Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The hope is the EPL is back on NBC sometime soon. Until then, NBC Sports Washington is devoting a week of stories to each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we miss the Premier League, too.
Our first week continues with a look at Chelsea, a Premier League surprise this season but a club which went from a complete afterthought for almost half a century in England to a powerhouse rivaling any in Europe the past 15 years.
For 49 seasons, Chelsea was the little brother of English soccer.
From 1956 to 2004, the Blues watched every major rival win a championship. Arsenal won the top division six times, Everton four, Tottenham and Manchester City once each. And Liverpool (13) and Manchester United (12) were in a class by themselves.
Calling Chelsea an afterthought would be generous in those years after they won the title in 1955. They were relegated from the top flight four times. They once spent five years in the second division from 1979 to 1984. Other than a handful of F.A. Cup wins, there wasn't much to go on.
That’s all changed now in the 21st century. Little brother has become one of the gleaming jewels of European soccer. Chelsea has won the Premier League five times since nabbing that first one in the 2004-05 season.
This year’s club surprised before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic halted play in March, but the young squad has a lot to live up to. An unlikely fourth in the standings with possibly nine games to go if the games restart this summer, that’s not going to satisfy many Chelsea fans in west London - and around the world - going forward.
How could it? The memories of five Premier League championships still ring across the grounds and in 2012 Chelsea won the Champions League for the only time in club history. Legends like John Terry and Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, now the Blues’ manager, set the bar high for rising players like midfielder Mason Mount and American wonderkid Christian Pulisic, among others, during a youth movement.
Chelsea won the Premier League by eight points in 2004-05 and 2005-06 under Jose Mourinho and again in 2014-15 during Mourinho's second stint. They needed every single point in 2009-10 when a devastating 8-0 season -finale win over Wigan Athletic secured their third championship in six years. But it was close with Manchester United finishing just one single point behind in the standings.
After an ugly 10th place finish in 2016 that led to Mourinho's second departure, Chelsea returned with another championship in the 2016-17 season, which was Terry's last. In the past 15 seasons of English football, Chelsea and Manchester United lead the way with five championships each. Not a bad way to end a drought of almost a half century.
Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE SOCCER NEWS