Five, Ten, Fifteen
feature Fri 27 Jan 2017
Cup games in London were the themes of Chelsea stories this week five, 10 and 15 years ago…
As is the case with the present day, this week five years ago served up a west London derby in the fourth round of the FA Cup but on this occasion it was Chelsea making the short journey. We travelled four miles north across the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to where awaited QPR and a chance to make up for a 1-0 defeat in the league there three months earlier.
1-0 was again the final score in the FA Cup meeting but happily the goal was scored by Juan Mata. An hour was gone when he dispatched the decisive penalty, awarded for a push on Daniel Sturridge.
It was a decision Rangers disputed but it looked no more questionable than the one that did not go in favour of the same player a few minutes earlier, and indeed the spot-kick given to QPR back in October which had settled the league game.
In what was a game of great local rivalry for the home side, there was some surprise they did not fill the stadium but at the end the whole Chelsea team went down to applaud the away end, knowing a high hurdle had been cleared on the way to ultimate success in this cup run.
‘I am very happy with this penalty and with this win because it was a very difficult game for us,’ said Mata. 'The FA Cup is a special competition for every team and from now we are going to put all our commitment and effort into winning it.'
It was both domestic cups occupying the Blues this week a decade ago and we progressed through to our fifth League Cup final by making light work of League Two Wycombe Wanderers in the semi-final second leg.
Jose Mourinho’s enforced under-strength side had only managed a 1-1 draw in the away game but back at the Bridge, two goals each from Andriy Shevchenko (pictured top and right) and Frank Lampard did the business, coupled with a clean sheet on Petr Cech’s 100 appearance and his first game at home since his comeback from a serious head injury.
A few days later came a home FA Cup tie, this time against a side from a division above Wycombe – Nottingham Forest.
'I don't know about the Forest team as much as I know about other teams because I have never played against them,' said Cech, looking ahead to the match.
'But the story of the club is great, one of the best teams in the past. They have had really difficult years but now they are fighting for promotion again - and maybe they see the FA Cup as something where they can remind fans what the club is all about.
'The last game [against Wycombe] we won 4-0 with a clean sheet. We played well in defence and I hope we can keep going and Sunday's game will be the same.'
His wish pretty much came true. Three first-half goals saw off Forest, the first a deflected effort from Sheva, with Didier Drogba curling in a free-kick soon after. He had already reached 22 for the season. On the stroke of half-time, John Mikel Obi scored his second Chelsea goal, his first having been in the previous FA Cup round.
Both the cup campaigns in 2007 mentioned above would go the full course and in 2002 the FA Cup run made it to the final too, but this week 15 years ago the League Cup quest came to an end in circumstances Blues fans wish to forget.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, we went to White Hart Lane undefeated against Spurs in the previous 27 games and 11 years. However, a very rare hesitation from the young John Terry allowed the home side to go ahead on a minute and a bad start got worse when a Teddy Sheringham challenge cut Bolo Zenden’s thigh to the bone. The game ended in a traumatic 5-1 defeat with our goal not coming until the 88th minute. There was even a mistaken identity red card early in the second half, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s dismissal later transferred to Mario Melchiot. We would play Spurs twice more in 2001/02 with very different results.
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.
Three days later the Blues stayed alive in the FA Cup but would need to win at Upton Park in a replay after West Ham, who had lost 5-1 at the Bridge the previous weekend, left with a 1-1 draw this time. They cancelled out Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s opener late on but at least their star man Paolo Di Canio, who was sent off in the 5-1, would now be suspended for the FA Cup rematch. These were the days when there was a two-week gap after the offence before a ban kicked in.