English Football

We are the Champions – Chelsea 2014-15

chelsea 2014-15Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013 after almost six years away from the London club. In the intervening period, Chelsea continued to pick-up silverware, but they had won the Premier League just once, in 2010. In his first season back at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho surveyed his squad and declared that it was not strong enough to win the title. Chelsea finished third in 2013-14, but results against the top sides indicated they were closer to being contenders than Mourinho claimed.

In the summer of 2014, Chelsea made some very significant signings. Firstly, they addressed their shortcomings in the forward line. Over the past two years, big money signing Fernando Torres had failed to fulfil expectations and other, short-term – and ultimately unsuccessful – signings in the form of Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o were not part of Mourinho’s longer-term plans. Chelsea needed a marquee signing and in Diego Costa of Atletico Madrid, they found their man, paying £32 million to secure his services. Costa had scored prolifically for Atletico as they surprisingly won the Spanish championship in 2013-14.

Equally important was a creative midfield player who could replace the departing Frank Lampard. Cesc Fabregas was signed from Barcelona for £ 27 million, prompting his last English club, Arsenal to tear down his image on their stadium fascia. Mourinho went back to Atletico Madrid to sign Brazilian full-back Felipe Luis for £15.8 million, and also recalled on-loan goalkeeper, the Belgian Thibaut Courtois, from the same club. There was also a surprise return for veteran striker Didider Drogba, signed on a free transfer from Galatasaray. And just after the season got underway, Chelsea signed Loic Remy, a French international forward, from Queens Park Rangers, for £ 10.5 million.

A number of names left Chelsea, most notably popular centre back David Luiz, sold to Paris St. Germain for £50 million. Lampard and Ashley Cole, both England internationals, also departed to Manchester City and AS Roma respectively.

Chelsea started the season well, winning their first four games and scoring 15 goals. Costa began his Chelsea career spectacularly, netting seven goals in four games, including a hat-trick against Swansea City at Stamford Bridge and two goals in a 6-3 win at Everton.

This pace was difficult to maintain, although Chelsea hit the top spot from the start and stayed there all season. None of the main contenders could unsettle them. Although they dropped their first points in their fifth game – at Manchester City –  they comfortably beat Arsenal and Liverpool in the weeks that followed. It wasn’t until the 15th game that they lost their unbeaten record, surprisingly at Newcastle United at the beginning of December. On New Year’s Day, they were beaten at Tottenham by 5-3, largely due to an uncharacteristic performance in defence and an impressive display by Tottenham’s rising star, Harry Kane.

Into 2015, Chelsea exacted some revenge on their London neighbours when they beat Tottenham 2-0 at Wembley in the Football League Cup final. In the FA Cup, however, Chelsea were on the end of a major shock when they were beaten by Bradford City at home 2-4, this after going two goals ahead. Their UEFA Champions League run also ended with a surprise defeat at the hands of France’s Paris St. Germain.

Although the fluid football and confidence seemed to be missing in the new year, Chelsea continued to win games without being over-convincing. Nevertheless, Chelsea’s resilience, work rate and defensive qualities proved invaluable in the closing months of the season. Victories against Everton, West Ham, Stoke City, Hull City and Queens Park Rangers all underlined the Mourinho ethos of 100% effort for 90 minutes. By Easter, Chelsea had a seven point lead and the reigning champions, Manchester City, had all but dropped out of the title race. A late burst brought Arsenal into contention, but Arsene Wenger’s side had too much ground to make up.

Chelsea’s run-in, made more difficult by the absence of first choice strikers Costa and Remy, included a home game with Manchester United and a trip to Arsenal. Although their displays did little to endear them to the neutral, they came away with four points and two clean sheets. After beating Leicester City away, they opened up a 13-point lead with four games to play. The coronation of the new champions took place at Stamford Bridge on May 3 in the form of a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace. This left three games remaining and Chelsea, naturally, found it hard to maintain the adrenalin that had kept them going all season, drawing with Liverpool, losing at West Bromwich Albion and then ending with a 3-1 victory against Sunderland.

Chelsea had been top of the table for a record 274 days and in the end-of-season awards, they had six players – Ivanovic, Terry, Fabregas, Matic, Hazard and Costa – in the Professional Footballers’ Association’s team of the year. Their regular line-up was selected from: Courtois, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Fabregas, Matic, Hazard, Ramires, Oscar, Willian, Costa, Remy, Drogba.

