Sun 13 May 2012 15:00 (Attendance: 40,742)
It is time to say goodbye to Stamford Bridge for another season. Club historian Rick Glanvill, club statistician Paul Dutton and former player Clive Walker make the home run…
Happy 60th on Sunday, everyone - next Saturday Chelsea will complete 61 games this season in all competitions, a total reached on just three previous occasions.
Following the disappointment at Anfield in midweek there is little for the sixth-placed Blues to play for. Nothing, that is, except the small matters of pleasing loyal supporters and securing a starting place in the Champions League final a week hence.
Few of the 'possibles' who might fill the gaps created by suspensions against Bayern did themselves any favours on Tuesday. Roberto Di Matteo and his staff will want to ensure that momentum is regained before the trip to Germany.
Our opponents Blackburn have troubles that transcend the demotion to which they have already been consigned. At least they have been here before and come back.
Rovers are the only former Premier League champions to have been relegated, and they have suffered this fate twice. After the first in 1999 they remained in the second tier for two seasons before winning promotion as runners-up in 2000/01.
Despite the revival under Di Matteo's stewardship, Chelsea's league form has been disappointing: four wins and three defeats in our last 10 Barclays Premier League games, or 15 points from a possible 30.
The sixth place finish is the worst since 2001/02 when Claudio Ranieri was manager and Roman Abramovich unheard of.
From a longer perspective, however, it is now a decade and a half since the Blues closed the season in a position lower than sixth in the top flight. Only Manchester United and Arsenal can claim the same level of consistency.
Wednesday night confirmed the pre-eminence of those same three teams in another competition, the FA Youth Cup. Adi Viveash's Under 18s beat Blackburn's 4-1 on aggregate in the two-leg final (pictured below).
That is the fourth time Chelsea have won the prestigious youth competition - 1960, 1961 and 2010 being the others - putting the club a clear third behind Arsenal (seven) and Man United (10) on the winners board.
Chelsea are also the first team to win the senior and junior FA Cups in the same season on two occasions. The knockout success crosses gender too. Last Sunday Chelsea Ladies' Under 17s beat Arsenal to scoop the inaugural FA Youth Girls' Cup.
Their seniors face Birmingham City Ladies at Ashton Gate, Bristol, on Sunday 26 May (12.15pm, live on Sky Sports) hoping to lift the FA Women's Cup and make it a unique clean sweep.
While Chelsea will undoubtedly rest many of last week's FA Cup victors for the Blackburn league match, our Champions League opponents and their manager Jupp Heynckes face a dilemma.
Bayern Munich travel to Berlin to play rivals Borussia Dortmund in front of 80,000 spectators on Saturday evening in the final of the DFB Pokal, Germany's equivalent to the FA Cup. Unlike the national cups in Spain and Italy, it is a very important prize that clubs and fans very much want to win.
The Bayern coach has to decide whether he can afford to rest players ahead of next week's European showdown, or risk injuries but avenge Bundesliga champions elect Dortmund, and carry that momentum into the game against Chelsea on their home patch.
Perhaps in their own minds the Bayern players will have already decided which of the two matches is their main priority. 'If losing the cup final means winning the Champions League final,' Arjen Robben was reported to have said, 'I'd sign that here and now.' Perhaps the former Blues star cannot comprehend it is possible to lose both.
Against Dortmund Heynckes may decide to give some bench time to one or two key figures, such as Robben, Franck Ribéry or Mario Gomez. The game also provides the last competitive chance for defender Daniel van Buyten, out since January, to prove his fitness.
Bayern have all three of the players suspended against Chelsea at their disposal: Luiz Gustavo, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber. Last weekend Heynckes left the trio out and fielded what many consider to be his 'Champions League final side' at Köln. Although they won 4-1, the defence looked very shaky at times.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Sunday (all kicking off at 3pm)
Chelsea v Blackburn
Everton v Newcastle
Manchester City v QPR
Norwich v Aston Villa
Stoke v Bolton
Sunderland v Manchester United
Swansea v Liverpool
Tottenham v Fulham
West Brom v Arsenal
Wigan v Wolverhampton
|Barclays Premier League table|
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Robin van Persie (Arsenal) 30
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 26
Sergio Agüero (Man City) 22
Clint Dempsey (Fulham) 17
Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham) 16
Demba Ba (Newcastle) 16
Yakubu (Blackburn) 16
Grant Holt (Norwich) 14
Mario Balotelli (Man City) 13
Papiss Cisse (Newcastle) 13
Edin Džeko (Man City) 13
Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 11
Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea) 11
Plus 4 others on 11
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
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Former Blue Clive Walker is not worked up about the match on Sunday but sees it as an important opportunity.
