Blues in Toon

Chelsea’s biggest Premier League victory over Newcastle United came in the first season of the Roman Abramovich era. We look back on a five-star performance by the Blues.

Stamford Bridge has not been a happy hunting ground for the Magpies over the years, with just one top-flight victory to their name since the league was rebranded in 1992 and, in fact, only 12 in total across 79 matches.

Only in the 1980/81 season have we achieved a bigger winning margin over our visitors from the North-East than our meeting the 2003/04 campaign, but we knew that was going to be a special day when Gary Chivers, a defender, netted a Goal of the Season contender. On this occasion, however, the term ‘the stars aligned’ took on an altogether meeting.

There had been shades of brilliance in the previous weeks that the big-name signings made in the early months of the Abramovich era, most notably in a 4-0 win at Lazio which came in the midweek before we hosted the Toon Army.

During the summer, a host of players including Joe Cole, Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Juan Sebastian Veron had been brought in to strengthen the squad, which allowed manager Claudio Ranieri to live up to his Tinkerman moniker. This time, though, he named an unchanged starting XI for the first time that season.

Our new signings at full-back, Wayne Bridge and Glen Johnson, were impressive throughout. Indeed, Bridge would grab two assists on the day, the first a cross into the area that found Johnson at the back post. Allowed the time and space to set himself, he blasted a half-volley past the advancing Given and into the roof of the net to grab his first league goal for the club.

The right-back was then involved in our second. His cross into the box was headed away by Titus Bramble, only as far as the unmarked Duff at the edge of the area. His fiercely struck effort across the face of goal was then turned home by Crespo to double our lead.

The game was effectively ended as a contest when Adrian Mutu burst into the penalty area, going one-on-one with Given before being hauled down from behind by Andy O’Brien. Referee Paul Durkin showed the defender a straight red card, and Frank Lampard converted the spot-kick to give us a 3-0 lead at half-time.

In the second half we were in complete control, and Duff capped off a fine individual performance with a goal of his own, controlling a misplaced clearance to skip past Steven Caldwell on his advance into the area, before burying his shot under the outstretched ‘keeper and into the bottom left corner. 

Eidur Gudjohnsen would cap the victory with a header six minutes from time, starting and finishing the move with a pass out left to Bridge, who then grabbed his second assist of the game by curling a cross into the six-yard box. The Icelandic forward had continued his run, met it beautifully, and headed it in to get himself on the scoresheet. 

Five goals by five separate goalscorers further showcased the attacking talent in our squad that season, although our early-season tilt at the Premier League title was not sustained as Arsenal’s Invincibles took hold of the race for glory. Even so, a second-place finish and a trip to the semi-finals of the Champions League gave us a taste of the bigger and better things destined for the football club.