Five, Ten, Fifteen

Contrasting games against the Canaries and a very welcome return were the themes of Chelsea stories this week five, 10 and 15 years ago…
 

Five

The Chelsea team of 2011/12 made it six away games without defeat this week five years ago although a 0-0 draw against Norwich was far from satisfying.

The result brought an end to a three-game winning run and although Andre Villas-Boas’s side had the better chances, we could not find a way through the Canaries defence which at this midway stage of the season, earned its first clean sheet.

Fernando Torres had the best opportunity to win the game in the second half but shot wide from close range, and by then there had already been the worrying sight of Frank Lampard limping off. As recalled in the last Five, Ten, Fifteen, the midfielder had found the target in the three previous games. New-signing Gary Cahill had not been included in the squad for Norwich. 

The chances of breaking down the East Anglians were not helped by Didier Drogba being away at the Africa Cup of Nations where he scored the only goal of the game against Sudan in Ivory Coast’s opening match.

After the Norwich match, the Chelsea players flew to Mallorca for five days training in warmer weather ahead of an FA Cup tie at QPR the following weekend, although Frank Lampard did not travel with the party due to his calf muscle tear that would keep him out for three games.  
 

Ten

It is rare that any good news could come out of a Chelsea defeat at Anfield but that was, for once, the case when the Blues lost 2-0 to Liverpool this week a decade ago.

Petr Cech made his return three months after his skull was fractured against Reading and it was testament to his resolve and hard work that he was able to play again that soon. For the first time the world saw the protective headgear that has become almost a personal trademark, and Cech’s task was made none the easier by injury and illness forcing Jose Mourinho to field a makeshift central defence ahead of him. Paulo Ferreira and Michael Essien were those asked to fill in. 

With Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt upfront, Liverpool were not backward at testing the stand-ins and our returning goalie with long balls forward, and after just three minutes, Crouch flicked on for his partner to volley a goal. Cech made a very good save another three minutes into the game but there was nothing he could do to prevent Jermaine Pennant smashing the second goal in off the bar from 25 yards out.

'There was a lot of pressure on me because I have not played for such a long time,' Cech said after the game.

'This was a big game and everyone was waiting to see how I would play. At this point I can be satisfied because I didn't make any mistakes and I felt comfortable in the goal. Unfortunately, we didn't start very well and we were punished when we conceded an early goal.

'Of course I am disappointed in the result but the feeling for me is a little different because for me it feels like a personal victory.’
 

Fifteen

It was the gasps that followed the replay shown on the big screens at Stamford Bridge which truly acclaimed one of the best goals ever scored at Stamford Bridge. Such was the audaciousness of Gianfranco Zola’s back-heeled, aerial volley on the run in an FA Cup replay against Norwich in 2002, many who witnessed it live were not certain what had just happened apart from a goal had been scored. That was until the chance to see the corner and improvised finish again was given.

The wonder strike was the third of four goals the Blues put past Rob Green, with Mario Stanic, Frank Lampard and Mikael Forssell also helping to send Claudio Ranieri’s side through to round four. Zola dedicated to his goal to a young boy he visited in a hospice who had since passed away. The Italian maestro had promised he would score a goal for him.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink missed the Norwich game but he was back in style at the weekend as the 4-0 win was followed up with a 5-1 league thrashing of West Ham. He smacked in a rebound after David James had saved to open the scoring before striker partner Eidur Gudjohnsen got in on the act. JFH caused chaos in the Hammers defence to make it 3-0.

it was all too much for Paolo Di Canio who lost the plot and got sent off for a stamp on Jody Morris. Gudjohnsen’s second and a goal from Forssell completed the Chelsea scoring in one of the best displays of the season. We were now sixth in the Premiership with fifth-place Leeds the next visitors in the league.