Thibaut Courtois (22): Brought back from a loan spell with Atletico Madrid to replace Petr Cech as Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper. Joined Chelsea in 2011 from Belgium’s Genk, but spent three years in Spain. At 6ft 6in, one of the tallest keepers in world football. Established as Belgium’s number one and appeared in the 2014 World Cup.

Cesar Azpilicueta (24): Chelsea paid Marseille £ 7m for this Spanish full back in 2012. He started his career with Osasuna before joining the French club in 2010. Capped by his country, he appeared in Spain’s ill-fated defence of their World Cup crown in 2014.

Branislav Ivanovic (30): A popular and reliable defender who can be called upon to score vital goals from set-pieces, including the winner in the 2013 Europa League. This Serbian international signed for Chelsea in 2008 from Lokomotiv Moscow for just under £10m. Often under-rated, he is consistent and a tough opponent.

John Terry (34): Although no longer part of the England set-up, Terry was widely considered to be the best central defender in the country during 2014-15. The Premier title win was the fourth of his career with Chelsea and his form throughout was consistent, inspirational and vital to the club’s cause.

Gary Cahill (28): Joined Chelsea in January 2012 from Bolton Wanderers, costing the club some £ 7million. He had previously played for Aston Villa and Burnley and Sheffield United on loan. By the end of the campaign he had appeared more than 30 times for England in the heart of defence.

Cesc Fabregas (27): Chelsea paid £ 30m to Barcelona to acquire the services of former Arsenal midfielder Fabregas in the summer of 2014. Capped almost 100 times by Spain, he was a member of the team that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012. At Barcelona he developed into one of Europe’s top midfielders.

Eden Hazard (23): Belgian international winger/midfielder who enjoyed an outstanding third season in Chelsea’s colours and won both the Football Writers’ Association and Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year awards. Joined Chelsea in 2012 from Lille for a £ 32m fee after being named Ligue 1’s players of the year in both 2011 and 2012. Capped more than 50 times by his country, he appeared in the 2014 World Cup.

Willian (26): Joined Chelsea in August 2013 from Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala for £ 32m. Had earlier impressed against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League for Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk. Played for Brazil in the 2014 World Cup and had a much better campaign than his debut season for the Jose Mourinho’s team.

Ramires (27): Chelsea paid £22m to Benfica for Brazilian Ramires in 2010. Capped over 50 times by Brazil, he has often been an unsung hero in the Chelsea side, although Jose Mourinho clearly appreciated his hard-working and determined style. Was unlucky to miss Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League triumph through suspension.

Nemanja Matic (26): Serbian international who was one of the key figures in Chelsea’s Premier title win, defensive midfielder Matic returned to Chelsea in January 2014 from Benfica for a fee of £ 21m. He had previously been signed by the club in 2009 from Slovak club Kosice for £ 1.5m, but failed to make the breakthrough at Chelsea and moved to Benfica in January 2011 as part of the deal that took David Luiz to London.

Oscar (22): Brazilian midfielder who joined Chelsea in 2012 from Internacional for £ 19m, making his full debut in the UEFA Champions League against Juventus and scoring two spectacular goals. A talented playmaker, he missed the finale to the season through injury. Capped more than 40 times by Brazil, including the World Cup 2014.

Diego Costa (25): Costa’s aggressive style and prolific goalscoring made a huge difference to Chelsea in 2014-15. Signed in the summer of 2014 from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, he cost Chelsea £32m. Born in Brazil, he opted for Spanish nationality and was part of the 2014 World Cup squad. He scored 20 Premier League goals in 26 appearances, but his first season was punctuated by injury, especially in the second half of the campaign.

Loic Remy (27): Signed from Queens Park Rangers at the start of the season for £10.5m. Remy, an established French international, moved from Marseille to QPR in 2013 and had previously played for Nice, Lyon and Lens. Although his scoring record was respectable, he was always in the shadow of Costa and, to some extent, Didier Drogba.

Didier Drogba (36): Legendary forward whose penalty kick won Chelsea the Champions League in 2012. Returned to the club in 2014 after two seasons in China and Turkey. Originally joined Chelsea in 2004 from Marseille and was an important part of the club’s title winning years in 2005, 2006 and 2010 – scoring over 100 Premier goals in the process. Ivory Coast international with over a century of caps.

