Having looked at squad additions made and the schedule ahead in the first part of our 2020/21 season preview, in this section we have stats and stories as we close in on the new campaign...
Chelsea played one pre-season friendly match ahead of the coming season. These are the details: Brighton 1 Chelsea 1Amex Stadium, 3pm 29 August 2020(4-2-3-1) Arrizabalaga (Caballero h/t); James (Lawrence 66), Christensen (Azpilicueta h/t), Clarke-Salter (Rudiger h/t), Alonso (Maatsen 66); Kante (c) (Ampadu 61), Kovacic (Baker 61); Ziyech (Gallagher 54), Loftus-Cheek (McCormick 72), Hudson-Odoi (Vale 72); Werner (Giroud 61) (Castillo 90+5)Booked: Alonso 34Scorer: Werner 4Penalty save: Caballero 49 (Maupay)Attendance: 2,524
Read: Pre-Season Briefing part one - the magnetism of Frank Lampard
Chelsea summer transfer moves
Ins 1 Jul Hakim Ziyech Ajax1 Jul Timo Werner RB Leipzig20 Aug Xavier Mbuyamba Barcelona26 Aug Ben Chilwell Leicester City27 Aug Malang Sarr Nice28 Aug Thiago Silva Paris Saint Germain4 Sep Kai Havertz Bayer Leverkusen6 Sep Teddy Sharman-Lowe Burton Albion
Outs22 Jun Mario Pasalic Atalanta1 Jul Nathan Atletico Mineiro1 Jul Josh Grant Released, now Bristol Rovers1 Jul Richard Nartey Released1 Jul Marcel Lavinier Released30 Jul Nicolas Tie Vitoria Guimaraes9 Aug Pedro Released, now Roma9 Aug Willian Released, now Arsenal12 Aug Jacob Maddox Vitoria Guimaraes
Premier LeagueEthan Ampadu Sheffield UnitedMichy Batshuayi Crystal Palace
ChampionshipJamal Blackman Rotherham UnitedIzzy Brown Sheffield WednesdayMarc Guehi Swansea City
League OneTeddy Sharman-Lowe Burton Albion
League TwoJamie Cumming StevenageTariq Uwakwe Accrington Stanley
La Liga (Spain)Kenedy Granada
Ligue 1 (France)Trevoh Chalobah Lorient
Eredivisie (Netherlands)Armando Broja Vitesse Arnhem
First Division A (Belgium)Ike Ugbo Cercle Brugge
First Division B (Belgium)Charlie Brown Royale Union Saint-Gilloise
Primeira Liga (Portugal)Lucas Piazon Rio Ave
Super Liga (Serbia)Danilo Pantic Cukaricki
Upcoming Chelsea milestones
Player milestonesKepa Arrizabalaga - Five appearances to 100 in all competitionsCesar Azpilicueta - 14 appearances to 400 in all competitionsMarcos Alonso - One appearance to 150 in all competitionsMichy Batshuayi - Two appearances to 50 in the Premier LeagueJorginho - Two appearances to 100 in all competitionsMateo Kovacic - Two appearances to 100 in all competitionsBen Chilwell - One appearance to 100 in Premier League (all clubs)Olivier Giroud - One appearances to reach 100 caps for France
Club milestones Chelsea’s next away win in Europe will be our 50th in all competitions on the continent.
Our second league match of the season against Newcastle United will be the 150th between the two sides since 1907.
The Londoners can extend the unbeaten Premier League run against Everton at Stamford Bridge to 26 matches.
Beating Arsenal next time out will draw the Blues level on points in matches between the two over the Premier League era. We already have a superior goal difference (4/-4).
The third league point gained by the Blues will be our 2,000th of the Premier League era. Manchester Utd and Arsenal are the only teams to have reached that landmark.
Looking forward to the Premier League
A good start can be vital in this competition, and arguably even more so in this short, packed campaign. The opening half-dozen league games will go some way to indicating how we are shaping up: the equivalent six fixtures last season (substituting relegated Watford for promoted West Bromwich Albion) secured just seven points for the Blues from a possible 18.
There will be some familiar faces among new boys - Fulham, Leeds and Albion. Not least Fulham’s coach, Scott Parker, part of the midfield at Stamford Bridge from February 2004 to summer 2005. His defence includes Michael Hector, who was on Chelsea’s books from 2015 (though on loan) until his switch last summer.
Leeds have forward Patrick Bamford, who signed for the Blues from Nottingham Forest in January 2012 but departed for Middlesbrough in 2017. The third elevated club, West Brom, have no Chelsea strong connections in their squad, though fitness coach Ade Mafe was a conditioning specialist for the Blues in the mid-Nineties. Their return also puts the Hawthorns, the scene of our most recent title-clinching victory, back on the Premier League map.
The return of our postcode rivals and the Baggies adds two long home unbeaten runs to the Blues’ schedule. Albion last won at the Bridge on 30 September 1978 (15 matches ago), while the Whites’ most recent success came on 27 October 1979.
After finishing 10 points ahead of Arsenal last season, Chelsea remain third in the all-time Premier League table, now just 14 points behind our north London neighbours in second.
League games against local neighbours are also back for the first time since March 2019. The Blues have not lost a west London derby since March 2006, 20 matches ago, and have won each of the past five such encounters.
Since Roman Abramovich arrived at the Bridge in the summer of 2003, Chelsea have accumulated 1,332 points from the 646 league matches played. Over that same period Manchester Utd are second best with 1,326, then Arsenal 1,238, Liverpool 1,217, Manchester City 1,176 and Tottenham 1,088.
