Best of the centurions
Inside Blue Thu 12 Apr 2018
N'Golo Kante made his 100th Premier League appearance on Sunday and his record at this stage of his career in England is up there with the very best.
He brought up his century in the top flight in our 1-1 draw with West Ham United at Stamford Bridge. It was his 28th game of his second season with Chelsea, having played 37 times in his one campaign with Leicester City before joining the Blues in 2016.
Having finished both of his full Premier League seasons so far as a champion, it is no surprise that his record in his first 100 games in the competition is pretty impressive, having finished on the winning side in 65 matches.
However, as good as that winning figure after 100 games is, it isn't quite enough to get him into Chelsea's top five of all time...
Didier Drogba – 76
The Ivorian striker arrived at Chelsea from Marseille in 2004 and, just like Kante, he picked up a winner's medal in both of his first two seasons in the Premier League. However, it was in his third campaign at Stamford Bridge that he really hit his stride and the back of the net. He scored 20 times in the league in 2006/07, claiming the Golden Boot for the first time, and becoming the first player to score the winning goals in the FA Cup and League Cup finals in the same year. His 100th Premier League game came in November of the next season and it was that match which secured his place at the top of this list, beating Wigan Athletic 2-0 at the JJB Stadium for win number 76.
Paulo Ferreira – 75
Just like Drogba, Ferreira came to Chelsea in the summer of 2004, following manager Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge from Porto after lifting the Champions League trophy. However, while he was still an important part of the side which won back-to-back Premier League titles in his first two seasons, it took him nearly two years longer than Drogba to reach 100 Premier League appearances for Chelsea. He did also get another win on the occasion of his century, though, as he came off the bench to replace Juliano Belletti in the 61st minute of a 5-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers in October 2009, one of several big victories we recorded on our way to claiming the club's first-ever domestic Double.
Petr Cech – 74
He might be the only goalkeeper on this list, but Cech is the third player to have joined Chelsea in 2004 and win more than 70 of his first 100 Premier League games. He was also the fastest of the trio to reach his century of appearances in the competition, just about, doing so exactly one week before Drogba, despite the career-threatening injury problems he suffered during that time. Given the Czech Republic international's huge respect for statistics, it would no doubt have given him plenty of satisfaction that he kept a clean sheet in his 100th game, especially given that it came in an emphatic 6-0 win over Manchester City at the Bridge in October 2007.
Claude Makelele – 74
Having joined Chelsea a year earlier than Drogba, Ferreira and Cech, unlike that trio and Kante, Makelele didn't have the benefit of being part of a Premier League-winning team in his debut season in England. However, both the 2005 and 2006 title victories did come within his first 100 appearances in the competition, reaching his century early in the 2006/07 campaign. The landmark arrived in his third Premier League game of that season, a 1-0 home win over Liverpool, with Drogba getting the only goal.
John Mikel Obi – 66
Rounding out the top five is the most recent of the players on the list, with Mikel arriving at Chelsea in 2006. Given that the Nigerian was still a teenager with only a handful of appearances in the Norwegian league to his name when he joined the Blues, it is impressive that he reached 100 Premier League appearances in just three-and-a-half seasons at Stamford Bridge. Like Ferreira, his century arrived during the 2009/10 campaign, but along with Kante he had to settle for a point on the day he reached the landmark, with the match against Birmingham at St Andrew's finishing 0-0. Every single point proved vital in that historic season, though, as we finished in first place ahead of Manchester United by exactly that slender margin, as Mikel won his first Premier League title.