Chelsea FanCast

9/19/2022

50 Years of Chelsea: 2003-2004 Pt 2

Stamford Chidge & Jonathan Kydd are joined by Chelsea authors Mark Meehan and Mark Worrall to look back at Chelsea's 2003-04 season.In part two we pick up the story in the New Year and as is traditional the focus was on the FA Cup. It took a replay to get past Watford and then a fraught 1-0 win away to lowly Scarbrough before a 5th round tie against our nemesis Arsenal. Jose Antonio Reyes two goals in the second half make it four years in a row that Arsenal knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup. Sickening, and made worse by a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the League days later. Would we ever beat Arsenal? At that moment it seemed unlikley.Meanwhile, Chelsea were progressing to the Champions League quarter finals courtesy of a 1-0 win away to Stuttgart Chelsea's 16th away win of the season and a new record. But who would their opponents be? Arsenal of course!Chelsea drew the first leg at home 1-1 in a cagey affair where Desailly was sent off. But could Chelsea do what no team had managed to do this season and beat Arsenal? In one of the most dramatic and memorable matches in the club's history, Chelsea won 2-1 with Wayne Bridge's winning goal (that sent us out of control) three minutes time meaning 17 games of hurt were now over. Arsenal players were on their knees and in tears and disbelief at the final whistle. Claudio Ranieri was in tears too and we were ecstatic. Joyous. The casualty of our European success was the league where a 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough, a 3-2 defeat away to Villa and 0-0 draw at home to Everton ended our title hopes. It all came down to the Champions' League semi-final, against unfancied Monaco, managed by former blue Didier Deschamps.In the away leg, under pressure Ranieri who had been called a 'dead man walking' for several weeks now, completely lost the plot. Not helped by having to play Ambrosio due to Cudicin's lengthy spell injured and some extraordinarily bizzarre substitutions when we should have held out for a 1-1 draw, the 3-1 defeat left Chelsea a mountain to climb in the second leg. This proved to be the case although Chelsea were unlucky to concede a goal thanks to Ibarra's hand on the stroke of half-time when 2-0 up and looking good. Ulitmately Chelsea and Ranieri had blown it in the first leg.A good 1-1 draw and a 1-0 defeat of Leeds to relegate them was enough to secure Chelsea's highest league position since 1955, but this was not enough for Abramovich as Ranieri's walk came to an end a few weeks later.
9/19/2022

50 Years of Chelsea: 2003-2004 Pt 1

Stamford Chidge & Jonathan Kydd are joined by Chelsea authors Mark Meehan and Mark Worrall to look back at Chelsea's 2003-04 season.On July 1st 2003, Chelsea and English football changed for ever. Roman Abramovich bought debt ridden Chelsea for £60m and then embarked on the biggest spending spree ever seen; £111m on 11 players including Glen Johnson; Wayne Bridge; Damien Duff; Geremi; Juan Sebastien Veron; Joe Cole; Adrian Mutu; Hernan Crespo and Claude Makalele. Surely this woudl mean a serious tilt at Chelsea's first league title since 1955?Claudio Ranieri remained manager and he must have felt like a kid in a sweet shop. The new look Chelsea started well with their first surprise defeat at home to Besiktas in the Champions' League and a less surprising but routinely disappointing defeat away to Arsenal in October. Nevertheless, Chelsea were top of the league in October and November with some impressive wins against Newcastle and Man Utd in the league and a 4-0 drubbing away to Lazio in the Champions League.However, December brought a couple of blips with the 2-1 defeat at home to Bolton and 4-2 defeat at Charlton which left Chelsea in 3rd at the end of the year. We had also been knocked out of the Carling Cup by Aston Villa who were third from bottom at the time.This was not what Roman Abramovich expected having spent a fortune on players, even though Chelsea had accrued their biggest points total ever for that stage of the season. Rumours abounded that Abramovich, aided by new Chief Executive Peter Kenyon were on the look out for a new manager, not helped with Sven Goran Erikson spotted next to Abramovich in the director's box. Maybe Ranieri had too many good players to choose from and as ever, could not resist the urge to tinker?All this while the best performing players were all players who were at the Club before Abramovich arrived, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Frank Lampard and John Terry all prominent.So, all to play for in the second half of the season, but could Chelsea hunt down Arsenal, who, ominously had yet to be beaten in the season thus far.