions fell to a 2-1 defeat away at West Ham United. It was their second league loss of the season. The decisive goal ultimately came from Diafra Sakho, who scored in his sixth successive Premier League match for the club. Despite a wonderful strike from David Silva, City left Upton Park empty-handed and West Ham climbed into the top four much to the delight of Russell Brand. The Hammers’ fan interrupted a post-match interview to congratulate manager Sam Allardyce.

After their 8-0 mauling a week earlier to Southampton, Sunderland’s woes continued. At home to Arsenal, Vito Mannone made two terrible mistakes, allowing Alexis Sanchez to score twice and allow the visitors to leave with all three points in a 2-0 victory. In fact, just six points covered West Ham in fourth position to Aston Villa in 15th. Villa’s fifth successive defeat came on Monday Night Football, losing 2-0 to Queens Park Rangers. Charlie Austin scored a double which was enough to lift QPR off the foot of the Premier League table. Aston Villa had now failed to score in over 500 minutes of Premier League football. Another team struggling were Leicester City. They were now without a win in four games after losing 2-0 to Swansea City.

QPR were replaced at the bottom of the table by Burnley, who lost 3-1 at home to Everton. Veteran forward Samuel Eto’o scored twice for Everton who moved into the top half with back-to-back victories. Sunderland dropped into the bottom three at the expense of their Tyne & Wear rivals, Newcastle United. Having not won any of their first seven games, the Magpies were about to embark on a five-match winning sequence. The second of these came at White Hart Lane, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1.

What else happened in October 2014?

  • UKIP receives its first MP when Douglas Carswell, who defected to the party from the Conservatives, wins the by-election in Clacton.
  • The SNP confirms Nicola Sturgeon will succeed Alex Salmond as leader of the party after she was the only candidate in a leadership ballot.
  • Johann Lamont resigns as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with immediate effect.
  • Nancy Birtwhistle wins the fifth series of “The Great British Bake Off.”
  • Racing driver Jules Bianchi is left with life-threatening injuries after spinning off and hitting a recovery truck during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. He will succumb to those injuries in July 2015.
  • EastEnders confirms omnibus editions of the soap from April 2015 will be stopped because of declining viewing figures.
  • IF Elfsborg manager and former Sheffield Wednesday player Klas Ingesson dies at the age of just 46 from the effects of multiple myeloma.

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.

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.