Looking forward to the Champions League
This will be Chelsea’s 17th Champions League campaign in 21 seasons, and it starts later than usual as a result of the pandemic but finishes at the normal time in December.Play-off matches will conclude on 30 September and the group stage draw will take place in Athens, Greece, on 1 October. The Blues, London’s only representatives in the competition, will be in Pot 2, with potential opponents including Bayern, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Porto, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Zenit from Pot 1; plus two of Ajax, Atalanta, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bruges, Inter, Istanbul Basaksehir, Lazio, Leipzig, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Rennes and others yet to qualify for other pots.
Four of the weekend matches following a Champions League group game will be at home, two on the road.
All fixtures may be moved for live TV
Looking forward to the FA Cup
Football’s oldest club competition is in its 140th year. A few changes have been made to regulations to accommodate a tighter fixtures schedule than usual. For example, all replays have been scrapped this season, and prize money has been pegged back to 2017/18 levels. The final is booked for Saturday 15 May 2021 at Wembley, eight days before the Premier League season concludes.
Chelsea’s recent record in the FA Cup2019/20 Runners-up2018/19 Round 52017/18 Winners2016/17 Runners-up2015/16 Quarter-finalists2014/15 Round 4
Looking forward to the Carabao Cup
The 61st League Cup campaign will also see a few changes this season. Rounds two, three and four will be played on consecutive midweek dates starting 15/16 September. The semi-finals will be reduced from the usual two legs to a one-off, and the final staged at Wembley on Sunday 28 February.
Most Premier League sides will enter the fray in round two, while the campaign for Chelsea and other clubs in European competitions will start in the third round. The Blues have been drawn to host the winners of Tuesday’s Middlesbrough-Barnsley match at the Riverside, the match set for 22 or 23 September at the Bridge.
Chelsea’s recent record in the League Cup2019/20 Round 42018/19 Runners-up2017/18 Semi-finalists2016/17 Round 42015/16 Round 42014/15 Winners
The international breaks
In a schedule with few pauses for breath, FIFA has so far set the following dates for international matches: 3-8 September, 10-14 October, and 14-18 November.
Changes to regulations
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has often ruled out a goal because of a handling incident in the build-up, sometimes long before the ball hit net. From 2020/21 it will not be an offence if ‘after an accidental handball, the ball travels some distance (pass or dribble) and/or there are several passes before the goal or goalscoring opportunity.’
No doubt the main talking point this season will be the redefinition of what actually constitutes handball, as contact with the upper arm/shoulder area will no longer be considered illegal. Instead, a free-kick will only be awarded when the ball touches parts of the arm below a horizontal line from the bottom of the armpit.
Another change likely to be noticed is that any interference (not just a foul) in a promising attack will be punishable by a caution. However, should the referee allow play to continue, or permit the resulting free-kick to be taken quickly, the yellow card will not be issued.
On missed penalties, a goalkeeper’s encroachment will only require a retake should he save the kick. If the taker hits the post or shoots off-target, no action is taken unless the goalie’s antics have a ‘material impact on the kick being missed.’ Also, any part of a non-taking player’s boot in the penalty area is now considered encroachment.
Five substitutions from a bench pool of nine were allowed for the tail-end of last season, but Premier League clubs recently voted to go back to three from seven. Rehydration breaks will no longer be allowed.
There are tweaks to the VAR protocol too. Referees will be encouraged to use the pitch-side review screen regarding goals, red cards and penalties. And on marginal offside decisions, assistants have been told only to raise their flag when the phase ends with a shot on goal.
Chelsea anniversaries in 2020/21
Twenty-five years ago this season, Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes both made their debuts for the Blues at home to Everton (19 August 1995).This month marks the 90th anniversary of Scottish superstars Hughie Gallacher and Alec Cheyne opening their Chelsea account in a 6-2 thrashing of Man United for the newly promoted Pensioners (6 September 1930)In October it will be 60 years since Chelsea’s League Cup bow – a 7-1 thrashing of Millwall in round one (10 October 1960).
16 September will mark 50 years since Chelsea’s debut in a UEFA competition: a 1-1 draw at Aris Salonika in the Cup Winners’ Cup (16 September 1970).Fifty years ago in October, captain for the day Peter Bonetti kept a clean sheet and matched Ken Armstrong’s club record of 362 league appearances for the Blues (18 October 1970).
On 22 October it will be 60 years since Bonetti’s predecessor Reg Matthews made the last of his record nine penalty saves, against Burnley (22 October 1960).13 November 2020 will be the 75th anniversary of the epic friendly visit of Moscow Dynamo to the Bridge (13 November 1945).November also brings the 60th anniversary of the Blues’ all-time record victory in the League Cup: 7–0 away to Doncaster Rovers in round three (16 November 1960).Forty years ago, between December 1980 and May 1981, Chelsea failed to score in 19 of 22 matches at the end of the Division Two campaign, slipping from second in the table to 12th.In January 2021 it will be 10 years since striker Fernando Torres joined Chelsea from Liverpool for a club record fee (31 January 2011).February brings the 30th anniversary of Chelsea winning 2-1 to inflict Arsenal’s only league defeat of the season (2 February 1991).In February 2021 it will be 30 years since heartache for the Blues again in the club’s fifth ever League Cup semi-final (24 and 27 February 1991).25 March will be the 110th anniversary of Chelsea competing in the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time, and at only the sixth attempt (25 March 1911).On 5 May it will be a seventy years since a 4-0 home victory over Bolton produced Chelsea’s ‘great escape’ with a goal average just 0.044 better than relegated Sheffield Wednesday (5 May 1951).May will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1970/71 Cup Winners’ Cup final and replay against Real Madrid (19 and 21 May 1971), the Blues’ first European triumph.Sixty years ago, in 1960/61, Jimmy Greaves recorded the most league goals in a season for Chelsea (41).
The 1960/61 campaign also saw the Blues record the fewest-ever clean sheets in a league campaign: one from 42 matches.