Sunday 2 May
Liverpool 0:2 Chelsea
To start with Chelsea champions: Miroslav Stoch and Slobodan Rajkovic both on loan at FC Twente are the first two Chelsea players to lift silverware this season. Stoch contributing the second goal as Twente won 0-2 at NAC Breda meaning Ajax couldn’t catch them. It is the Enschede side’s first title in 80 years and completes repairs to Steve McClaren’s reputation.
Miroslav has contributed fully to the whole campaign with only a few dips into injury or poor form. He scored 12 times in 45 appearances. Slobodan has had fewer chances to break into a settled defence but has played his part.
The other group of Chelsea players hoping to land a title started poorly against a surprisingly competitive Liverpool. Terry came back in from suspension last week was the only change from Stoke but the side looked disjointed from the off as Liverpool found space and loose balls, especially from Ballack and Malouda, who appeared to have been reading his own press at just the wrong time: giving away cheap possession and being booked for an unnecessary high boot.
The conspiracy theory suggested that Liverpool didn’t want to win certainly their support seemed apathetic but if that were true Aquilani was measuring his angles carefully as he belted in a shot the skimmed the bar. Gerard made a couple of penetrating runs before Aquilani again found space in the box but Ivanovic closed quickly and nipped the ball away.
Then Steven Gerard won the title for Chelsea under no pressure he played a casual back-pass and a flash later Drogba had rounded the ’keeper to score. Thank you all so very much indeed. 0-1. Celebrations were a touch mental but you can forgive players and fans who can see the promised land through the gloom.
We should have buried the game in the next ten-minute spell. First Lampard, set up by one of a dozen penetrative runs from Kalou, shot wide. Then as Lampard set up Anelka only for a Kyrgiakos foot to toe the ball behind.
Kalou was starting to look like a star player as he broke into the box from Malouda’s pass only to be tripped by Lucas. There was clear contact with the Liverpool player but the ref was unmoved. Another of those situations where the laws demand either a penalty or a booking for simulation and yet neither appeared.
The penalty incident was right on half-time and an award would have started the party early, as it was optimism was infectious.
The second-half started as the first had ended: Kalou breaking down the left, into the box and his fizzed cross was simply too quick for Anelka to convert.
The second duly arrived when Drogba chipped the ball over and Anelka laid the ball in for Lampard to score. 0-2. Party time kin the stands and for the players who celebrated like they’d won the league already. Even some of the Liverpool supporters seemed to be cheering the lesser of two evils.
There were a few scares: when Terry attempted to chest the ball away from Babel it needed a quick reaction from Alex to prevent the Dutchman scoring.
Chances started to rack up on the break. Malouda smashed a volley that Reina miraculously got a hand to, he punched away a Ballack free-kick and he was lucky to recover in time after he parried Anelka’s shot and Kalou charged in for the rebound.
The result meant Sunderland could win us the league by beating Manchester United but a streaky 0-1 win will keep us honest for the last home game. Ferguson admitted after their game that they were clutching at straws.
Tuesday 4 May
FA Youth Cup Final, second-leg
Chelsea youth 2:1 Aston Villa youth
For the first time since before many of us were born the young Blues clinched the FA Youth Cup. Three wins from five finals sounds a better statistic than the 49 years between wins.
The game was a fantastic occasion for the young team, level at 1-1 from the first leg 12,000 fans turned up to watch Chelsea’s first silverware of the season.
As at Villa Park last Thursday, Chelsea started brightly but Villa took the lead. Tony McAndrew had clearly learned from the first leg as his Villa side set out to close down from the front and match numbers in midfield.
Their goal will have disappointed Dermot Drummy. As a cross came in from the right the Chelsea coach would have expected his most experienced player to clear, instead Kofi Poyser guided a header into the far top corner with Jeffrey Bruma a spectator. 0-1.
Belief however never wavered, the crowd was in fine voice and Chelsea continued to press. Villa’s chances were few and far between as Josh McEachran and Connor Clifford dominated the midfield play. The Equaliser came after an hour when McEachran split the defence and Sala delivered from wide left for Mitrovic to bundle home. 1-1.
