Mason Mount made his 100th Premier League appearance for the Blues against Arsenal on Wednesday night – but was he the youngest to bring up this milestone for the club? Read on to find out…
It seems like only yesterday since Mount was marking his home debut in the English top flight with a goal against Leicester City; now he has a huge banner in his honour at Stamford Bridge, which was given another airing ahead of our latest Premier League fixture, when he brought up his century of Premier League appearances.
He was only 23 years and 100 days old when the game took place, but that’s still only enough to make him the fourth-youngest player to reach this milestone as a Blue. Read on to find out what he and the three men above him on the list had achieved by this stage of their Premier League journey…
After impressing on loan at Derby County under Frank Lampard, Mount was given his big chance for the Blues when Super Frank took the reins in the summer of 2019. He hasn’t looked back since. With 23 goals and 19 assists since then, he has been involved in more goals than any other English player in their first 100 Premier League games for the Blues.
His status as a key player was almost immediate, and at the end of his first campaign he confirmed as much by scoring a wonderful free-kick on the final day against Wolves to help seal Champions League qualification. He ended up making 53 appearances in all competitions, a record for a Chelsea Academy graduate.
Although some of his more noteworthy achievements have come in the cup competitions – he’s scored in a semi-final in each of his three seasons in the first team, across the FA Cup and Europe, as well as supplying the assist for the winner in last season’s Champions League final win – there have been other Premier League highlights.
This term he scored his first hat-trick in the competition as we thrashed Norwich City and he has already reached double figures for goals for the first time, despite there being a decent chunk of the season still to play.
A man who most of you will remember as Roberto Di Matteo’s assistant during our run to Champions League glory a decade ago was also a tidy midfielder back in his playing days.
Although he had to wait patiently to make a first-team breakthrough at a time when youngsters were being given chances left, right and centre, Newton marked his debut by scoring against Everton on the final day of the 1991/92 season. Fun fact: that goal at Goodison Park, in a 2-1 defeat, remains our last-ever goal in the Football League.
After that, Eddie was a mainstay of our team in the early years of the Premier League, initially as a midfielder who would bomb forward, and he scored twice late on in a thrilling win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
The goals soon dried up – he scored only four more in the league before hanging up his boots at the turn of the millennium, although he did famously net in our 1997 FA Cup final win – but his influence certainly didn’t wane, as new boss Glenn Hoddle utilised him as a No6 whose job was to shield the defence. As Newton said years later, ‘I was in the Makelele role before Makelele.’
His 100th appearance in the Premier League came in March 1995, 88 days after his 23rd birthday. It would be hard to call it even a bittersweet occasion, though, as we lost 3-0 at home to Leeds United and Newton was taken off after 25 minutes with an injury that kept him out for the rest of the season.
Although JT doesn’t quite make it to the top of this list, he’d already shown his credentials in other ways – he hadn’t even turned 21 when he took on the captain’s armband for the first time, on only his 43rd Premier League appearance for the Blues.
He was actually quite a late developer in youth football, having spent much of his time in midfield before being given a shot at the back. What a wise move that proved to be. However, at a time when we had Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf marshalling our back line, it was a slow and steady ascent to first-team level.
A late Christmas present of a Premier League debut on Boxing Day 1998 was the first of six appearances he’d make in the competition over the next two seasons. Indeed, it took the appointment of Claudio Ranieri, and his desire to trust in youth, that gave him his big break during the 2000/01 campaign – and JT went from strength to strength.
At the end of that season he was named Player of the Year by the supporters and he was a regular at the back, whether alongside his mentor Desailly or fellow youngster William Gallas, with whom he formed a watertight pairing. As stated previously, his leadership credentials were underlined two days before his 21st birthday when he was named captain against Charlton.
He was a month beyond turning 23, however, when he became a Premier League centurion, early in 2004. The occasion was marked with a clean sheet in a 4-0 win at Leicester City.
John Mikel Obi
The youngest player to reach a century of Premier League appearances for the Blues was still two months shy of his 23rd birthday when he brought up the milestone in a 2-0 win over Arsenal. That was a familiar theme of the Nigerian midfielder’s time at Chelsea, as we regularly got the better of the Gunners.
He’d arrived in the summer of 2006, shortly after the second of our back-to-back Premier League titles, and although his reputation was as a No10, Blues boss Jose Mourinho considered his attributes better suited to a defensive-midfield role.
That faith was rewarded at various points in his Chelsea career, most notably when he was an understated – outside the dressing room at least – presence in our 2012 Champions League-winning side. But early on in his time in the Premier League, it looked like Mikel’s physical approach would be his undoing.
After starting out with a series of substitute appearances, his first start in the Premier League lasted only 60 minutes before he was sent off against Reading. Midway through his second season at the club, he’d already seen red four times in all competitions, but he soon got to grip with what was required of him, becoming a solid, metronomic midfielder in front of the back four.
Halfway through our Double-winning campaign he reached 100 Premier League appearances – he was only 15 shy of his next century by the time he finally broke his duck in the competition…