Keeping up appearances

Chelsea will come up against the Premier League’s all-time leading appearance-maker, Gareth Barry, on Monday night. But who leads the way for the Blues in the competition?

Since the English top flight was rebranded in 1992, West Brom midfielder Barry is the only man to have surpassed 650 appearances.

When he debuted in the Premier League on 2 May 1998, our starting line-up on the same day included Steve Clarke and Mark Hughes, both of whom are now approaching two decades in coaching or management, as well as Jody Morris, who now coaches our Under-18s. 

Since then, Barry has been racking up the appearances at a rate of knots, surpassing Ryan Giggs at the top of the Premier League list.

The man in third place, however, has a connection to Chelsea, and quite a big one at that. It is, of course, Frank Lampard, who has 609 appearances to his name. He also appears in fourth place on the list of all-time leading scorers, with 177.

Of his 609 matches, 429 of them came during his time with the Blues and they featured too many magical moments to list them all. One in particular, however, stands out above the rest. In April 2005, the Reebok Stadium was the location for two brilliant Lamps goals as Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions for the first time. 

He also appeared in 164 consecutive league matches, between 2001 and 2005, which set the record by an outfield player in the competition.

Lamps has to take second place in the list of Chelsea’s all-time Premier League appearances, though, and it will surprise absolutely no one to learn which man occupies top spot.

Unless he helps Aston Villa to promotion this season, John Terry’s entire top-flight career has been played out at Stamford Bridge and he shares a piece of history with Roy Bentley as the only players to captain Chelsea to the league title. But where Bentley succeeded once, JT did it an incredible five times. 

The homegrown centre-back actually made his Premier League debut as a central midfielder in a Boxing Day game against Southampton in 1998 and he had to wait until 2000/01 to become a regular in the side, but it's safe to say he didn't look back after that...

Next on the list is Petr Cech, who played exactly 333 matches for the Blues in the Premier League, with his 166 clean sheets almost providing the kind of statistical symmetry that Opta Joe can only dream of.

He’s followed by Branislav Ivanovic and Dennis Wise, who both have 261 appearances to their name, with Didier Drogba the only other man to surpass 250. 

At the other end of the scale, spare a thought for centre-forward Joe Sheerin. After scoring goals for the youth side and reserves, his career in Chelsea’s first team remains the shortest ever, as he came on for the final 30 seconds away to Wimbledon in April 1997.

Still, what would you give just to spend half a minute representing your beloved Blues?