Chelsea Football Club: League champions, a progressionBy: Jack | May 9th, 2010
Ten-plus hours removed, and it all is still a bit surreal.
Chelsea won its fourth English top-flight championship on Sunday, it’s third of the Premier League era – all arriving in the past six seasons. How does 2009-10 compare to, say, 2004-05, you ask? How does it differ from our first, in 1954-55?
Fortunately for you, I have some answers. Kind of.
Uno – 1954-55 (First Division) —
Second place: Wolverhampton 48
Goals scored: 81
Goals allowed: 57
Leading scorer: Roy Bentley 21, John McNichol 14, Eric Parsons 11
Key statistic: Did the double against Wolves, the defending champions and considered by most the toast of world football.
Ah, the Golden Jubilee. The club’s 50th anniversary – it’s 41st competitive season – proved its most successful up to that point. That success was unexpected; Chelsea had collected no major honors, a mid-table side at best since World War II. Appropriately, four consecutive defeats in October left the club in 12th place. But manager Ted Drake’s philosophy of high fitness and teamwork eventually paid dividends.
Only three losses against relevant sides followed. So, too, did a league double over Wolverhampton, whose scalps that season included Spartak Moscow and the Ferenc Puskas-led Hungarian side Honved. The trophy was ours with a match to play.
We were, as always, supporter-driven. The club attracted an average home gate of 48,307, the highest in the division.
Dos – 2004-05 (Premier League) —
Points: 96 (league record)
Second place: Arsenal 83
Goals scored: 72
Goals allowed: 15
Leading scorer: Frank Lampard 13, Eidur Gudjohnsen 12, Didier Drogba 10
Key statistic: Aside from the concession of just 15 goals – astonishing by the way -the staggering total of twenty-five clean sheets.
The Abramovich era, Year 2 – also referred to as the year of The Special One.
£91.45million was spent on incoming talent, opposed to the £121.15m invested in Year 1 of the Russian oligarch’s revitalization project. Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and Arjen Robben were among those recruited. They all – and I do mean all – took a deserved backseat to the arrival of Jose Mourinho.
The self-proclaimed Special One wasted little time. What arrived in claiming a first English league title in 50 years … a Premier League record 96 points; 25 clean sheets; nine consecutive away wins; 15 goals conceded; 29 victories – it was mind-boggling for the Chelsea supporter. The Carling Cup was secured first, then the league crown with three games remaining. Petr Cech went a then-record 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal. The Blues lost just once, at Manchester City.
Tres – 2005-06 (Premier League) —
Second place: Manchester United 83
Goals scored: 72
Goals allowed: 22
Leading scorer: Frank Lampard 16, Didier Drogba 12, Hernan Crespo 10
Key statistic: Collected 55 out of a possible 57 points at the Bridge
The Abramovich era, Year 3. Centenary year for the club. More spending – £54.4m. More winning. The specialness continued, a second consecutive Premier League crown the endgame.
Perhaps not as wowing as the initial season under Mourinho, but every bit as efficient. The league was won by a cool eight points over United, a 3-0 rout of the aforementioned on May 1 at Stamford Bridge the climax to another year of English dominance for Mourinho and Chelsea. The Blues closed the season with a draw at home to Everton to equal Liverpool’s mark of 63 home league games unbeaten.
Cuatro – 2009-10 (Premier League) —
Second place: Manchester United 85
Goals scored: 103
Goals allowed: 32
Leading scorer: Didier Drogba 29, Frank Lampard 22, Florent Malouda 12, Nicolas Anelka 11
Key statistic: Aside from becoming the first club to net a century in the Premier League? Scoring three or more goals on 15 occasions.
King Carlo. The man who dared to wow us. Dared to ruthlessly take our breath away. Job done.
The club’s first season under Carlo Ancelotti was equal parts thrilling and frustrating. Inconsistency reared in defeats to Wigan, Manchester City (twice), Villa; and draws to West Ham, Hull City. Brilliance oozed in Stamford Bridge massacres of Blackburn, Sunderland, Villa and Wigan.
Those six little games against the so-called Big Four? Six wins there.
A three-club race soon returned to the familiar, with Arsenal bowing out predictably to leave United and Chelsea at the forefront of English football once again. The two clubs exchanged sweet, sweet nothings up until the final day.
Chelsea, though, proved deserved winners, not only overcoming league opposition but also internal discourse and extramarital controversy along the way. Amongst the accolades, a league record 103 goals scored – no club had ever reached a century before; the resurrection of Didier Drogba; the renaissance of Florent Malouda; the adaptability of Branislav Ivanovic; the sustained excellence of Super Frank Lampard; hell, the essence of a team.