The Chelsea FanCast looks back, season by season, to 50 Years of Chelsea history from 1970 to the present day.
Stamford Chidge is joined by Jonathan Kydd and Mark Meehan to look back at the 1998-99 season.
In Pt 2 we pick up the season in January with Chelsea top of the Premier League and hopes high for their first league title since 1955.
Chelsea got past Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup 3rd round, helped by a flying hot dog but their unbeaten run came to an end away to Arsenal. The 2-1 home win against Liverpool will forever be remembered for the spat between Graeme Le Saux and Robbie Fowler but goals were drying up in the absence of Gus Poyet and Tore Andre Flo through injury.
Chelsea wobbled in March with an unlucky defeat to Man Utd in the FA Cup and then an unfortunate 1-0 home defeat to West Ham. But this was a mere precursor to what happened in April when Real Mallorca knocked then out of the European Cup Winners Cup semi-final and then a 2-2 draw at home to Leicester courtesy of a Steve Guppy goal all but ended the title challenge.
The season seemed like a massive disappointment going so close to winning the title and finishing 3rd just 4 points behind Man Utd and being knocked out at the quarter final of both the League and FA Cups and the semi-final of the Cup Winners Cup. But in truth only 3 league defeats was our best ever performance to date and only 6 clubs had ever done this in a season. Crucially for next season it was Chelsea’s first Champions League qualification; their second equal highest finish ever; highest average attendance since 1971/72; most clean sheets and lowest number of goals conceded in the top flight.
But the feeling festered that maybe Chelsea had blown their best chance of a league title in decades. If only Casaraghi, Poyet and Flo had not been injured? If only Vialli had bought another striker in January? If only Chelsea hadn’t dropped points against Blackburn, West Ham, Boro, Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester.
If only…it was that kind of season.