Stamford Chidge & Jonathan Kydd are joined by Chelsea author Mark Meehan to look back at Chelsea’s 2004-05 season.
In part two, we pick up the story in January 2005. Under the management of Jose Mourinho, Chelsea were top of the league, 7 points clear with 55 points, the largest points tally at this stage in the PL ever, and were fighting for trophies on all fronts with qualification for the Champions’ League round of 16 achieved with 13 points and a Carling Cup semi-final against Man Utd to look forward to in the New Year as well as the FA Cup.
All eyes were on Stamford Bridge as we took on Man Utd in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. A cagey 0-0 with Utd using every trick in the book was followed by a 2-1 win at Old Trafford to seal a place in the final at the Millenium stadium in Cardiff. The arrival of Abramovich and Mourinho notwithstanding, this was Chelsea’s 12th cup semi-final in 12 seasons and the first time defeat had been inflicted on Alex Ferguson’s Utd in a domestic semi-final.
Back in the Premier League Chelsea passed the stern ‘can they do it on a cold night in Blackburn’ test standing up, literally to the physical intimidation meted out by Mark Hughes dirty side. Arguably this was the match that sealed the title for Chelsea, at least in terms of belief.
February and March brought a plethora of high profile and must win matches which was to become the norm for Chelsea througout Abramovich’s tenure. Newcastle knocked us out of the FA Cup, ending the pursuit of all four trophies. Barcelona beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Nou Camp in a controversial match where we had the upper hand until Drogba was sent off by Anders Frisk for a dubious second yellow. And in the space of a week, Chelsea defeated Liverpool in the Carling Cup final having gone 1-0 down after a Riise goal on 1 minute and rescued by a Steve Gerrard goal on 79 minutes, before Drogba and Kezman settled matters in a 3-2 win.
March saw the return of Barcelona to Stamford Bridge and one of the greatest matches ever seen in the club’s 100 year history as Chelsea stormed to a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes only to be pegged back by a remarkable Ronaldinho goal which left the crowd silent in consternation, before John Terry ensured a 4-2 win on the night and a 5-4 win on aggregate. A quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich was Chelsea’s reward and another classic played out in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, almost matching the Barcelona match for excitement and quality, with one of Frank Lampard’s best goals for the club a highlight in a 4-2 win. Chelsea got the job done in the last match to be played at the Olympiastadion albeit with a couple of late goals from Bayern to cause more anxiety than we needed.
Attention moved back to the Premier League. Would Chelsea win it against Fulham on the 50th anniversary to the day of our our first league title? Had we not drawn at home to Arsenal we would have, but we were destined to wait until the Bolton away match, just as Jose Mourinho had predicted months ago.
The small matter of the club’s second and consecutive Champions’ League semi-final against Liverpool preceded Bolton. Thanks to a solitary ghost goal by Luis Garcia at Anfield, Chelsea were denied a final appearance again and our modern rivalry and enmity with Liverpool and Rafa Benitez was confirmed.
It should have been crushing, but in truth it wasn’t, because a few days earlier, Chelsea defeated Bolton thanks to two Frank Lampard goals to lift the Premier League for the first time in their history. Many of us never believed we’d see the day; tears were shed, friends were embraced and a massive party in the Kings Road ensued.
Chelsea’s greatest ever season? No doubt!