The KC Stadium
Sat 11 Jan 2014 12:45 (Attendance: 24,924)
Our third and final away game in January takes us to Humberside for the first time in four years. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set out on the highway to Hull…
A win in this early kick-off would place the Blues top of the table, if only for a few hours. As good as the festive season was for Chelsea, it is an indication of how tight this Barclays Premier League campaign could be that the Blues' return of three victories and a draw, with a goal difference of plus four, was the fourth best over that period.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham all performed marginally better, while even 'crisis club' Manchester United managed three wins and a net addition of three to their goal difference (one a very narrow win at Hull on Boxing Day). There can be no resting on any laurels this weekend, which sees the opening day fixtures reversed. Chelsea's next two league games are at home: to Man United and West Ham.
There's something about fours at the moment. At Derby in the FA Cup last weekend John Mikel Obi celebrated becoming only the fourth overseas player to make his 300th appearance at Chelsea by scoring his fourth goal for the club.
All his strikes have come during Jose Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge. If the Special One can turn Mikel into a prolific goalscorer it could only be a matter of time before he resolves America's polar vortex crisis, if required.
Chelsea's Nigeria midfielder accidentally became skipper when Michael Essien left the action at the iPro Stadium - Mourinho confessed the vacant armband was supposed to go to seven-time FA Cup winner Ashley Cole.
Mikel was runner-up to CAF African Footballer of the Year 2013 Yaya Toure on Thursday. It is a title his teammate Samuel Eto'o has won a record four times, most recently 2010; Didier Drogba won it in 2006 and 2009.
The same day Europa League victors Chelsea were announced as the world's third best team of 2013 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). Top rated according to their data were Champions League winners Bayern Munich, followed by Real Madrid, the club Mourinho left in June 2013 to rejoin the Blues. After Chelsea the IFFHS's top five was completed by Spanish duo Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
Talented midfielder Lewis Baker was handed a seven-minute debut in that FA Cup win. He is a player Jose has watched many times and likes the look of. The breakthrough is great for Chelsea's Academy and is another indication of the value of the under-fire competition.
Also last Sunday Mark Schwarzer achieved his fourth clean sheet in five appearances, producing a highly impressive 80 per cent rate. He has now recorded more shutouts than the likes of Steve Sherwood (three in 17 appearances), Mark Bosnich (two in seven), Bob Iles (one in 14), Tommy Hughes (one in 11), Ross Turnbull (one in 16), Perry Digweed (one in three) and David Webb (one in one) - the only Chelsea goalie with a 100 per cent blank record.
More importantly the 2-0 win was Chelsea's fourth clean sheet in the five games since the Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland which prompted much debate and reappraisal.
Saturday lunchtime will be another test of the renewed resilience: Hull only lost to Man United by a James Chester own goal and surprisingly whacked six past our west London neighbours Fulham two days later on 28 December. The half-dozen goals came in the second half, a rare feat that Chelsea managed against Wigan when sealing the league title on 9 May 2010 (with two goals in the first half we won 8-0).
The Humberside club currently boast the sixth best home record in the league this season and no side has conceded fewer than their six goals. However the only serious scalp they have claimed there is that of Liverpool (pictured below); Man City, Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham visit the KC Stadium over the second half of the season. Their away record is the second worst in the top flight.
The transfer window opened last week but is only slightly ajar for Chelsea, as the manager has said. Hull City have denied rekindling their flirtation with Shane Long, the player they attempted to lure from West Brom in the summer.
Our host conurbation this weekend was named UK City of Culture for 2017 a few weeks ago. No doubt many southern-based readers will already be familiar with Kingston-upon-Hull's existing attractions, such as the river horse-wash at Victoria Pier, the world's smallest window at the George Hotel, and replicas (designed from photographs) of Tutankhamun's tomb goods that outraged Howard Carter.
Furthermore, The Land Of Green Ginger is not a barrel-scraping Tin Tin adventure, as the uninitiated might assume, but one of Hull's more exotically named streets.
So is that, like the old Housemartins album title, 'London 0 Hull 4'? Hardly - though the Ferens Art Gallery does have a few David Hockneys and Helen Chadwicks on its walls, and the Maritime and Wilberforce museums are excellent.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Hull v Chelsea 12.45pm - BT Sport
Cardiff v West Ham 3pm
Everton v Norwich 3pm
Fulham v Sunderland 3pm
Southampton v West Brom 3pm
Tottenham v Crystal Palace 3pm
Manchester United v Swansea 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Newcastle v Manchester City 2.05pm - Sky Sports
Stoke v Liverpool 4.10pm - Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Arsenal 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League top 10|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Steve Bruce and Birmingham City were the first hosts of a Jose Mourinho Chelsea team in August 2004 and one of the last visitors to Stamford Bridge before the Portuguese departed in September 2007.
