Chelsea’s match against Leeds United this weekend will be our first Premier League meeting since May 2004 but it is by no means the longest gap we have experienced for a top-flight clashes against another club.
When we beat the already relegated Yorkshire side 1-0 in our final game of the 2003/04 season, it seemed unfathomable that it would be another 16 years before we renewed our rivalry with them in the Premier League.
However, the 16-year gap still pales in comparison with these other long waits between top-flight matches for the Blues.
Stoke City – 23 years
A David Speedie strike secured a 1-0 win in what proved Chelsea’s last top-tier game at the Victoria Ground in May 1985 as the Potters were relegated after a dismal campaign in which they managed only 17 points. They did not return until 2008 when they finished comfortably in mid-table despite losing both matches against the Blues, 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium and 2-1 at the Bridge.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – 24 years
A 2-1 loss at the Bridge in March 1979 was our last top-flight meeting with Wolves for 24 years as we were relegated in that campaign and we exchanged places with the Black Country side when they suffered the drop and we were promoted in 1984. It was not until September 2003 when we met in the Premier League with the Blues romping to a 5-0 win at Molineux.
Blackburn Rovers – 26 years
When Chelsea met Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge in a 0-0 draw in our fourth game of the inaugural Premier League season in August 1992, it was our first top-flight match against the Lancashire side since we had beaten them 1-0 at the same venue in May 1966.
Fulham – 34 years
Craven Cottage may be less than three kilometres from our home ground but we didn’t play a top-flight game at Fulham’s historic home ground from December 1967 until September 2001 when our nearest neighbours finally regained their place among the elite. Both west London derby games ended in 1-1 draws.
Burnley – 35 years
Despite winning 2-1 at Turf Moor in August 1974, Chelsea suffered relegation that season with Burnley following us down to the second tier a year later. They slipped all the way down to Division Four before finally returning in 2009 with the Blues romping to a 3-0 win when the side met at the Bridge in August.
Blackpool – 39 years
Nearly four decades separated our last two top-flight matches against Blackpool at Stamford Bridge in March 1971 and September 2010. We beat the Tangerines 2-0 in the former with goals by David Webb and Tommy Baldwin and romped to a 4-0 victory in the latter as Florent Malouda netted twice.
Huddersfield Town – 45 years
Chelsea’s 3-1 victory at the John Smith’s Stadium in December 2017 courtesy of goals by Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro was our first match against the Yorkshire side in the top tier for 45 years following a 2-2 draw in west London in January 1972.
Cardiff City – 52 years
Cardiff recorded two early-season wins against Chelsea in September 1961, winning 5-2 at Ninian Park and 3-2 at the Bridge but the Welsh side were relegated along with us at the end of the 1961/62 season and didn’t regain their top-flight status for over half a century. They finally returned in 2013 but an Eden Hazard brace helped the Blues thump the Bluebirds 4-1 when we met in London in October.
Oldham Athletic – 69 years
Nearly seven decades separated Chelsea’s Division One visits to Boundary Park in October 1922 and August 1991 but neither trip proved fruitful for the Blues as we lost 2-0 in the former and 3-0 in the latter.
Bradford City – 78 years
Chelsea’s longest gap between top-flight games was the 78 years which separated our 1-0 victory over Bradford at Valley Parade in Division One in November 1921 and their Premier League visit to Stamford Bridge shortly before the turn of the century in November 1999. Tore Andre Flo gave the Blues an early lead in that game but we were unable to turn our dominance into further goals in our 1-0 win over the Bantams.