Having previewed and chronicled our games throughout 2021/22, it is time for club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton to share final thoughts, records and statistics from a campaign that won’t be forgotten in a hurry…
A season of some promises fulfilled, others dashed, alongside extraordinary disruptions finished with Chelsea adding two more prizes to the roll of honour, including the final elusive piece in the jigsaw. But for small margins we could easily be writing about a haul of four trophies.
As it is, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup are the second and third honours since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival 18 months ago. Chelsea are England’s most recent winners of all four major international club competitions, and the reigning champions in those two until August.
In the Premier League the Blues were firm, early title contenders and led the way throughout autumn before a difficult winter of illness and injury. Players were ruled out for 246 days because of injury or sickness, more than double last season’s 112. Edou Mendy missed seven matches while winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, though absence through suspension was down from eight games a year ago to one this term.
The final points tally of 74 is the highest since we last lifted the trophy in 2016/17 with 93 and the Londoners were first-half champions, becoming the first team in Premier League history to see out a whole season without trailing at half-time.
Chelsea became the first London club to register 600 Premier League wins with a home victory over Aston Villa. Ranking third on goals for and against overall, the Blues were a major force on the road, with the third-highest points tally and not a single away goal conceded in the opening quarter-hour.
That contrasted with merely the sixth best record on home soil, and being one of only five teams with a negative home ‘advantage’. Only Leeds (nine) and Watford (14) allowed more goals by visiting teams over the final 15 minutes of matches than the eight at Stamford Bridge.
Sanctions did not help the discomforts of home. The final five Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge had to conform to a restrictive licence, reducing attendance to home season ticket holders only plus visiting fans. The weary hosts failed to win three of those fixtures.
In the end, Chelsea finished third in the top division for only the ninth time ever.
Just two days were spent outside the top four – fewer than any other team – as the 2020/21 champions of Europe qualified for a 19th Champions League campaign. No English club played more matches this season than the world champions, though Liverpool equalled our tally of 63.
Tottenham were one of eight teams beaten home and away by the Blues in the league – for the second time in three seasons, following a gap of 14 years. Wins in both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-finals too produced our most successes against the Lilywhite neighbours in a single season.
By scoring one and setting up another in the win at Leeds, Mason Mount became the first Chelsea player to record a goal and an assist in the same game on six separate occasions since Premier League records began.
Ross Barkley’s winning header at home to Watford made him the Blues’ 21st different goalscorer across all competitions, beating the club record of 20 set during the 2015/16 campaign.
Along with skipper Cesar Azpilicueta, Kenedy was on the scoresheet that season six years ago. The Brazilian left-back's third ever Chelsea assist, for Kai Havertz’ opener against Watford, came 2,433 days after his first, for Ramires in the League Cup against Walsall in September 2015. His only other set-up was at an FA Cup tie against Norwich in January 2018.
Havertz reaffirmed his man-for-the-moment reputation by scoring the 100th league goal of Thomas Tuchel’s tenure, also at home to Watford (the first coming from Azpilicueta against Burnley in January 2021) as well as the 2,000th strike of the Roman Abramovich era at home to Burnley.
At Newcastle, Jorginho became the first player to register 10 consecutive goals from the penalty spot in Premier League history. The Italy midfielder scored 10 Premier League penalties in 2021, a record for a single calendar year.
Edou Mendy became the second quickest Chelsea player to achieve 30 clean sheets. He did so after 54 games, whereas Petr Cech reached the milestone in 51 games. Against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup, Kepa Arrizabalaga moved ahead of Cech on penalty shoot-out saves, setting a new club record of seven. He ended the season on eight.
In his debut season, Academy graduate defender Trevoh Chalobah was unbeaten after 25 starts on all fronts (excluding penalty shoot-outs), including 16 wins, nine draws and 12 clean sheets. At 22 years and 40 days, Chalobah was our second-youngest-ever goalscoring debutant in the Premier League (at home to Crystal Palace), after Paul Hughes in January 1997 (20 years, 274 days).
Achieving at home and abroad
Two goals without reply at the Bridge in the round of 16 against Lille meant Chelsea registered six consecutive Champions League home wins with a clean sheet for the first time in our history. We bowed out in the quarter-finals (our third exit at that stage since 2000) despite a hugely impressive victory at Real Madrid. In the group stage the Blues’ stunning 4-0 thrashing of Juventus represents their heaviest-ever defeat in the competition, and in all competitions since 2004.
Before a Premier League ball was kicked the Super Cup was secured for the second time (Liverpool remain the only English side to have won more), making us the only club in Europe to have won all three major UEFA trophies twice over. Extra-time and penalties were required in Belfast before victory over Villarreal was secured.
The museum at the Bridge was still missing one last trophy, but that was finally claimed in February. The FIFA Club World Cup, delayed from December and switched from Japan to United Arab Emirates because of coronavirus concerns, saw the Blues beat Asia champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia 1-0, then Sao Paulo side Palmeiras, the Copa Libertadores champions, 2-1 after extra time.
Havertz, the player who earned Chelsea’s ticket to the tournament by scoring the winner against Man City in the Champions League final, delivered again, this time from the penalty spot. The gold Club World Cup badge has been worn ever since. His compatriot Timo Werner recorded our quickest ever Champions League strike, timed at one minute 23 seconds, away to Zenit St Petersburg.
The Abu Dhabi victory made Cesar Azpilicueta the only Chelsea player to have won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.
At home to Malmo, Jorginho became the first Chelsea player to score two penalties in the same match for the third time (after Ajax in 2019/20 and Crystal Palace 2020/21), and repeated the 12-yard brace against Leeds and Aston Villa.
Thiago Silva also rolled back the years. Against Tottenham at home, aged 37 years and 123 days, he became the oldest Chelsea player to find the net in the Premier League, beating Didier Drogba, who scored against Leicester City aged 37 years and 49 days in April 2015.
At home to Arsenal, the Brazil centre-back became our oldest outfield player in the Premier League (aged 37 years and 210 days), overtaking Graham Rix (37 years, 203 days) and Glenn Hoddle (37 years, 199 days). Both those two played their last game for the Blues against the Gunners in May 1995. He ended the season 37 years and 242 days old and is the oldest outfield player (37 years and 234 days) to start an FA Cup final since Stanley Matthews in the 1953 final for Blackpool, aged 38.
At the other end of the scale, Lewis Hall became the youngest Chelsea player to start an FA Cup game for the club, aged just 17 years and 122 days against Chesterfield. Previous holder of that record, Ethan Ampadu, was three days older when selected against Norwich in 2018.
Prior to the injury that ended his season, Ben Chilwell became the first English player to score in four consecutive Premier League games for the Blues since Frank Lampard in 2013.
Lille away brought Thomas Tuchel’s 50th victory in his 78th game in charge across all competitions: an exceptional 64.1 per cent win rate. It was also the 32nd win in 50 Champions League matches as a coach, surpassing Zinedine Zidane’s previous record by one.
The Bavarian joined seven other bosses who have earned 100 or more points from their opening 50 Premier League outings, and is the fourth Chelsea man to do so after Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte.
In part two of our Post-Season Briefing tomorrow, silverware, penalties, homegrown players and the new era are looked at in close detail...