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Ask Statman

Club statistician Paul Dutton takes a break from the current season’s numbers and records to answer a selection of statistics-related questions from supporters which have been sent his way.

He begins with the numbers the players wear on their backs…


Shirt numbers have been the subject of several questions I have received, including one from Brendon Cammell from Johannesburg asking which number has made the most appearances for Chelsea (he suggests no. 1). He also asks for a list of the top few numbers which have made the most appearances.

For answers to these it makes sense to count from the 1993/94 season, the first one when a fixed squad number was allocated to each player in the Premier League. Before that we started with 1 to 11 in each game.   

In the 22 Premier League campaigns since 93/94, the no.1 shirt wasn’t used in 2003/04 when our goalkeepers were Carlo Cudicini with shirt 23, Marco Ambrosio with 31, Neil Sullivan with 34 and Jurgen Macho with 35 (although he never played).

So there are only 21 seasons of service for 1 whereas there are eight numbers that have been allocated every season throughout the 22 years of the Premier League. They are 3, 7, 8, 11, 19, 23, 24 and 26.

Another shirt number question comes from Sageidyjunior who wants to know which Chelsea players have previously worn the no. 4 shirt.

It is Cesc Fabregas now of course but going back to the start of the squad number era, in order our 4s have been David Lee, Jakob Kjeldbjerg, Ruud Gullit, Steve Clarke, Jes Hogh, Claude Makelele and David Luiz.

The third answer on shirt numbers is prompted by a question from Julius Macharia from Nairobi. He asks for the highest squad number given to a Chelsea player. That is 64 which was allocated to Milan Lalkovic in 2010/11, although the young Slovakian forward didn’t make his debut. He is now at Barnsley.

Julius also asks which numbers in the normal range have never been worn. All have been used by our players up to the mid 30s.

Substitute and emergency goalkeepers have been discussion points in Ask Statman on more than one occasion and continuing that, an email from Tracey asks whether a Chelsea keeper made his debut as a half-time substitute in the late 1990s.

I suspect she is recalling Craig Forrest, the Canadian international who came on loan from Ipswich during the 1996/97 season when injury concerns about our goalkeeping stock were mounting.

Forrest (pictured below) made his debut as a 36th-minute sub for Frode Grodas at Newcastle but this Chelsea side, under the management of Ruud Gullit, were already losing 3-0.

It was in a Premier League game in April 1997 when we were only a few weeks away from winning the FA Cup and were missing a few senior players at St James’ Park. Forrest kept a clean sheet during the time he was on the pitch and the final score was 3-1. He played the next two league games as well, both league games before returning to Ipswich. The following season he was in opposition having joined West Ham.  

Jerry O’Brien is trying to remember when his grandfather first walked him the short 10 minutes to Stamford Bridge to see a game which he describes as Chelsea Reserves against Preston North End Reserves in either the 63/64 or 64/65 season. He thinks we lost 1-0.

Jerry wants to pinpoint the game exactly to see if it is 50 years he has been going to the Bridge or even longer.

That’s an impressive length of support and I would like to help pinpoint the game more than I can, but unfortunately I have no records of a match taking place that fits those details and back in those days, our reserve team played in the Football Combination which was made up of teams from the south of the country rather than northern sides such as Preston.

I can’t find any reserve team friendlies against Preston either but around that time, in April 1963, our first team did play against them in the old Division Two and won 2-0. The scorers were John Mortimore and Bert Murray.

If anyone is able to shed light on a reserve game against Preston in the early 60s then please email in, and similarly please do so if you can help with a different reserve game which particularly interests Matthew Kent, which is not surprising as he played in it!

Matthew wrote to say he was in a Southend United reserve side that took on a Chelsea 11 at Stamford Bridge in 1994/95, a game the then Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle arranged with his equivalent at Southend, Peter Taylor, to see if Hoddle was fit to play in the FA Cup final. Matthew has seen some pictures a friend had of the game but wondered if I could find some more so he could show his sons. He also played for the Chelsea Under-14, U15 and U16 teams before leaving to go to Southend as an apprentice.

The Southend boss Taylor had also been a team-mate of Hoddle when they were at Spurs but I can’t find any record of such a game against Chelsea. The season quoted may be a little misleading as that was the one after Hoddle’s side played in the FA Cup final (pictured below). Can anyone help please?