'It seems like a bit of a nonentity of game, to be honest,' says the onetime winger. 'The outcome has no effect on the league outcome for either side in any way. For both sides it is an opportunity to play freely, and to give some game time to some of younger or fringe players.
'I've watched our FA Youth Cup winners all through the rounds and I'd like to think one or two of them might even have a look-in. But there is an important match looming for Chelsea next weekend and that overshadows everything else.
'I imagine all the players suspended from the Champions League final who are fit will start against Blackburn. And I would imagine few, if any, of the ones who will be involved next Saturday would be used this weekend - although one or two are returning from injury and may feel the need for a run-out.
'We'll have to wait and see if Roberto Di Matteo thinks this is a chance for young men such as Romelu Lukaku, Ryan Bertrand and Sam Hutchinson (pictured below) to be in the starting line-up. From the FA Youth Cup winners, Lucas Piazón was a shining light all the way through the competition. He has worked hard and may see that rewarded.
'He has something about him that really suggests he can go on further, quite soon. Great awareness, movement, technique. He has to keep learning and improving, of course, but maybe this match hands the manager an opportunity to use him off the bench.
'The opposition are relegated, deflated and divided as a football club. They will be flat in the dressing room and the beach holiday cannot come soon enough. But I've been in that position and sometimes you can be underestimated.
'For example, if Steve Kean has a few regulars out injured, or not selected, two or three of the reserves come in, with less baggage. They may be young and confident, had a good season personally outside the first team.
'Their youthful excitement can lift a dressing room, and the older teammates will feel the need to take responsibility and help them along.
'Of course it's all very well having that in the dressing room, and if things go wrong on the pitch it can all unravel. But a lot of them will be playing for pride and their livelihood because relegation brings uncertainty.
'That's why Chelsea need to start high-tempo, looking for an early breakthrough. I would love our players to put on a show for the fans, because they're forking out a lot of cash following the boys this season, and it would be lovely to take some buoyancy into the unbelievably big game next Saturday.'
WE HAVE HISTORY
Ben Whitehouse scored the only goal the first time this fixture was played, in December 1907, and it is in some record books as the Chelsea's quickest ever strike.
However, it was actually scored straight after the half-time break, and in the most unusual circumstances. Chelsea's forwards had dominated most of the first half against the Lancastrians, with luxuriously-moustached goalkeeper Bob Evans under considerable physical pressure.
When the teams returned for the second half it emerged Evans needed treatment for injury and was not coming straight back on the field. Rovers continued with ten men, skipper and right-back Bob Crompton temporarily stepping between the sticks.
It was the Pensioners' kick-off and on a treacherous surface at the Bridge they immediately took advantage of the numerical supremacy, forcing play down the left, where Crompton would have been, towards inside-forward Whitehouse, who struck a shot that easily eluded Crompton and went in off the post. The goal was timed at 13 seconds.
Evans returned to the fray straight after the breakthrough. Perhaps the goalie pressed his manager afterwards for a 'clean sheet' bonus.
Back to the present and the Blues are looking to extend our unbeaten Premier League run against Rovers to 12 games. We have won nine and drawn two of our last 11 Premier League matches.
Blackburn's last league victory against Chelsea was in the penultimate game in 2005/06 at Ewood Park when a Robbie Savage free kick was glanced in by Steven Reid just before half time.
Their only other success this decade was in February 2003 (pictured below) when two late goals by Dwight Yorke and David Dunn secured a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored our consolation in stoppage time.
Craig Bellamy was the last Blackburn player to score a goal at Stamford Bridge over six years ago. Chelsea have scored 14 goals in 496 minutes without reply against Rovers since then.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
2001/02 Drew 0-0
2002/03 Rovers won 2-1
2003/04 Drew 2-2
2004/05 Chelsea won 4-0
2005/06 Chelsea won 4-2
2006/07 Chelsea won 3-0
2007/08 Drew 0-0
2008/09 Chelsea won 2-0
2009/10 Chelsea won 5-0
2010/11 Chelsea won 2-0
The reverse fixture this season
5 November 2011 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea v Blackburn in all competitions
Games played 111
Chelsea wins 47
Rovers wins 35
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 50
Chelsea wins 26
Rovers wins 12
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 5-0 Blackburn - 24/10/2009
Chelsea 1-6 Blackburn - 29/03/1913
Chelsea won a trophy: 6
Blackburn last scored a goal at Stamford Bridge: 2,387
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,548
Liverpool won the league: 8,043
The Blues have won 12 and drawn four of 19 games since Robbie Di Matteo took over as interim first team coach.
