The season starts here…and raring to go for the nine months ahead, club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton load up on facts and figures…
It was 108 years ago in the Chelsea FC Chronicle Frederick Parker heralded London’s new football team with the words: ‘They’re off!’ The first league visitors to Stamford Bridge were the same Hull we welcome on Sunday. Here’s hoping for a similar result – 5-1 to the hosts.
It was many years before Chelsea’s players had a lion badge on their chests but Hull’s owners have recently elevated ‘Tigers’ from nickname to international brand. So perhaps the old riddle about who wins the fights when Tigers encounter lions has a new answer – the usual one is that as the beasts live in different continents they never meet.
Chelsea, as every young Blue knows, have doubled our pride of mascots with Bridget the Lioness joining Stamford the Lion on matchdays this season. (By the way, there’s little chance of a royal blue cub story as they’re just good friends.)
Hull’s promotion as runners-up brings them into Chelsea’s territory for the first time since the first match of 2009/10 at the Bridge. It is fair to say that among home supporters this is now one of the most eagerly awaited games. We had the Special One a few years before that 2-1 victory; this will be special too.
The squad has been judiciously resculpted over the summer and it was already a successful one bursting with the promise of more to come. Following the heroics in Amsterdam the Blues are one of just four clubs who have won all the major UEFA trophies and stand alone among English clubs in that respect.
The second coming of the most successful manager in our history – and the first to return – has increased expectations. Yet Jose Mourinho is sensible to take the heat out of the hope. The recruits and returnees of close season 2013 are not the off-the-peg stars of 2004; their headlines remain largely in the future. What survives from the first Mourinho era is a core of his champions and a winning mentality. The Portuguese’s challenge is to mould his group into title challengers.
He attempts that in a transformed Premier League. Gone after a quarter century is Sir Alex Ferguson and his influence. Across Manchester the more free-spirited Manuel Pellegrini has succeeded defence-minded Roberto Mancini. Liverpool have a Mourinho acolyte, Brendan Rodgers, at the helm.
In fact the winning coaches in the French, German and Spanish leagues, as well as Champions League, Europa League (obviously), FA Cup and League Cup all left their clubs in the close season. Arsene Wenger, though, still holds what Jose previously dubbed the easiest job in football.
Sunday’s opposition boss will be familiar though. In a small moment of symmetry, present Hull boss Steve Bruce was the first to host Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004. Back then, having watched his Birmingham City side lose out to a late-ish goal from substitute Joe Cole, he was mightily impressed.
‘They have got to be contenders,’ said the former Manchester United skipper. ‘They have catapulted themselves up there in the space of 12 months. Mr Abramovich wants to win the title and win everything in sight and when you look at the array of talent they have got it is quite staggering.
‘But it will not be easy to buy a team that can beat Arsenal and Manchester United. They have been building their squads for the best part of 10 years. I think Jose Mourinho knew before he walked into the job at Chelsea that he has to win the league. He seems confident enough to take it on.’
Previously, as manager of Huddersfield, Brum, Wigan and Sunderland Bruce has only tasted victory twice in 20 matches against the Blues. On top of that, the Tigers have not won a point away from home on the opening day since 2001.
They nearly fluffed their promotion lines last season, failing to win any of their last four matches. But Bruce is a canny operator and has wheeled and dealt sensibly these last few months, culminating in the record fee signature of wardrobe-like central midfielder Tom Huddlestone from Spurs.
Chelsea have struggled to break down obdurate, park-the-bus opponents in recent years and Mourinho has had just a short while to instil his methodology. The first team line-up, albeit compromised by the travails of international match travel, will be fascinating. The transfer window remains open till 2 September.
Supporters might note a couple of innovations this season. Hawk-Eye’s goal decision system is in use for the first time, detecting when a ball has crossed a goalline through the use of mapping software and multiple cameras.
The images produced are currently barred from stadium and TV screens and there is no cricket DRS-style human intervention – the computers make the decisions and alert officials via a strap-on sensor. The system will not be called upon during Champions League matches at Stamford Bridge as UEFA has not ratified the technology.
