Breaking new ground

Chelsea’s Premier League visit to Brighton this weekend marks a couple of firsts for the Blues as it will it be our inaugural competitive match at the Amex Stadium as well as our first-ever away game in the top flight against the Seagulls.

Brighton’s only previous spell in English football’s top tier from 1979 to 1983 happened while we were in the Second Division, and it was in the second tier that we made our only visits to their former home, the Goldstone Ground, beating them 2-1 in September 1983 and 1-0 in March 1989.

It is the eighth time in the Premier League era that we are visiting a team in the top flight for the first time and the Blues have done pretty well in our previous seven matches against the newcomers.

Swindon Town

The County Ground, 1 January 1994  

Glenn Hoddle led Swindon Town to promotion to the top flight for the first time in 1993 but when he returned to The County Ground as Chelsea’s manager on New Year’s Day 1994, the Robins were bottom of the Premier League with only two wins in the first half of the season. The Blues showed little sympathy for their hosts as Neil Shipperley and Mark Stein scored in the first half and Dennis Wise headed in a late third in a 3-1 victory. Swindon conceded a record 100 goals as they were relegated at the end of the only top-flight campaign in their 139-year history.

Barnsley

Oakwell, 24 August 1997

Having joined the Football League in 1898, it took Barnsley 99 years before they finally earned promotion to the top flight in 1997. They didn’t start too badly in the Premier League, losing 2-1 to West Ham and winning 1-0 at Crystal Palace but they had no answer to Gianluca Vialli when Chelsea visited Oakwell. After Dan Petrescu and Gustavo Poyet had put the Blue two goals up, the Italian took over, firing home an exquisite 20-yarder on the stroke of half-time before adding three more in the second half in a 6-0 victory which remains our joint-biggest away win in the Premier League.

Wigan Athletic

JJB Stadium, 14 August 2005

Our defence of the Premier League title in 2005/06 began with a visit to newly promoted Wigan, who had not previously played a league match against the Blues. However, the Latics showed no nervousness on their top-flight debut and gave the champions several scares in a match that remained goalless at 90 minutes. Wigan squandered a great chance on a breakaway and were made to pay as Hernan Crespo controlled Didier Drogba’s knockdown on the right of the Wigan box before curling a magnificent left-footed strike into the top corner for the winning goal.

Reading

Madejski Stadium, 14 October 2006

Our first-ever top-flight clash against Reading, who were formed in 1871 and joined the league in 1920, is remembered for the fact that we used three goalkeepers with John Terry going between the posts after both Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini had to be stretchered off and taken to hospital. Both teams finished the game with 10 men after John Mikel Obi and Reading’s Andre Bikey were sent off in a game which we won 1-0 through a Frank Lampard free-kick, deflected in off defender Ivar Ingimarsson late in the first half.

Hull City

KC Stadium, 29 October 2008

Hull City played against Chelsea in the first-ever league game at Stamford Bridge in September 1905 but it was another 103 years before they met us in the top flight for the first time. The Tigers started well in their inaugural Premier League campaign, winning six of their first nine games but they had no answer against the Blues after Frank Lampard put us ahead in the third minute with a clever chip from the edge of the box. Nicolas Anelka took advantage of some indecisive defending by the hosts to add a second early in the second half before Florent Malouda’s close-range strike rounded off a 3-0 win.

Swansea City

Liberty Stadium, 31 January 2012

Like Brighton, Swansea had a spell in Division One in the early ‘80s which coincided with our time in Division Two so it was not until 2011/12 that we met them for the first time in the top tier. That first visit to the Liberty Stadium nearly ended in defeat as ex-Blue Scott Sinclair gave the Swans the lead (and declined to celebrate in front of the Chelsea fans) before Ashley Cole was sent off with five minutes left. However, Chelsea’s 10 men rescued a point at the death thanks to Jose Bosingwa, who dribbled in from the right flank before sending in a low drive that deflected in off Neil Taylor.

Bournemouth

Vitality Stadium, 23 April 2016

Appearing in the top flight for the first time in their 116-year history, Bournemouth had inflicted a shock 1-0 defeat on Chelsea when they visited Stamford Bridge in December 2015, but the Blues exacted revenge with a 4-1 win on the South Coast four months later. Cesc Fabregas played a key role, sending Pedro clear to open the scoring after five minutes before setting up Eden Hazard for his first goal of the season on 34 minutes. The Cherries pulled a goal back soon afterwards but Fabregas played in Willian for Chelsea’s third before Hazard added his second of the game in stoppage time.