The 45 league goals we have conceded is the most since 2000/01 when we also let in 45 and 1996/97 (55).
Chelsea have dropped 17 points from either drawing or winning positions this term. Only Aston Villa (22) and Wolves (20) have a poorer record.
|Last six results|
|Apr 21||Arsenal (a)||D 0-0|
|Apr 24||Barcelona (Champions League SF a)||D 2-2|
|Apr 29||QPR (h)||W 6-1|
|May 2||Newcastle (h)||L 0-2|
|May 5||Liverpool (FA Cup final, Wembley)||W 2-1|
|May 8||Liverpool (a)||L 1-4|
2011/12 Premier League scorers
Lampard 11 (3 pens), Sturridge 11, Mata 6, Torres 6, Drogba 5 (1 pen), Ramires 5, Terry 5, Ivanovic 3, D Luiz 2, Malouda 2, Anelka 1, Bosingwa 1, Cahill 1, Kalou 1, Meireles 1, own goals 2 (Taylor, Swansea, Evans, Man Utd). Total 63.
League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 3
A home defeat: 0
Six players have scored 10 goals or more in a season for the first time in our history: Lampard 16 (5 pens), Sturridge 13, Drogba 12 (1 pen), Mata 12 (1 pen), Ramires 12, Torres 11.
If selected, Ramires will make his 50th Premier League start.
Congratulations to Romelu Lukaku who celebrates his 19th birthday on Sunday.
3 League championships, last in 1995
6 FA Cups, last in 1928
1 League Cup in 2002
Blackburn have lost seven of their last eight Barclays Premier League games.
Blackburn have only won one of the 24 league games in which their opponents opened the scoring.
Rovers have only kept three clean sheets in the Premier League this term. Only Wolves (79) have conceded more goals than Blackburn (76).
Rovers have won 12 points from a possible 54 away from home this term. They have won two at Manchester United and Wolves, drawn six at Fulham, QPR, Norwich, Wigan, Liverpool and Everton and lost 10 at Aston Villa, Newcastle, Stoke, Sunderland, Arsenal, Manchester City, Bolton, West Brom, Swansea and Tottenham.
Manager Steve Kean
Days in charge: 516
|Rovers' last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Apr 7||West Brom (a)||L 0-3|
|Apr 10||Liverpool (h)||L 2-3|
|Apr 14||Swansea (a)||L 0-3|
|Apr 21||Norwich (h)||W 2-0|
|Apr 29||Tottenham (a)||L 0-2|
|May 7||Wigan (a)||L 0-1|
2011/12 Premier League scorers
Yakubu 16 (4 pens), Hoilett 6, Formica 4, own goals 4, Pedersen 3, Dunn 2, Goodwillie 2, Nzonzi 2, Rochina 2, Samba 2, Dann 1, Hanley 1, Vukcevic 1, own goal 1. Total 47
League games since
An away win: 4
An away draw: 7
An away defeat: 0
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee is Lee Mason. This will be his fifth time in charge of a Chelsea game this season - all wins for the Blues to date. Both his Blackburn matches to date have ended in defeat for Rovers.
There are no suspensions.
Chelsea's domestic season ended with a tight but entertaining home victory against Blackburn Rovers at a sun-drenched Stamford Bridge.
Goals from John Terry and Raul Meireles had put us into a comfortable two-goal lead before the break, only for Blackburn's Yakubu to head home on the hour for the visitors to make things interesting.
In truth though Chelsea were dominant and could have had far more goals. That we didn't owed much to Blackburn goalkeeper Jake Kean, who twice saved well from Romelu Lukaku, while Daniel Sturridge wasted a late chance from close range.
With Munich in mind and no Premier League positioning to play for, Roberto Di Matteo could rest some of his key players and allow youngsters in need of action a run out, so Ryan Bertrand kept his place at left-back and Sam Hutchinson (pictured below) made a first start of the season. Romelu Lukaku was unleashed in attack with both Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba on the bench.