The FA has also relaxed rules on retrospective punishment, allowing more ‘not seen incidents’ to be reviewed by its ominous-sounding Governance Department. Only ‘unseen, off the ball’ incidents such as elbowing, punching, spitting (or biting) will be reviewed, however, rather than excessive tackles that were clocked but went unpunished.
|Win Percentages of Chelsea Managers 1905-2013 (100+ matches)||Games||Win %|
Chelsea have won 10 of the last 11 opening day games and 12 of the last 14. 2011’s goalless draw at Stoke and the 1-1 draw against Newcastle in 2001 were the only occasions we failed to win all three points.
Since the formation of the Premier League the Blues have managed 13 wins, three defeats and five draws over the first weekend. Our last defeat was at Highfield Road in 1998 when Coventry City beat us 2-1.
Chelsea and Aston Villa are the only teams scheduled to play next midweek (Wednesday 21 August) as a result of Chelsea’s involvement in the UEFA Super Cup on Friday 30 August.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Liverpool v Stoke 12.45pm – BT Sport
Arsenal v Aston Villa 3pm
Norwich v Everton 3pm
Sunderland v Fulham 3pm
West Brom v Southampton 3pm
West Ham v Cardiff 3pm
Swansea v Manchester Utd 5.30pm – Sky Sports
Crystal Palace v Tottenham 1.30pm – Sky Sports
Chelsea v Hull 4pm – Sky Sports
Manchester City v Newcastle 8pm – Sky Sports
Jose Mourinho remains undefeated as Chelsea manager in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
Goals for: 123
Goals against: 28
Win ratio: 77 per cent
Chelsea have won 12 and drawn three of our last 15 at the Bridge, since our last defeat to Swansea in the League Cup semi-final on 9 January.
Chelsea are unbeaten in the Premier League in 10 games, winning 20 points from the last 24.
Chelsea have lost just three of the last 73 games against newly promoted teams, in 12 and a half years. We have won 57 of those matches.
Last season’s Premier League stats
Most starts: Petr Cech 36, Branislav Ivanovic 33, Ashley Cole, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata 31
Most goals: Frank Lampard 15 (5 pens), Juan Mata 12, Eden Hazard 9
|Jul 17||Singha All Stars (Bangkok)||W 1-0|
|Jul 21||Malaysia XI (Kuala Lumpur)||W 4-1|
|Jul 25||BNI Indonesia All Stars (Jakarta)||W 8-1|
|Aug 1||Inter Milan (Indianapolis)||W 2-0|
|Aug 4||AC Milan (New Jersey)||W 2-0|
|Aug 7||Real Madrid (Miami)||L 1-3|
|Aug 10||Roma (Washington DC)||W 2-1|
Pre-season scorers (20)
Lukaku 5 (1 pen), Ramires 3, De Bruyne 2, Hazard 2 (1 pen), Traore 2, Ba 1, Lampard 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1, Schurrle 1, Terry 1.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 9
|Wed 21 Aug||Aston Villa home||7.45pm|
|Mon 26 Aug||Manchester United away||8pm|
|Fri 30 Aug||Bayern Munich (UEFA Super Cup) Prague||7.45pm|
If he features, Frank Lampard will be making a record 18th appearance in an opening day Premier League fixture. He has played the first match in 17 consecutive seasons, dating back to his first full campaign as a West Ham player in 1996/97.
If selected, Eden Hazard will make his 50th start for the Blues.
Hull were formed in 1904 and never played in the top flight until 2008.
Last season they were runners-up in the Championship behind champions Cardiff City.
Hull scored 61 goals in 46 league matches last term, an average of 1.32 goals per game, which was fewer than any other team in the top 12.
Their defence was the fourth best in the division conceding an average of 1.13 goals per game (52). They had the best record of points lost (10) when drawing or winning.