Chelsea Chadder raises an interesting question over the description of Joe Sheerin as Chelsea's shortest appearance maker, based on the young striker’s 89th-minute introduction as a substitute against Wimbledon back in 1997 when he didn’t touch the ball and then never played for our first team again. Incidentally this is one of the games Craig Forrest played in goal, as mentioned earlier in this Ask Statman.

Chelsea Chadder’s email points to Jacob Mellis, who came on late for Josh McEachran in November 2010, when we were playing MSK Zilina at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League.

The records say Mellis was introduced in the 92nd minute so it is true he could have an equal or shorter Chelsea career than Sheerin, but the problem is knowing exactly how many minutes added time were played at the end of the Wimbledon match and how that figure compares. Video footage for this game could be very hard to find.

So thanks to Chelsea Chadder for his email which puts Mellis in the frame for this not-so-illustrious place in our history.  

Next a question which requires a short answer followed by one that is a request for some goal statistics.

Yusuf asks has anyone from Chelsea ever been the Premier League Player of the Year.

Yes, but only once – Frank Lampard in 2005. Jose Mourinho was named Premier League Manager of Year in 2005 and 2006.

Ahmad Hussain from Nigeria requests the figures for the number of goals scored for and against Chelsea FC since the beginning of the Premier League era, plus the top 10 highest goal scorers and the number of goals each scored.

The Premier League began with the start of the 1992/93 season so since then the big numbers are:

Chelsea goals scored in the Premier League - 1489

Goals scored against Chelsea in the Premier League - 832

The top 10 highest Chelsea scorers in the Premier League:

Frank Lampard                147 goals

Didier Drogba                  103

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink  69

Gianfranco Zola                59

Eidur Gudjohnsen             54

Nicolas Anelka                 38

John Terry                        37

And there are three players on 36 goals – Salomon Kalou, Gustavo Poyet and John Spencer.


Staying with the national team theme, Kofi Gyawu Sarfo from Ghana would like to know the highest number of Chelsea players to have featured for one country. 

On two occasions we have had five on the pitch together and both times the team was England.

In 2003 versus Denmark, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Wayne Bridge were in action. Cole scored although England ended on the wrong side of a 3-2 result.

In 2006 against Holland the final score was 1-1 with Terry, Lampard, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips the Chelsea contingent. 

Another Ghanaian, Albert Osei-Antwi, wants to know how many Chelsea players since 1960 have been the top division’s topscorer for the season.

I’ll take my answer back a little further than 1960 so I can include the remarkable Jimmy Greaves’ 1958/59 haul when he netted 32 times in the First Division. He shared the leading scorer honours with Bobby Smith of Tottenham and previously of Chelsea.

In 60/61 Greaves was the league’s outright leading scorer with 41 goals and then there is a lengthy gap until Kerry Dixon hit 24 league goals on our return to the top flight in 84/85. Dixon shared the Golden Boot that year with Leicester’s Gary Lineker. What ever happened to him?

In 2000/01 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink claimed it with 22 goals and Drogba did so with 20 in 2006/07.

There is quite a run of Chelsea striker success around this time with Nicolas Anelka hitting 19 in 2008/09 and Drogba netting a magnificent 29 in the Double-winning 2009/10 season to finish the Premier League’s topscorer again. Here’s hoping Diego Costa adds his name to the list in a few weeks’ time. 

Prince Mensah asks have Chelsea ever beaten Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

We all know the Blues have had a special night there and at Stamford Bridge too, but purely in terms of the result on the night, the first four visits were defeats and we have drawn the last four. The games were:

1966 – Inter Cities Fairs Cup semi-final – we lost 2-0 which levelled the tie on aggregate so there was a play-off, also held in Barcelona which was lost 5-0.

2000 – a quarter-final in a memorable first Champions League season when we eventually went down 5-1 after extra-time.

2005 – Champions League Round of 16 – Jose Mourinho’s men lost 2-1 but would triumph in the second leg at the Bridge.

2006 – CL Round of 16 – drew 1-1.

2006 – CL group stage – drew 2-2, the night of the memorable Lampard strike from the byline and the late Drogba equaliser.

2009 – CL semi-final – drew 0-0

2012 – CL semi-final – drew 2-2 but it was the Blues who were our way to Munich.

To finish this Ask Statman and bringing us pretty much back up to date, Mario Antoine wants confirmation that Diego Costa was credited with the second goal in our Capital One Cup victory over Spurs at Wembley.

Indeed he was so he has 20 goals to his name so far this season, 19 in the Premier League.