There was only one winner from here. Villa managed a couple of corners but nothing too threatening before Connor Clifford thumped one from the edge of the area for the winner. 2-1.
The final whistle was delayed when Kaby was flattened and stayed down. As the minutes passed and the treatment continued fears grew. Finally, the youngster was stretchered off and taken to hospital. The doom-laden tannoy asked the parents of Kaby Djalo to report to the stewards, we feared the worst.
That announcement came after the medals and cup where handed out. Overall it was a cracking night out and all for a fiver; £3 to get in and £2 your programme.
Sunday 9 May
Chelsea 8:0 Wigan Athletic
Champions. All the tension of the build-up, all the goals, all of the drinking and singing Celery until three o’clock in the morning collectively mean we can’t remember very much. The garden of the Maltster, blur, a very refined Dr. from Belgium, blur, an Australian bar maid (isn’t there always), blur, Two Danish Chelsea fans on the night bus through Victoria (remember you said you’d mention FC Randers).
Watching it back on Match of the Day, the afternoon seems to have gone something like this:
The match started with tension and the players didn’t seem to be able to pass to each other, Wigan were compact and moved the ball neatly without actually threatening. With only five minutes on the clock thankfully one Chelsea player had his head on and, not for the first time in recent weeks, Salomon Kalou took the ball from Lampard and ran toward their box where he was tripped for his trouble. Drogba smashed the ball into the wall but Lampard headed back in Malouda chested down for Nicolas Anelka to volley home; yes Malouda was offside, no we don’t care either. 1-0.
Still Wigan dominated possession and territory. Chelsea didn’t seem able to pass to each other. Anelka managed one telling cross that Ashley Cole tried a flying flick in with his instep. Ash is many things but not yet a Zolaesque predator and he missed the ball entirely.
The second finally arrived when another Kalou run fed Drogba who found Lampard breaking into the box. Gary Caldwell hauled him down and the decision for both penalty and red card were academic. There was some petulance from Didier who had/had not been promised the chance to take penalties but Lampard asserted his right and scored. 2-0.
Leading by two with the opposition down to ten, not even Chelsea could screw it up from here. The half-time metaphorical Bovril has never tasted so sweet.
Kalou confirmed the transformation of his stature at the club by latching onto the third, he played a clever one two with Lampard, one touch, and he dispatched the return pass with aplomb. 3-0. Salomon was then booked for taking his shirt off in celebration because he is a plumb. The goal took Manchester United’s record for goals scored in a Premier League season to 98.
99 was close behind Drogba’s burning desire to win the golden boot meant he was first to everything this time the throw which allowed Ivanovic to cross for Anelka to volley in, in style. 4-0.
Joe Cole came on for Kalou and Belletti replaced Ivanovic and Joe’s first involvement was to set up a Drogba shot. His second was to cross for Didier to slam in an overhead kick which Pollitt saved superbly but he didn’t get the ball out of play and Lampard crossed the ball high to the back post for Didier to head home. 5-0 and the golden boot for the big, sulky Ivorian and 100 goals for the season.
The next came as Ashley Cole slid into the box and slid under the challenge of Mario Melchiot, Drogba lifted the goal off its frame with the penalty that whacked in off the post. 6-0
Drogba then almost tripped the ball in as a rebound from a Joe Cole shot found him unmarked. 7-0.
Carlo finally gave us a wave at this point. The crowd had long since lost it, most danced for the whole of the second-half, sang, threw celery about. We want eight.
Eight arrived when Joe Cole (sign him up, sign him up, sign him up) crossed for Ashley Cole to volley home. 8-0. The first time we’ve scored eight in the top flight, the first team since 1961 to score one hundred goals.
The final whistle was the spark for pandemonium. There hasn’t been a party like it since 2006 when we beat Manchester United 3-0 to secure the title.
