It was the winter of 2004/05 that Chelsea seized control of the Premier League title race, scoring goals for fun and proving unbeatable in defence, and the yellow ball used during that memorable period for the Blues has been remade by Nike, as they continue to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their partnership with the Premier League.
The Hi-vis T90 Aerow debuted on Saturday 6 November 2004, the day Everton visited Stamford Bridge. David Moyes’ side would go on to finish fourth, and it wasn’t until the closing stages of an engrossing encounter that Arjen Robben netted the winner with his first Premier League goal (pictured top). It was an early exponent of the Dutchman’s electric pace and finishing ability, and it was no surprise when, a few weeks later, he was named the league’s Player of the Month for November.
That was also the day we went top of the table for the first time, edging ahead of Arsenal who had drawn. It was a position we never relinquished.
We contested 15 more league games with that yellow Nike ball, winning 12, drawing the other three and setting records along the way.
Almost the entirety of Petr Cech’s remarkable 1024 minutes without conceding – an English top-flight record at the time – came during these months. That run started during an important draw at our nearest challenges Arsenal in mid-December, and ended an hour into our first league game in March, at Norwich, when the white ball had returned.
In the interim were thoroughly enjoyable wins at Anfield and White Hart Lane, and dogged victories away to Portsmouth, Blackburn and Everton.
The Blues had ended October with 4-0 and 4-1 successes over Blackburn and West Brom respectively, and the most goal-laden period of one of our greatest seasons continued when the nights drew in. In the space of six games we hit four more past each of Fulham, Charlton, Newcastle and Norwich.
A near-flawless run during the four months the ball was in use earned recognition for Jose Mourinho, who was named the Manager of the Month for December and January, a time when titles are won and lost.
On the pitch, a series of Chelsea legends chipped in. Alongside Cech and his defence’s heroics, Robben scored seven goals, Didier Drogba six, Frank Lampard four, and Eidur Gudjohnsen, Damien Duff and John Terry three apiece.
Mateja Kezman’s penalty against Newcastle was his first Chelsea goal and the celebrations afterwards remain iconic.
Bookended by tight victories over Everton, our games using the Hi-vis T90 Aerow laid the foundations for our maiden Premier League title triumph that would follow a couple of months later. In a remarkable, record-breaking season, this was an awesome Chelsea team at its most emphatic.
Check in to Match Centre on The 5th Stand app during tomorrow’s game to stand the chance to win one of the limited edition Nike balls and a signed shirt.