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Goal-getters

Today we come up against Everton, who boast the highest scorer in a single top-flight league season in England – but which Chelsea strikers have come closest to matching the great Dixie Dean over the years?

The greatest goalscorer to grace English football is a debate which has gone on over the years and most will have their own opinion on the matter. What isn't up for discussion, however, is the most prolific man in one top-flight season.

During 1927/28, Everton striker Dean appeared in 39 matches and found the back of the net a scarcely believable 60 times. That's a record that is likely to stand the test of time; even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, widely regarded as the greatest players of the modern era, have 'only' reached 50 and 48 goals respectively in a single La Liga campaign.

Has any Chelsea player ever come close to threatening Dean's record? The short answer to that question is: no. However, that's not to say there haven't been some spectacular goalscoring seasons from our strikers over the years – it's just that Dean set the bar so high that even getting within touching distance of it would be miraculous.

Jimmy Greaves, it should surprise no one, came closer than any other Blues player as he smashed in 41 First Division goals in the 1960/61 season, which happened to be his last for the club.

With 366 top-flight goals from a career which ended prematurely at the age of 31, he was long the all-time leading scorer across Europe’s big five leagues and hitting the back of the net was all he thought about.

'My idea of heaven would be to score goals all night, having spent all day scoring goals,” he wrote in his autobiography Greavsie. “I don’t know why, but I found it easy – it came naturally to me.

'When I scored, I’d just sigh softly to myself, as if all my cares had been lifted from me. Inside I felt a deep contentment, not just about that particular goal, more from the knowledge that I could still do it. That I still had the gift.'

Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn't match up to his extraordinary standards. Even 41 strikes in the 1960/61 season could only take us as high as 12th place – and he needed a stunning final effort to get him over the 40-goal mark.

He was made captain ahead his final game, against Nottingham Forest, and went on score four times in a seven-goal thriller. 'It could not have ended better in a fairytale,' he said.

The next best on our list is Didier Drogba, although it should be noted Greaves also matched the Ivorian's tally of 29 and netted 32 in the seasons preceding his club-record tally. Nonetheless, Didier's place as Chelsea's premier goalscorer during his trophy-laden stay with the club is not in doubt.

He twice won the Premier League Golden Boot while wearing blue, most memorably in the 2009/10 campaign when he smashed in 29 goals to lead us to our fourth top-flight title. As part of the most prolific Chelsea side of the modern era, he scored all types of goals – free-kicks, tap-ins, headers, thunderous strikes, well-placed finishes – and he was the go-to guy in the vital moments.

We were only given a fleeting glimpse of the next man on the list, Tommy Lawton, who arrived at Stamford Bridge as arguably the best centre-forward in the country. In fact, it could be argued he was our first world-class signing, and he was brought in shortly before our glamour friendly with Moscow Dynamo in 1945 which attracted a record crowd.

The fans continued to flock to see the finest centre-forward in the land during a goal-laden stint with the Blues, which included 26 Division One goals in his only full campaign at the club before he left for Notts County, then of Division Three, for a British record transfer fee.

Next we come to two famous No9s, between whom the club endured eight years without the fabled 20-goal a season man: Kerry Dixon and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The former fired us up to the top flight before marking his maiden top-flight season with 24 goals to share the Division One Golden Boot award with Gary Lineker in 1984/85.

It wasn't until 2001 that another Blue won that prize, with Hasselbaink the man to do it after joining for a club-record fee from Atletico Madrid. He beasted his way to 23 goals in his maiden season, a tally he matched the following campaign, to establish himself as a Blues favourite.

His popularity was still dwarfed by that of Peter Osgood, the King of Stamford Bridge and still the only former Blue to be honoured with his own statue at Stamford Bridge. While there was so much more to Ossie's game than simply goals, he fired in 23 himself during the 1969/70 season. That was overshadowed by the eight he netted in the FA Cup, becoming the last man to score in every round of the competition as the Blues lifted the trophy for the first time in our history.

We've focused on our post-war goal kings, but prior to the conflict there were several others who did enough to earn a place on the list of our top league scorers in a single campaign. Hughie Gallacher netted 24 times in his most prolific season, while both Bob Whittingham and the great George Hilsdon both matched and bettered that tally with two goal-filled campaigns apiece.

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