Bruce lost four of their six encounters back then (including those two) and drew the others. He admits to being a huge fan of Mourinho, who samples Kingston upon Hull for the first time this weekend.
Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic remain unavailable for this trip, so Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to retain the more familiar right-back role in which he has excelled since switching from the left; Ashley Cole should continue on the other flank.
Who stands in for Lampard may depend on which formation the manager decides upon. Mikel's fine showings in central midfield might suggest he will retain a central midfield role whatever. However this sort of opposition arguably requires extra incisiveness in the final third and that is not the strongest suit of the CAF African Footballer of the Year nominee, who shines against tougher opponents.
There will inevitably be changes from the side that won comfortably at Derby County in the FA Cup last weekend, with goalkeeper Petr Cech, aiming to surpass Peter Bonetti's clean sheets record after Mark Schwarzer's appearance at the iPro Stadium.
Juan Mata will vie for a start with Eden Hazard - a sub at Derby - Willian, Andre Schurrle and Oscar as Mourinho weighs up his options against Steve Bruce's hard-working and physical team. The Tigers generally set themselves up in a 3-5-1-1, in which the three centre-backs can be susceptible to pace wide on the flanks.
Their wing-backs in that formation have included the mostly attack-minded Ahmed Elmohamady (pictured below) and Manuel Figueroa. However, they may revert to 4-5-1 (the raw but eager Yannick Sagbo as lone striker) with Liam Rosenior stepping in at right full-back. Rosenior scored an own-goal equaliser in our 2-2 draw with Fulham at Christmas 2006.
Chelsea's opposition scouts will have identified the pivotal contribution made to Hull's campaign by Tom Huddleston, who will dominate at the heart of their five-man midfield if permitted. The hefty ex-Spurs player is thriving on responsibility and belief he has not perhaps enjoyed in previous seasons.
Set-piece specialist and creative midfielder Robbie Brady is ruled out for the Tigers along with forward Sone Aluko (brother of Chelsea Ladies star Eni). Peripheral centre-back Paul McShane will miss up to a month with an ankle problem.
Fernando Torres, so far the only Pensioners striker to have scored on the road in the league, will hope for a return in attack. An early Blues goal could be crucial: the Tigers have lost eight of the nine games in which the opposition have opened the scoring.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Few clubs have a longer association with Chelsea than Hull City. They were the first competitive visitors to Stamford Bridge on Monday 11 September 1905 - a 5-1 win for the Pensioners. Jimmy Windridge netted our first ever hat-trick and Davie Copeland added a brace. The Tigers led the return match at Anlaby Road 2-0 at half-time, extended to 4-0 before the Londoners - without Willie Foulke between the sticks - rallied to make it 4-3 at the end.
The Blues' biggest win at Kingston-upon-Hull came as recently as October 2008 when high-flying Hull were managed by Phil Brown. It was third hosting second and Luiz Felipe Scolari's men were ahead on superior goal difference alone.
Frank Lampard opened the scoring after just two minutes with a sublime left-footed chip that gave Boaz Myhill no chance and there were chances for either side up to half-time. Five minutes into the second period the alert Nicolas Anelka exploited mis-communication between Myhill and his centre-backs to nip in and make it 2-0.
Fifteen minutes before the end Florent Malouda taped in from close range from Ricardo Carvalho's cross and it finished 3-0.
This weekend Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten record against Hull to 10 games in all competitions, since the Tigers last beat us 3-0 at Boothferry Park in October 1988 in the old Second Division. Michael Smith and a Keith Edwards brace secured the win in front of a 6,953 crowd. Our last eight meetings have seen seven wins and two draws.
