50 Years of Chelsea: 2002-2003 Pt 2
Stamford Chidge is joined by Jonathan Kydd and Mark Meehan to look back at the 2002-03 season.
In part two we pick the season up in January. We lose to Arsenal away, again, 3-2 thanks to two goals in two minutes even though we get two back two minutes later. Chelsea beat Charlton 4-1 at home on what looks like a sandpit. We play like Brazil; Charlton lodge a complaint about the pitch.
While our league form is good and keeps us in the top four, all eyes are on FA Cup success. After dispatching Middlesbrough, Shrewsbury and Stoke City, we face our bogey team Arsenal in the quarter-final. We draw 2-2 at Highbury having outplayed Arsenal for much of the match which means a replay at Stamford Bridge. Surely this time we can lay the bogey to rest? Sadly not as Chelsea lose 3-1 on an awful awful night including an own goal by John Terry, now sharing the captain's duties with Marcel Desailly.
Still hopes are high for a top four finish and Champions' League qualification whilst the title challenge slipped away. A wobble with defeats away to Villa (battling relegation) and West Ham (who get relegated) means it all boils down to the last match of the season at home to Liverpool.
In one of the most important matches in Chelsea's history, a place in the top four is at stake with the winner taking all. Liverpool go ahead on 11 minutes with Desailly equalising 3 minutes later. Gronkjaer is the unlikely hero with a shot bent in to the right hand corner thanks to him slipping as he kicked it. Chelsea hang on to win and Zola comes on for a cameo for what would be his last appearance for Chelsea and gives Carragher twisted blood for old times sake.
What we didn't know at the time was that had Chelsea lost, the club may well have gone in to administration having announced debts of £99 million and a loss of £16.4 million. Not only did Chelsea's victory guarentee lucrative Champions' League football, it paved the way a few weeks later for the arrival of Roman Abramovich and things at Chelsea would never be the same again...