Five, Ten, Fifteen

The domestic cups and a 50-games a season man were the theme of Chelsea stories this week five, 10 and 15 years ago…
 

Five

In this week five years ago we enjoyed a very solid start to an FA Cup campaign in a season when we would go on to triumph at Wembley, and the opposition in the third round in 2012 was the club the Blues had defeated in the final two years earlier – Portsmouth.

Back then a single goal had been enough to lift the trophy and a Juan Mata tap-in looked to be doing the job in the Stamford Bridge third-round tie, but then Andre Villas-Boas’s side really kicked for home with three more goals in the final 10 minutes. Fernando Torres twice set up the energetic Ramires to score against a tiring Pompey and Frank Lampard, for the second game running, netted late in the game. 

'Especially with the recent results we had at home, we know that there is anxiety in the crowd when you don't get the result in the first half,' said Florent Malouda who had created Mata’s goal,' so we had to be patient and keep the right balance of not conceding a goal and then trying to score the first goal, and after the first try to carry on.  

'We have a lot of important games coming and to have a positive mentality you need the results, so it is very important, especially with the home games, to be able to win every time.’

The reward for the 4-0 win was a short trip to QPR in the fourth round, but next up it was Sunderland at home in the Premier League. This time it stayed 1-0 after Lampard’s third goal in as many games was scored early on. The win was also the third in a row for the team at the start of 2012 after four without one at the end of the previous year. There was the added bonus of a return for Michael Essien after five months out injured. 
 

Ten

It was the other domestic cup that first occupied Chelsea in this week in 2007. That Jose Mourinho’s side had made the semi-finals of the League Cup was no surprise but it was less expected we would face Wycombe Wanderers from League Two when we got there.

An injury and suspension-afflicted Blues took the lead in the first leg away from home, Wayne Bridge, usually a full-back but asked to play in the front three, running through and lobbing the keeper. Blood-splattered from a facial injury, he was later replaced by Frank Lampard who made his 300th Chelsea appearance. 

Wycombe equalised in the second half and 1-1 was how it finished with the second leg to come 13 days later.

'How can I criticise Ferreira and Essien for the Wycombe goal?' Mourinho asked after the game.

'I cannot do it. I think for people who never play in central defence, they did their best. It is not easy. Bridge playing outside-left, he did his part, Kalou playing injured, he did also his part.

'We have problems but this is about surviving and waiting for a better squad situation - but we are surviving well.'

Lampard received an award from Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck before the league game that followed at the weekend, to mark his 300-game milestone. The midfielder was averaging over 50 games a season, and appropriately he opened the scoring with a free-kick as the team managed far more than mere survival, walloping Wigan 4-0 at the Bridge. Arjen Robben, a Chris Kirkland own-goal and Didier Drogba late on completed the scoring. 
 

Fifteen

Claudio Ranieri’s Blues had finished 2001 strongly with four wins out of five, punctuated by a Chelsea, under the command of Claudio Ranieri, were also in League Cup action this week in 2002. The first-leg came first on this occasion and the opposition was from the top flight – the no-small matter of a derby against Tottenham.

We earned a lead to take to White Hart Lane largely thanks to two fine efforts from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who did like a goal against Spurs. 

Those made it 27 games undefeated against them but Tottenham had also scored and unfortunately, the 2-1 lead proved not nearly enough. Before the second leg stress however, there were two league games sandwiching an FA Cup replay, and for the first of those matches we were up north at Bolton, where Eidur Gudjohnsen gave us the lead against his former club.

Mikael Forssell also scored but on each occasion Bolton pegged the Blues back and maintaining the balance, John Terry both cleared off the line and had a shot similarly kept out. It ended 2-2 and we stayed in sixth.