|The last 10 away games at Hull in all competitions|
|1965/66||Chelsea won 3-1||FA Cup quarter-final replay|
|1975/76||Chelsea won 2-1||Old Division 2|
|1976/77||Drew 1-1||Old Division 2|
|1981/82||Chelsea won 2-0||FA Cup 3rd round replay|
|1988/89||Hull won 3-0||Old Division 2|
|1991/92||Chelsea won 2-0||FA Cup 3rd round|
|1999/00||Chelsea won 6-1||FA Cup 3rd round|
|2007/08||Chelsea won 4-0||League Cup 3rd round|
|2008/09||Chelsea won 3-0||Premier League|
|2009/10||Drew 1-1||Premier League|
The reverse fixture this season
18 August 2013 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea v Hull City in all competitions
Games played 41
Chelsea wins 27
Hull wins 4
Head to head in the League at Anlaby Road, Boothferry Park and KC Stadium
Games played 15
Chelsea wins 7
Hull wins 4
Biggest league win at Hull for each team
25/10/1988 - Hull 3-0 Chelsea
29/10/2008 - Hull 0-3 Chelsea
Chelsea lost to Hull: 9,209
Hull were 92nd in the Football League: 5,573
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,157
Liverpool won the league: 8,652
Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, the best record in the Barclays Premier League.
We have the second tightest defence (with Everton) with 19 goals conceded in 20 games. Only Arsenal with 18 have let in fewer.
Chelsea have kept four clean sheets and conceded just one goal in our last five league and cup matches.
The Blues are three points up compared to the corresponding 20 fixtures last season.
We have won 15 points from a possible 30 away from Stamford Bridge this term.
Chelsea have lost just three in the last 76 games against newly-promoted teams in over 12 years. We have won 60 of those matches.
|Last six results|
|Dec 17||Sunderland (Capital One Cup a)||L 1-2 aet|
|Dec 23||Arsenal (a)||D 0-0|
|Dec 26||Swansea (h)||W 1-0|
|Dec 29||Liverpool (h)||W 2-1|
|Jan 1||Southampton (a)||W 3-0|
|Jan 5||Derby (FA Cup a)||W 2-0|
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 2
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sun 19 Jan||Manchester United home||4.00pm|
|Sun 26 Jan||Stoke (FA Cup) home||3.30pm|
|Wed 29 Jan||West Ham home||7.45pm|
If selected, Gary Cahill will make his 50th Premier League appearance for the club.
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.
The Tigers have won 18 points from a possible 30 at the KC Stadium this term. They have five wins against Norwich, West Ham, Sunderland, Liverpool and Fulham, three draws with Cardiff, Aston Villa and Stoke and two defeats to Crystal Palace and Man Utd
Although Hull have conceded 25 Premier League goals this season, only six have come at home, three of which were from Man Utd in their last home game. No top-flight team has conceded fewer at home.
Hull have won two and lost five of their last 10 Premier League games.
The Tigers have failed to score in eight of their 20 league games this term.
They have lost eight of the nine matches their opponents opened the scoring.
Manager Steve Bruce
Days in charge: 564
|Hull's last 10 year league history|
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.
|Last six results|
|Dec 14||Stoke (h)||D 0-0|
|Dec 21||West Brom (a)||D 1-1|
|Dec 26||Manchester United (h)||L 2-3|
|Dec 28||Fulham (h)||W 6-0|
|Jan 1||Liverpool (a)||L 0-2|
|Jan 4||Middlesbrough (FA Cup a)||W 2-0|
Premier League scorers (22)
Brady 3 (2 pens), Elmohamady 2, Koren 2, Livermore 2, Meyler 2, Sagbo 2, own goals 2, Aluko 1, Boyd 1, Chester 1, Davies 1, Fryatt 1, Graham 1, Huddlestone 1.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 2
A home defeat: 1
Completed January transfers
Ins Bertrand Traore (Bobo-Dioulasso)
Outs Bertrand Traore (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Patrick Bamford (Derby, loan), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough, loan)
Outs Tom Cairney (Blackburn, undisclosed), Conor Townsend (Carlisle, loan), Cameron Stewart (Leeds, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mark Clattenburg is refereeing his second Chelsea match in a month. He was the official for our 2-1 home win against Crystal Palace on 14 December.
There are no suspensions.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.
- Join Jason Cundy, Tommy Langley and Graham Stuart for on Chelsea TV for exclusive build-up and live commentary of the game.
As in our previous away games this year, at Southampton and Derby, a tight, entertaining opening half ended goalless. And again after the break we made a spell of pressure count, Hazard brilliantly lashing in from 20 yards after another mazy dribble.
The remaining half hour or so was played out in relative comfort, with the points sealed by Torres, who cruised past Alex Bruce before finishing coolly.
For the first time in over five years, we have kept three clean sheets in a row away from home in the league, which means Cech overtakes Peter Bonetti as our all-time record holder in that department.
David Luiz was selected alongside his compatriot Ramires in midfield, with Gary Cahill starting in central defence for the fourth game running, on the occasion of his 50th league appearance in Chelsea blue.
