Our look back at the 2004/05 season continues with the game when Chelsea burst into life, helped by the introduction off the bench of one Northern European, and a maiden hat-trick by another...
'I don't know how many times I have scored two goals, but I have never scored a hat-trick outside of schoolboy football. I will get one.'Eidur Gudjohnsen
'It doesn’t matter how many goals I score, it’s all about the team. The most important thing was the victory.' How often have you heard those words uttered by a striker in a post-match interview, typically after they have just netted a goal or two to help their side to victory? They are at least half right.
Nobody is fooled when a striker says his goal tally is irrelevant. There are, of course, plenty of other factors which contribute to a centre-forward’s worth to a team, but few things can eclipse that feeling when you’ve just put the ball in the back of the net.
Eidur Gudjohnsen admitted as much. While his creative abilities - built around a velvet touch - eventually convinced Jose Mourinho that he was best deployed further back, the Icelandic forward loved scoring goals and he wasn’t shy of saying so. That’ll be the Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink influence.
In October 2003, after a League Cup game against Notts County, Eidur had contributed two goals in our 4-2 victory - but he wasn’t entirely happy.
'I don't know how many times I have scored two goals, but I have never scored a hat-trick outside of schoolboy football,' bemoaned the Blues forward. 'The thought that might change tonight did cross my mind.
'But as in so many games before, I couldn't get the hat-trick so I will have to save it for another day. I will get one.'
One year later, almost to the day, Gudjohnsen got his wish. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Blues.
After 10 games unbeaten in all competitions, a first setback. Manchester City, managed by Kevin Keegan and still a few years away from the major investment which would see them regularly competing for major honours, inflicted Mourinho’s maiden defeat as Chelsea manager.
The only goal of the game was scored by a familiar face to the Stamford Bridge faithful. After Howard Webb had contentiously adjudged Paulo Ferreira to have brought down Nicolas Anelka in the penalty area, the French striker stepped up to beat Petr Cech.
Chelsea’s best chance fell to Gudjohnsen late on, but the no.22 slashed wildly at the ball to send it harmlessly wide. The team had scored just eight goals in nine Premier League games, only one of which had been contributed by the blond striker - and that had come on the opening day.
‘It’s just not good enough at the moment because we’re not scoring,’ wrote John Terry in his Captain’s Team Talk for the matchday programme. ‘We used to say if we got the chances it doesn’t matter, but it’s come to the stage now that we’ve got to start scoring goals.
‘We feel there’s so much more to come from the team. We’re still the side that have had the most shots on goal in the Premiership, but we have to convert some of these efforts.’
Time to set things straight against a Blackburn Rovers side struggling at the foot of the table and now being managed by Chelsea legend, and boyhood supporter, Mark Hughes. Despite the visitors’ struggles, they could at least cling to a fantastic record at Stamford Bridge, where they were unbeaten in all 10 Premier League meetings between the sides.
By half-time, however, there was little doubt that record would not be extending to 11 matches. Frank Lampard and Joe Cole provided the assists for two quick-fire Gudjohnsen goals before the break and, discounting the half-time interval, the lone frontman had the chance to complete a 14-minute hat-trick when he was brought down in the box by Craig Short.
According to the usually ice-veined forward, there was still a search party out looking for the ball when he had previously had the chance to complete a hat-trick from the penalty spot. With the match-ball at stake once again, this time the outcome was never in doubt.
The previously elusive treble was now Gudjohnsen’s, one week on from his old partner in crime, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, also bagging a hat-trick against Rovers for his new side Middlesbrough.
'I’ve hit two goals a number of times, but never a hat-trick,' said Gudjohnsen after the game, reiterating his statement from 12 months previous. 'Now I have – it’s very pleasing and something I will always treasure.'
His manager’s post-match assessment still left room for improvement, however.
'Strikers take confidence from scoring but maybe he has played better in other matches without scoring,' said Mourinho.
'I am delighted with him and it is really important for his confidence. He has now scored four goals in 10 matches and that is okay for a player like him.'
While Gudjohnsen’s hat-trick was the show-stopper just a matter of minutes after the interval, it didn't signal the end of the entertainment.
Arjen Robben had yet to make his competitive bow for the Blues after his summer switch from PSV Eindhoven after a crude lunge by Roma’s Olivier Dacourt had left him with a broken bone and ligament damage to his foot. Finally fit again, he was brought off the substitutes’ bench to a rousing Stamford Bridge welcome.
'The reaction I got from the fans gave me goosebumps all over my body,' revealed the Dutch winger. His first touch in a Chelsea shirt returned the favour to the Blues faithful. A long pass in his direction was controlled and, in one fluid motion, Robben had turned his marker. The bemused Blackburn defender had no idea what had hit him - a familiar feeling for defenders over the course of the next decade.
Damien Duff made it 4-0 to Chelsea soon after, but the real scorer Chelsea fans were yearning for was Mateja Kezman. Without a competitive goal for his new club since he had followed Robben to west London from PSV, the return of his chief supply line should have marked a comeback to the days when the duo were known as Batman and Robben.
It all looked so perfect: Robben exchanged passes with Duff, raced away from his full-back and cut the ball back to an unmarked Kezman in the six-yard box.
'GOOOOOOAAAAA… OOOOOOHHHH,' came the cry from around Stamford Bridge. Somehow the Serbian had contrived to find the crossbar instead of the back of the net. What had Mourinho said about strikers and confidence?
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- By Richard Godden - Chelsea matchday programme editor
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