Those suspended for the Champions League Final in six days all started. Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires included for their final outing of the season.
Blackburn, already relegated and a club in turmoil, also mixed it up with goalkeeper and captain Paul Robinson injured, so Kean came in for a debut. Adam Henley replaced Bradley Orr, David Dunn was injured and Anthony Modeste dropped, those two replaced by Marcus Olsson and Mauro Formica.
Prior to kick-off Juan Mata collected his second Player of the Year award in four days, this time the collected choice of all the Chelsea Supporters' Clubs. It was presented to him by the Blue Lions Supporters Clubs.
Ross Turnbull, starting competitive games, was the first of the goalkeepers called into service, acrobatically tipping over a deflected Jason Lowe drive after five minutes. At the other end Daniel Sturridge, desperate to impress with a spot up for grabs in Germany, shot wide from distance.
The forward was in the thick of things shortly afterwards too, first failing to bring down a long pass inside the Blackburn area, which led to a corner headed wide by Lukaku, and then poking the Belgian through on goal, only for Kean to make a superb full-length block.
The pair were forging a decent understanding, and it wasn't long before Kean was busy again, excellently saving from Lukaku who had flicked towards goal from a low Sturridge cross. The England man then headed a Malouda cross wide at the far post.
The balance of chances suggested Chelsea were well on top but in fact Blackburn were having more than their share of the ball, and at times the Blues were sloppy in possession, but the visitors were struggling to create clear cut opportunities.
The opener came on 30 minutes, and, in open play, came from an unlikely source. Terry had won possession and after releasing the ball continued his forward run. Lukaku crossed right-footed from the right flank, and found the captain who angled his header back across goal and into the top corner. The perfect way to sign off for the season.
There was barely a wait for the second goal, as Meireles found the bottom corner from the edge of the box after Essien had beaten two men inside the area and been tripped, referee Lee Mason allowing play to continue so that the Portuguese could rifle home.
It was party time at the Bridge. Already the fans had been in fine voice, saluting Drogba and Torres despite neither being on the pitch, and now they were treated to some showboating from Ramires who tried to walk the ball home, denied by a deflection.
There was a little bad news to reflect on though, as Florent Malouda was forced off at the end of the first half, replaced by Paulo Ferreira with Bertrand pushing forward.
The second half began as the first had, with Sturridge causing more problems for the away side, cutting inside on his right but bending a shot just over the crossbar.
Then it was Lukaku's turn as he burst into the area but was also off target on his weaker side. That would be his last involvement with Drogba soon replacing him, to a hero's welcome.
Rovers half-time sub Josh Morris had their first chance of the half when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box, but his attempt was tame and easy for Turnbull to gather.
Blackburn's next attack brought them a goal from Yakubu who touched in Scott Dann's header after the keeper had come for and missed a corner.
If that was a little bit of pantomime there was more to follow when Kean raced from his goal but could not clear, the ball falling to Ramires, whose lob came back off the crossbar and into the goalkeeper's arms.
Junior Hoilett then had a crack that flashed past Turnbull's near post, and Sturridge's deflected volley was pushed past the post by Kean.
By thistime much of the attention around Stamford Bridge had turned to events elsewhere, with league titles, top four spots and relegation being decided around the country. Goals from other grounds were met with a groan or a cheer from the Chelsea fans as news filtered through. A lack of action on the field suggested the players' minds might also be wandering.
Sturridge was one who was still keen to catch the eye though, and his low cross was just too heavy for an incoming Bertrand.
In injury time Sturridge's moment should have come, but somehow, from four yards at the most, he glanced Drogba's deep cross past the post. That was the final action of the game, and now with the Premier League concluded, it is all eyes on Munich in six days.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Turnbull; Hutchinson (Torres 69), Ivanovic, Terry (c), Bertrand; Essien, Meireles; Ramires, Sturridge, Malouda (Ferreira 42); Lukaku (Drogba 53).
Unused subs Hilario, Cole, Romeu, Piazon.
Goals Terry 30, Meireles 33
Booked Bertrand 89
Blackburn Rovers (4-2-3-1): Kean; Henley, Dann (c), Givet, Martin Olsson; Lowe, Pedersen (Rochina 70); Formica (Morris h/t), Hoilett, Marcus Olsson; Yakubu (Goodwillie 75).
Unused subs Usai, Grella, Petrovic, Modeste.
Goals Yakubu 59
Referee Lee Mason