Steve Bruce made eight changes from his side's last outing, a 2-0 FA Cup win at Middlesbrough, with only Maynor Figueroa, David Meyler and George Boyd retained from that win on Teesside.
The KC Stadium, where we were playing for the first time on a weekend, was bathed in sunshine as the players walked onto the pitch. Indeed, a section of the travelling Chelsea support were forced to spend much of the opening 45 shielding their eyes from the surprising Humber glow.
On the pitch, the apologetic Mark Clattenburg found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time a few minutes in, inadvertently halting Hazard in his tracks as a threatening counter-attack looked on the cards.
Elmohamady struck well from 20 yards, the ball bouncing awkwardly in front of Cech, but our keeper dealt with the game's first shot comfortably. Torres then had an effort deflected into the side netting, with Allan McGregor in the Hull goal rooted to the spot. It wasn't far off from sneaking inside his near post.
The already-menacing Hazard was clattered by Tom Huddlestone with 15 minutes gone, our Belgian winger feeling the full force of the shaven-headed, former Spurs man's considerable physical presence.
Cech palmed behind a swerving Jake Livermore long-ranger, and from the resulting corner an unmarked Bruce could only head well over.
We were handed a more generous reprieve with 25 minutes on the clock. John Terry was caught in possession trying to play the ball out from the back near the corner flag, the ball ricocheting kindly to Yannick Sagbo. With just Cech to beat the big Ivorian snatched at his shot and it whizzed well wide.
A golden opportunity of our own to break the deadlock arrived five minutes later. Cole's flick to Hazard on the edge of the Hull box took a host of the home side's players - defending in numbers - out of the game. The Belgian's subsequent cross took a knick in the direction of the unmarked Oscar, and as time seemed to stand still, our no.11's effort on the half volley was magnificently saved by McGregor, whose steely left palm forced the ball over the ball and not under it when the game's opening goal had seemed a certainty.
The Scot was called into action one more time before the half was up, shovelling David Luiz's 35-yard free-kick - which the Brazilian had won himself - over the bar.
So a combative first 45, occasionally lacking quality, ended goalless. An excellent chance apiece had been spurned.
More wing-wizardry from Hazard soon after the restart created space for a shot, but the winger was well-tackled as he went to pull the trigger.
Our bright start to the half continued when a wave of blue pressure forced Bruce into a handball 25 yards from goal. Again David Luiz forced a stop from McGregor, this one a little more uneasy on the eye than in the first half. The rebound fell kindly for those of a Hull disposition.
As in our most recent games on the road, at Southampton and Derby, an upping of pressure at the beginning of the second half earned a tangible reward. David Luiz played the ball into Cole, who released Hazard with a delightful first-time back heel. The Belgian dashed in from the left-hand side of the box, feigning to shoot on a couple of occasions. He bode his time before firing low and hard past McGregor, who stood no chance. Hazard's ninth Premier League goal of the season was one of his best yet, a fusion of the two he struck at Sunderland in early December.
Willian and Huddlestone then fired wide free-kicks not far over, while Hazard had a chance of a second but his shot was superbly blocked at close range.
Just as in the first half, Oscar looked set to score having led a counter-attack, latching on to Willian's cross, but this time Davies was on hand to produce a superb block, diverting the Brazilian's effort over the bar.
Despite having the lead, the expected Hull onslaught never really materialised. Steve Bruce shifted to a 4-2-3-1 formation in an attempt to gain some sort of holding of a half that had rather slipped by for his charges.
The three points were then wrapped up with 86 minutes gone. Willian fed Torres who had too much pace for the backpedalling Bruce, racing past the Hull boss's son with ease. He finished with aplomb on his left, much to the delight of the Chelsea supporters positioned behind that goal and Mourinho on the side-line.
So a third consecutive win on the road, and all without conceding. The travelling fans bounced with delight at the prospect of going top of the league, while at the final whistle it was Cech who received the plaudits of his team-mates for beating Bonetti's longstanding club record.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires (Essien 89), David Luiz; Willian (Schurrle 87), Oscar (Mikel 79), Hazard; Torres.
Unused subs Schwarzer, Bertrand, Mata, Eto'o.
Scorers Hazard 56, Torres 86
Booked Cahill 65
Hull City (4-5-1): McGregor; Chester (Fryatt 77), Bruce, Davies (c), Figueroa; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler (Koren 67), Boyd (Quinn 83); Sagbo.
Unused subs Harper, Rosenior, Faye, Graham.
Booked Livermore 69, Figueroa 81
Referee Mark Clattenburg