2018 to 2019
Maurizio Sarri was appointed Chelsea head coach in the summer of 2018, succeeding fellow Italian Antonio Conte to become our sixth manager from that country.
He had previously followed an unconventional career path, rising from the amateur levels before catching the eye with a distinctive brand of possession football which had guided his hometown club Napoli to two second-placed finishes in Serie A.
Sarri made a strong start to life in the Premier League, winning our first five matches in a row, the start of an unbeaten spell in all competitions which lasted until November and included a memorable 3-2 victory over Arsenal in his first game at Stamford Bridge.
However, despite that win over the Gunners, it was against our rivals at the top end of the table we encountered problems, and our unbeaten run was brought to a halt by a painful 3-1 reverse to Tottenham at their temporary home Wembley.
We did come out on top against a direct rival in December, though, with a home victory over eventual champions Manchester City at the Bridge, before completing our comfortable qualification from the Europa League group stage.
Our Premier League form suffered as we entered 2019, exacerbating our troubles on the road, with three consecutive away losses, including heavy defeats at Arsenal and in the return fixture with City, which left us outside the top four and 15 points behind the Manchester side in first place.
There were few such problems in the knockout competitions, as we defeated both that term’s Champions League finalists, Liverpool and Tottenham, on our way to reaching the Carabao Cup final, but we fell at the last hurdle as we were beaten in a penalty shoot-out by Man City, following a tight 0-0 draw at Wembley.
That competition, along with the Europa League, allowed Sarri to introduce youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek on an increasingly regular basis, along with trying to implement a notably different style of football to the team.
The exception to our knockout form was the FA Cup, where were eliminated by Manchester United in February, but our league form recovered as we lost just one of our last eight games to secure a top-four finish with a match to spare.
The season ended on a high as after defeating Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties in the Europa League semi-finals, we were comprehensive 4-1 winners over Arsenal in the final in Baku, allowing Sarri to lift the first trophy of his career.He stepped down as Blues boss that summer to return to his homeland and join Italian champions Juventus.