Having been likened to a ‘little horse’ by manager Jose Mourinho last season, Chelsea proved to be thoroughbreds in 2014-15 as they cantered to the Premier League title.
Close-season acquisitions Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa were particularly influential in the first half of the campaign and Mourinho’s men demonstrated resilience thereafter to remain clear of the chasing pack.
Chelsea also won the League Cup with victory over Tottenham at Wembley, but a UEFA Champions League last-16 exit to Paris Saint-Germain brought disappointment, along with a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of League One Bradford City.
Here we take a look at the key moments of Chelsea’s campaign.
Having frequently bemoaned the quality of the strikers at his disposal in his first season back at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho made Diego Costa his primary target ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, telling Marca: “Costa is a player I want in my team.”
A deal was duly agreed with Atletico Madrid for the Spain international and Chelsea were also strengthened significantly by the return of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from a loan at Atleti and Cesc Fabregas’ arrival from Barcelona.
NEW FACES HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
Costa, Fabregas and Courtois wasted little time in making an impression as Chelsea won 10 of their first 12 games to open up an early lead at the top of the table. Costa scored seven goals in his first four Premier League appearances, prompting Mourinho to say: “Chelsea did well by waiting for the right one.”
The Portuguese added: “The team was built in a way where we were waiting for a certain type of striker and I think now everybody knows that Chelsea did the right thing by waiting for him and not going to the market in the summer of 2013 or January 2014 just to by a striker.”
MOURINHO FUMES AT ‘CAMPAIGN’ AGAINST CHELSEA
By the end of 2014, reigning champions Manchester City were closing in on Chelsea and an unhappy Mourinho felt his side were being unfairly treated.
When Cesc Fabregas was denied what appeared to be a clear penalty in a 1-1 draw at Southampton, with referee Anthony Taylor choosing to book the midfielder for diving, Mourinho said: “I think it’s clearly the result of something that looks like a campaign.”
Mourinho was subsequently charged by the Football Association and fined £25,000 for bringing the game into disrepute.
FURTHER CONTROVERSY MARS PROGRESS
Towards the end of February, Chelsea were firmly on course for Premier League glory and through to the final of the League Cup, but Mourinho – who had seen his side suffer a shock FA Cup loss to Bradford City – still had cause for complaint.
Following a challenge from Burnley’s Ashley Barnes on Nemanja Matic, which provoked a reaction that led to the Serbian being dismissed, Mourinho appeared on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday programme to make his frustration clear.
“The reality is that week after week we’re having these decisions [against us],” he said.
“Football is football, but I think it is too much … my players are not getting the respect they deserve.”
Commenting on Chelsea’s five-point lead in the Premier League at that time, Mourinho added: “If we are in a normal situation, in this moment it would not be five, it would be 12.”
LEAGUE CUP GLORY LIGHTENS MOURINHO’S MOOD
Chelsea’s manager had more to smile about after seeing his club beat Tottenham 2-0 to win the League Cup final on March 1.
Goals from John Terry and Diego Costa sealed the first trophy of Mourinho’s second spell at the club.
“It is beautiful to win again,” said Mourinho. “We controlled the game really well. We played how we should play a final.”
PSG END HOPES OF EUROPEAN SUCCESS
Chelsea’s hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League for the second time in four seasons came to an end later in March, when 10-man Paris Saint-Germain earned a 2-2 draw after extra time at Stamford Bridge to progress on the away goals rule.
“Collectively they were better than us and I don’t have much to say,” Mourinho said after the game.
“We need to react. We have the Premier League to win. It’s not a time to cry.”
LEAGUE GLORY SECURED … AND DROGBA DEPARTS
Ultimately, there was no stopping Chelsea in the Premier League as they wrapped up the title with three matches to spare, courtesy of a 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace.
Ahead of the club’s final match of the season, against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, veteran striker Didier Drogba announced he was to bring his second spell at Chelsea to an end.
The 37-year-old was chaired off the field by his team-mates as he came off in the first half of a 3-1 victory against Sunderland, which saw Chelsea finish eight points clear of Manchester City.
With the season at an end, a satisfied Mourinho said: “We are a complete team and that is why we are champions.”
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