The 2009/10 season was a memorable one for Chelsea Football Club, a new manager in Carlo Ancelotti, a brilliant team and some amazing memories. It ended with the clubs first ever league and FA cup double, and saw us play some of the most exciting football of the Roman Abramovich era.
The big signing of the summer was a manager. Ancelotti, long coveted by Abramovich and Chelsea, arrived after 8 years at AC Milan where he’d won Serie A and, crucially, two Champions League titles.
There were no “marquee”, signings, however Chelsea stepped into the market to sign Yuri Zirkhov for £18m from CSKA Moscow. A young Daniel Sturridge arrived from Manchester City and goalkeeper Ross Turnbull signed on a free transfer. Also arriving was midfielder Nemanja Matic, for £1.5m (later to be sold before being bought back by Jose Mourinho). Going out, amongst many others, were striker Andriy Shevchenko, as well as Franco Di Santo and Scott Sinclair.
The season began with the Community Shield, Chelsea as FA Cup winners up against defending Champions Man Utd. The game was 2-2 after 90 mins, and Chelsea won 4-1. The first trophy of the season won.
Our league campaign began against Hull City at home, where we went 1-0 down before two goals by Didier Drogba secured victory, including a great lob over the keeper almost from the byline right at the death. Drogba goals would become a regular occurrence.
Chelsea proceeded to win their first six league games, scoring 15 goals in the process. Didier Drogba already had six of his own. Chelsea were three points clear at the top. Then the first blip of the season, a 2-0 home win v Liverpool was sandwiched between two away defeats, 3-1 to Wigan and 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Meanwhile Chelsea had also begun well in the Champions League, winning their first three group games convincingly. Then we played Atletico Madrid away, with speculation linking their star striker, a young Sergio Aguero, with Chelsea. This game ended 2-2, with Drogba and Aguero both scoring braces for their respective clubs. Nevertheless Chelsea finished top of their group, ahead of Porto. However in the last group game Michael Essien suffered a season ending injury.
Meanwhile in the league cup, Chelsea made it comfortably past QPR and Bolton before going out 4-3 on penalties to Blackburn after a 3-3 draw.
Chelsea soon got back to winning ways in the league, putting together another five game winning run, scoring 17 goals and only conceding one with some memorable victories, including 3-0 away at Arsenal with a typical Drogba brace – who can forget that free kick – and crucially, a 1-0 home win against Manchester United which took us five points clear of them, and two points clear of second placed Arsenal.
Then we had a poor run. Starting with a defeat Manchester City on 5th December, Chelsea won only seven of their next 14 games, losing three and drawing four, a troubling 4-2 defeat from City at home on 27 February bookended this run, which also included a familiar defeat at Goodison Park. However there were notable victories in this period, including a 7-2 demolition of Sunderland at home. It wouldn’t be the last time we scored bucketloads of goals in a home game. Ashley Cole was even cropping up with goals, scoring one of the goals of the season at home to Sunderland.
This run wasn’t helped by the fact Drogba, so key to this Chelsea side, was missing for part of January at the African Cup of Nations. Also missing at this time were defensive midfielder Mikel John Obi who’d played a key role at defensive midfield, and useful squad player Solomon Kalou – who scored 10 goals over the season. Essien being ruled out for the season was a blow too. Ashley Cole sustained an ankle injury which ruled him out for three months, Zhirkov having to deputise. At one point in the season, Chelsea had 10 first team squad members missing with injury.
The FA Cup began in January and Chelsea’s run was relatively smooth. Wins against Watford, Preston North End, Cardiff and Stoke sending Chelsea to another FA Cup Semi final, only conceding one goal and scoring 13.
Back in the Champions League, Chelsea were drawn against Inter Milan in the first knockout stage, Chelsea’s first competitive meeting with a Jose Mourinho team since his departure in 2007. After a 2-1 defeat in the away leg, our exit was sealed with a 1-0 defeat at home to a Samuel Eto’o goal. Inter subsequently went on to win the Champions League that season.
The 4-2 defeat to Man City to end this poor league run came immediately after our European exit, and it was clear the team were under pressure. Chelsea had been top of the league at Christmas, and for most of the season, but three games after the City defeat, Chelsea were down second in place behind Manchester United, despite a 4-1 defeat of West Ham and 5-0 win v Portsmouth.
But Ancelotti and Chelsea turned it around. After the City defeat we lost only one in our next 10 games. The win at Portsmouth began a run of seven wins in eight games, including, crucially, a 2-1 win at Old Trafford, a first win there since 2005. Before this game Chelsea were behind United, but this result changed the title race decisively.
During the title run-in we scored seven goals or more in a game three times in eight games. Against Aston Villa, Frank Lampard reached 150 Chelsea goals, by scoring four goals against Aston Villa in a 7-1 victory. It was to become his best goalscoring season for Chelsea.
In the FA Cup semi final, Chelsea met Villa again. This time there was no repeat of the 7-1, but Chelsea won convincingly 3-0, including goals from Lampard, Deco, and inevitably, Drogba.
Now the double was on. With two league games to go Chelsea were one point clear of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United and travelled to Anfield, never an easy game. A strong performance saw us win 2-0, with a penalty from Lampard decisive in sealing victory after a Drogba opener from a Steven Gerrard backpass.
This left Chelsea one point clear of Manchester United with one game to go, with a vastly superior goal difference. Chelsea had to play relegation threatened Wigan at home, and any kind of victory would ensure the title was coming back to the Bridge. Chelsea took the lead on eight minutes through Nicholas Anelka and by half time were 2-0 up and cruising. We then proceeded to score six in the second half, including a Drogba hat trick and brace from Kalou, to win 8-0, at that point our biggest ever top flight win, and comfortably wrap up our third Premier League title. Ancelotti became the first Italian manager to win the Premier League title.
All that remained was the FA Cup final, against Avram Grant’s Portsmouth. In a tight game, the deadlock was broken by, who else, Drogba, with sensational free kick to secure Chelsea’s first league and cup double.
It was a memorable season with some sensational football, lots of goals and some massive victories. Our top scorers were Didier Drogba, with 37 goals in 43 games, Frank Lampard with 26 in 50, with Anelka and Malouda both chipping in with 15 goals each. There were outstanding seasons also from the Chelsea defence, and the likes of Michael Ballack and Mikel in midfield and of course Petr Cech in goal. A variety of formations including the 4-4-2 diamond and 4-3-3 were both employed over the season.
Many of us wish the Ancelotti era had gone on a little longer, but there’s no doubt this was one of the best and most entertaining seasons in Chelsea’s history.
Written by The Score (@TheScore01)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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