The added bonus for those not there on Tuesday night was a lap of honour for the youth team with the FA Youth Cup. It was a chance for the whole of Stamford Bridge to applaud the stars of the future. Connor Clifford, Jeffrey Bruma and Josh McEachran will all be breaking through over the next couple of years and there is enough talent in the squad for three or four others to come through.
The trophy presentation was a blur the laps of honour delirious.
John Terry summed it all up after the match: “I’ve been hurting inside for three years seeing United with it, and every one of us was sitting there feeling the same thing. It’s their turn to sit and watch today.”
Apparently in Manchester they held a lap of appreciation.
Saturday 15 May
Football Association Challenge Cup,
Chelsea 1:0 Portsmouth
The double is sealed in the craziest cup final in years. It had everything: shots on the woodwork, fine saves, glaring misses, penalties and one decisive goal. Oh, and the kind if pitch you find down Hackney marshes.
Frank Lampard looked determined to open the scoring, sending a few sighters before, in the thirteenth minute, he clipped the post with a long-range effort with James scrambling. Anelka quickly found room for a shot that James turned round for a corner. Then a fine move on twenty minutes, as the team worked the ball to Drogba in space but both of his shots are athletically blocked by Mokoena. Portsmouth, especially O’Hara had been getting away with some hefty hacking in the opening exchanges. They decided to contribute at the other end when a quick break left us scrambling and Boateng’s shot should have been turned in by Frederick Piquionne but Cech threw up an instinctive hand to claw the effort away.
“And Kalou must score”, Ashley Cole danced into the box and laid the ball across for Kalou unmarked and a few feet away from the goal. He hit the cross bar.
Next up for the crossbar trick was John Terry, Malouda’s deep free-kick found the salmon like skipper heading at the far post, of course, it hit the bar and away.
Boateng then hacked down Michael Ballack in a sick and calculated attempt at revenge after a bit of girly shoving between to two earlier. Ballack stays down for an age and fails to run it off and is replaced by Juliano Belletti.
Drogba then slams a free-kick from thirty yards against the bar and down on the line. James actually got a hand on it to make it a stunning save.
Didier was next to hit the post as he tucked the ball under the advancing James the ball skewed off the post for a goal kick. To hit the woodwork five times in one half is an unusual boast and ensures that this cup final will be forever remembered as the final when we hit the woodwork five times. Tyldesley will use it every year as soon as a team hit the bar or post he’ll be unable to stop himself: “of course, Jim, Chelsea hit the woodwork five times in a single final”.
Portsmouth started brightly after the interval, pressing but not making much headway. The Belletti decides to stick out a leg on Aruna Dindane for a clear penalty. Boateng lines up the strike but somehow scuffs the ball straight and Cech blocks away with his feet.
A relieved Chelsea clear the corner up top Drogba who is slashed down 25 yards out. The free-kick flies through a gap in the wall and smashes against the post and in. 1-0. Didier has now scored in seven cup finals.
Kalou had another shy this time after Ivanovic made some space but he was wide and made way for a Joe Cole cameo.
Joe Cole could have scored when Drogba fed him after his own shot was blocked but the defender closed before Joe could react.
Everyone is looking desperately tired as Lampard runs into the box a tired Portsmouth defender cannot do better than bring him down for the game’s second penalty.
Frank Lampard steps up but drags a weak effort wide of the left hand upright.
The game dwindled to a close after that everyone too knackered to play. Daniel Sturridge got a run in the last few minute and Frank had a shot to redeem himself but dragged it tiredly wide.
Final whistle provoked more scenes of wild celebration. Pompey fans stayed and cheered their team so Chelsea lifted the cup in a near full stadium. The presentation out of the way and Carlo Ancelotti can reflect on a season of near perfection, he joins Dave Sexton, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli, Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink in winning the FA Cup but he is the only manager who has ever done the double.
Ashley Cole reached two milestones; with six he has now won the cup more than anyone else, ever. He is also completing the double with a second club, a feat Anelka matched. We become only the sixth team to retain the trophy and the seventh team to win both league and FA Cup.