Five years ago this month we began a club-record run of victories in all competitions by beating Southampton. Here’s a look back at how that record has changed over the years, dating back to our very first season 116 years ago…
The first significant winning run in Chelsea’s history came in the second half of our maiden campaign in the Football League, in 1905/06, as we won five Division Two matches on the bounce. The new team went on its best run of the season between February and March.
While all eyes were regularly on goalkeeper William ‘Fatty’ Foulke at the Bridge, it was actually our free-scoring attack who led the way, as 21 goals were scored. Frank Pearson, in his only season with the club, was on target in all five matches, while Irish international Jack Kirwan and Jimmy Windridge added three apiece.
We have regularly surpassed that tally of wins in recent times, particularly during the 21st Century, but back in those early days we were a long way from the force we have become in the modern era.
Indeed, it took until the 1921/22 season for us to register seven wins on the bounce – incredibly, that accounted for more than a third of our Division One victories that season, and it all played out during a three-week spell in April.
At this time in English football, in the years following the First World War, teams typically played each other home and away in consecutive fixtures, so our run took in only four teams. Everton, Aston Villa and Sunderland were dispatched twice and Huddersfield once, although the Terriers ended our winning sequence on the final day of the season.
Five years later we set a new record that would stand for almost 80 years, although it should be noted that Chelsea were in the second tier by this stage. However they managed a run the current crop of Blues would be proud of, as six of the victories were achieved with a clean sheet.
Jimmy Thompson, later to become a legendary scout who would uncover Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Tambling and many more, was a regular scorer that term, but we narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight.
By the time we finally surpassed eight victories in a row, much had changed at Stamford Bridge. For starters, we were now Premier League champions, having lifted the trophy in 2004/05 – and we started the following season with all the confidence of a championship-winning group, as we won our first nine matches in all competitions.
After beating Arsenal in the Community Shield, we won seven straight games without conceding, including a last-gasp triumph at newly promoted Wigan Athletic thanks to a Hernan Crespo stunner.
Even when Luke Moore finally found a way to breach our miserly rearguard for Aston Villa, we still emerged victorious, but our flawless start to the campaign ended in the next match with a goalless draw against Liverpool in the Champions League.
Our only winning run to hit double figures came in the last season that we were crowned Premier League champions – and it’s fair to say that the title was won during these 10 matches, when we saw out 2016 in style.
It was during a defeat to Arsenal in September that we switched to a 3-4-3 formation and soon after it all clicked into place, starting against Hull City. However, we lost to West Ham United a few games later, so this club-record winning streak began at Southampton at the end of October.
Several players stepped up to the plate, most notably Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Willian, as we surged ahead of our rivals. The 10th game in the run – each of which was in the Premier League – came on the final day of the year against Stoke City, before we lost to Tottenham in our opening game of 2017.