As we build up to Chelsea’s visit to Southampton on Saturday, it’s a perfect time to look back on a classic Premier League fixture between the two teams from 25 years ago. It ended Southampton 2-3 Chelsea as Dennis Wise and Ruud Gullit ruled the roost at The Dell.
We were now into Glenn Hoddle’s third season at Chelsea but now just as manager after he’d ‘hung up his boots’ the season before. Having already reached the F.A Cup Final in his first season and playing in the European Cup Winners Cup in his second there was a feeling Glenn was building something at Chelsea. The club’s intentions were clear in the summer of 1995 with the arrival of Dutch superstar Ruud Gullit on a free transfer and Manchester United legend Mark Hughes for £1.5m.
There was much excitement going into the 1995/96 season. It was appearing that we were becoming more of a cup team as we did struggle with consistency in the league. We would certainly cause upsets against the bigger sides but would often fall short against weaker opposition.
At the start of 1996 Chelsea had already knocked out high flying Newcastle in the F.A Cup in a dramatic third round replay. The blues then went on to demolish Middlesbrough 5-0 at Stamford Bridge in probably our best game under Hoddle. A game often remembered for a Gavin Peacock hat trick and a debut for a 17 year old named Jody Morris!
As I said previously, our league form was inconsistent and that was apparent again with disappointing defeats to struggling Coventry and West Ham before the Blues faced Southampton at The Dell.
Southampton 3-2 Chelsea: Tale of the Tape
- Date: Saturday 24th February 1996
- Result: Southampton 2-3 Chelsea
- Venue: The Dell
- Attendance: 15,226
- Widdrington (6), Shipperley (38)
- Wise (20, 26 (pen), Gullit (53)
Hitchcock, Clarke, Lee, Duberry (Johnsen 71), Petrescu, Phelan, Gullit, Peacock, Spackman (Spencer 80), Wise, Hughes
Disappointingly we fell behind very early in the game after failing to clear from a corner. It wouldn’t be long until Dennis Wise equalised with a fantastic long range shot and then decided to pretty much run the length of the pitch to celebrate with goalkeeper Kevin Hitchcock.
It was former Blue Ken Monkou who conceded a penalty just six minutes later after fouling Dennis Wise, who collected a great ball from Ruud Gullit. Dennis took the penalty and scored past former Wimbledon teammate Dave Beasant. In a game of former Blues, Neil Shipperley bundled the ball over the line to equalise shortly before half time for the Saints.
HT: Southampton 2-2 Chelsea
The game was won by a fantastic goal just after the break. Ruud Gullit picked the ball up on the half-way line and drove forward, a one-two with Mark Hughes before lifting the ball over the outrushing Beasant high into the net. A fully entertaining game with some great Chelsea goals, we went 8th in the league.
FT: Southampton 2-3 Chelsea
The Final Word
At the end of the 1995/96 season, Chelsea made it to the F.A Cup Semi Final. The Blues also finished in 11th place. Glenn Hoddle had taken the England job and would start after the conclusion of Euro ‘96. Ruud Gullit took over and more superstars soon joined the ever-improving squad. The trophies were just around the corner.
You can relive all the magic of this era in my debut book ‘BLUE DAYS, The Transformation Of Chelsea Under Hoddle, Gullit & Vialli’, available on Amazon.
It’s been a fantastic start under Thomas Tuchel with clean sheets to add. With bigger tests to come, I just hope our fine form continues. I’m predicting a 2-1 Chelsea victory.
Come on Chelsea!
Written By Chris Wright (@chriswrightzz)
Edited by Rob Pratley