Premier League Appearances and Goalscorers

Ake, N 0+1 Drogba, D 8+20 Ramires 11+12
Azpilicueta, C 29 Fabregas, C 33+1 Remy, L 5+13
Brown, I 0+1 Hazard, E 38 Salah, M 0+3
Cahill, G 33+3 Ivanovic, B 38 Schurrle, A 5+9
Cech, P 6+1 Loftus-Cheek, R 2+1 Terry, J 38
Christensen, A 0+1 Luis, F 9+6 Willian 28+8
Costa, D 24+2 Matic, N 36+1 Zouma, K 7+8
Courtois, T 32 Mikel, J 6+12
Cuadrado, J 4+8 Oscar 24+2

Goalscorers: Costa 20, Hazard 14, Remy 7, Oscar 6, Terry 5, Drogba 4, Ivanovic 4, Fabregas 3, Schurrle 3, Ramires 2, Willian 2, Matic 1, Cahill 1, Own Goal 1 Total: 73

 

Premier League Results

Aug 8 Burnley Away W 3-1 Costa, Schurrle, Ivanovic 20,699
Aug 23 Leicester City Home W 2-0 Costa, Hazard 41,604
Aug 30 Everton Away W 6-3 Costa 2, Ivanovic, Ramires, OG, Matic 39,402
Sept 13 Swansea City Home W 4-2 Costa 3, Remy 41,400
Sept 21 Manchester City Away D 1-1 Schurrle 45,602
Sept 27 Aston Villa Home W 3-0 Oscar, Costa, Willian 41,616
Oct 5 Arsenal Home W 2-0 Hazard – pen, Costa 41,607
Oct 18 Crystal Palace Away W 2-1 Oscar, Fabregas 24,451
Oct 26 Manchester United Away D 1-1 Drogba 75,327
Nov 1 Queens Park Rangers Home W 2-1 Oscar, Hazard – pen 41,486
Nov 8 Liverpool Away W 2-1 Cahill, Costa 44,698
Nov 22 West Bromwich Albion Home W 2-0 Costa, Hazard 41,600
Nov 29 Sunderland Away D 0-0 45,232
Dec 3 Tottenham Hotspur Home W 3-0 Hazard, Drogba, Remy 41,518
Dec 6 Newcastle United Away L 1-2 Drogba 52,019
Dec 13 Hull City Home W 2-0 Hazard, Cahill 41,626
Dec 22 Stoke City Away W 2-0 Terry, Fabregas 27,550
Dec 26 West Ham United Home W 2-0 Terry, Costa 41,589
Dec 28 Southampton Away D 1-1 Hazard 31,641
Jan 1 Tottenham Hotspur Away L 3-5 Costa, Hazard, Terry 35,903
Jan 10 Newcastle United Home W 2-0 Oscar, Costa 41,612
Jan 17 Swansea City Away W 5-0 Oscar 2, Costa 2, Schurrle 20,785
Jan 31 Manchester City Home D 1-1 Remy 41,620
Feb 7 Aston Villa Away W 2-1 Hazard, Ivanovic 35,969
Feb 11 Everton Home W 1-0 Willian 41,582
Feb 21 Burnley Home D 1-1 Ivanovic 41,629
Mar 4 West Ham United Away W 1-0 Hazard 34,927
Mar 15 Southampton Home D 1-1 Costa 41,624
Mar 22 Hull City Away W 3-2 Hazard, Costa, Remy 24,598
Apr 4 Stoke City Home W 2-1 Hazard – pen, Remy 41,098
Apr 12 Queens Park Rangers Away W 1-0 Fabregas 17,939
Apr 18 Manchester United Home W 1-0 Hazard 41,442
Apr 26 Arsenal Away D 0-0 60,066
Apr 29 Leicester City Away W 3-1 Drogba, Terry, Ramires 32,021
May 3 Crystal Palace Home W 1-0 Hazard 41,566
May 10 Liverpool Home D 1-1 Terry 41,547
May 18 West Bromwich Albion Away L 0-3 24,750
May 24 Sunderland Home W 3-1 Costa – pen, Remy 2 41,620

FA Cup: Round Four
Football League Cup: Winners
UEFA Champions League: Last 16
Average home attendance: 41,546

Pos   P W D L F A Pts
1 Chelsea 38 26 9 3 73 32 87
2 Manchester C 38 24 7 7 83 38 79
3 Arsenal 38 22 9 7 81 36 75

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s