2005/06

Reigning champions, we went into the 2005/06 campaign as overwhelming favourites to retain the title, and in our Centenary year, would not disappoint.

Having wrapped up the Community Shield with a 2-1 win against Arsenal, we visited newly-promoted Wigan on the first day of the season, but needed an injury-time Hernan Crespo strike to earn us the three points.

We won our first six games without conceding a goal before having to come from behind against Aston Villa thanks to two Frank Lampard goals, a game followed by a 4-1 drubbing of Liverpool at Anfield and a 5-1 demolition of Bolton.

Everton were the first team to deny us maximum points, holding us to a 1-1 in late October, by which time we were already nine points clear at the top of the table.

Manchester United inflicted our first defeat of the campaign in early November through Darren Fletcher's header but we were quickly back on form with Joe Cole and Crespo on top form. John Terry scored the only goal of the game in consecutive home matches against Middlesbrough and Wigan before Arjen Robben and Cole condemned Arsenal to defeat on our last ever visit to their Highbury home.

Consecutive draws against Charlton and Aston Villa could not dent the defence of our crown and by January's end we were a staggering 14 points clear of our rivals.

We did suffer a strange 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in February, the biggest defeat of the Mourinho era, but we bounced back to beat Portsmouth and West Brom. A last-minute William Gallas drive gifted us a win against Spurs at Stamford Bridge and extended the gap to 18 points, and although Man United had games in hand the championship was in no doubt.

An ill-tempered defeat at Fulham and United's improved form kept the race mathematically alive, but having beaten West Ham, Bolton and Everton, we needed to avoid defeat against United at the Bridge to wrap it up.

What followed was Chelsea at our best, William Gallas putting us in front early with a close-range header before Cole danced around half the United defence to put us firmly in control, with Carvalho putting it beyond doubt after a forward rampage ended in him smashing home for a 3-0 win.

That was to be our last goal of the season, with two skeleton sides beaten 1-0 against both Blackburn and Newcastle. It meant we finished the season on 91 points, four short of the season before, and only eight clear of second-placed United, but the league had been won at a canter.

We had however not been so successful in the cups, beaten semi-finalists against Liverpool in the FA Cup, beaten on penalties early on by Charlton in the Carling Cup and dumped out of the Champions League by eventual winners Barcelona. The challenge next season would be to challenge on all fronts.