Hull’s away record in their two previous Premier League seasons is 27 points from a possible 114.
Last season’s Hull stats in the Championship
Most starts: James Chester 43, Ahmed Elmohamady and Stephen Quinn 41
Most goals: Robert Koren 9, Sone Aluko 8, Jay Simpson 6
Manager Steve Bruce
Days in charge: 424
On Friday 9 October 1998 Hull lost 2-1 at home to Cardiff and remained bottom of the fourth tier and 92nd in the Football League with seven points from 12 games. Fifteen years on, Hull are starting their third season in the Premier League.
|Jul 15||North Ferriby United (a)||W 3-1|
|Jul 20||Sheffield Wed (Portugal)||D 0-0|
|Jul 23||Braga (Portugal)||D 0-0|
|Jul 27||Birmingham (a)||L 1-2|
|Jul 29||Peterborough (a)||W 1-0|
|Aug 3||Dynamo Dresden (a)||W 1-0|
|Aug 6||Eintract Braunschweig (a)||L 0-2|
|Aug 10||Real Betis (h)||W 3-0|
Pre-season scorers (9)
Aluko 2 (1 pen), Boyd 1, Figueroa 1, Graham 1, Rosenior 1, Proschwitz 1, Quinn 1, Sagbo 1.
Line up against Real Betis
McGregor, Elmohamady (Rosenior 73), Chester (McShane 73), Davies, Figueroa (Dudgeon 73), Koren (Boyd 73), Meyler (Bruce 73), Brady (Dawson 88), Aluko (Fryatt 73), Graham (McLean 80), Sagbo (Proshwitz 80).
League games since
An away win: 2
An away draw: 9
An away defeat: 0
Ins Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse Arnhem, undisclosed), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, free), Cristian Cuevas (O’Higgins, undisclosed), Stipe Perica (NK Zadar, undisclosed)
Outs Amin Affane (released, now Energie Cottbus), Yossi Benayoun (released), Aziz Deen-Conteh (released), Paulo Ferreira (released), Florent Malouda (released, now Trabzonspor), Archange Nkumu (released), Ross Turnbull (released, now Doncaster), Jeffrey Bruma (PSV, undisclosed), George Saville (Brentford, loan), Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid, loan), Todd Kane (Blackburn, loan), Marko Marin (Sevilla, loan), Patrick Bamford (MK Dons, loan), Billy Clifford (Yeovil, loan), Oriol Romeu (Valencia, loan), Milan Lalkovic (Walsall, loan), Danny Pappoe (Colchester, loan), Sam Walker (Colchester, loan), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Gael Kakuta (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Thorgan Hazard (Zulte Waregem, loan), Matej Delac (FK Vojvodina, loan), Jhon Pirez (Lrganes, loan), Lucas Piazon (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Wallace (Inter Milan, loan).
Ins George Boyd (Peterborough, free), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan, free), Curtis Davies (Birmingham, £2.25m), Ahmed Elmohamady (Sunderland, £2m), Allan McGregor (Besiktas, £1.5m), Steve Harper (Newcastle, free), Danny Graham (Sunderland, loan), Yannick Sagbo (Evian, undisclosed), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham, undisclosed), Jake Livermore (Tottenham, loan).
Outs Sonny Bradley (Portsmouth, free), Danny East (Portsmouth, free), Seyi Olofinjana (released), Jay Simpson (released), Andy Dawson (Scunthorpe, free), Mark Oxley (Oldham, loan), Jack Hobbs (Nottingham Forest, loan), Tom Cairney (Blackburn, loan), Corry Evans (Blackburn, undisclosed), Jamie Devitt (Chesterfield, free), Mark Cullen (Luton, free), Paul McKenna (released),
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Jon Moss is refereeing for the first time at Stamford Bridge. His three previous Chelsea games were all away last season at Norwich (1-0), Brentford in the FA Cup 2-2) and the Premier League game at Southampton (1-2). His previous Hull City game was a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday.
There are no suspensions.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.