The 2020-2021 season was the successor to a campaign hindered by COVID-19, which was played in atypical style the year before. Saying that, the previous year of football has been far from the ordinary itself, with sports still going ahead despite the current hold that the pandemic has had on the nation.
In what may seem like the new ‘normal’, the vast majority of the season was played behind closed doors – which caused for all different types of changes to the game that we all know and love.
The season dates were altered, home advantage was eradicated, but one thing remained the same – the dominance of English football.
This post looks to break down the previous season through monthly categories, which aims to tell the story of the Chelsea’s historical campaign.
Heading into the new season, Frank Lampard was continuing with his long-term project at the club after a successful first season with Chelsea. The former England midfielder had secured a top four finish in the 2019/20 season – leaving the Blues with another season of Champions League football to look forward to.
After coming off the back of a transfer ban, Chelsea made a catalogue of high-profile signings in the summer. After spending over £200 million in recruitments, the Blues brought in stars such as Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz to bolster their existing squad. Having lost Eden Hazard in the previous summer, the Blues were looking to replace the Belgian star who provided a cutting-edge in previous years.
In addition to their spending, Frank Lampard also didn’t hold back on selling some of his players. Chelsea racked in over £50 million in income, with the likes of Álvaro Morata, Mario Pašalić, Willian and Pedro all departing the club.
The season kicked off for the Blues on September 14th at the Ammex Stadium, with Lampard’s side picking up all three points against Brighton through goals from Jorginho, Reece James and Kurt Zouma.
Despite their impressive start, Chelsea later lost their second game against the champions, Liverpool.
Jürgen Klopp’s side picked up a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge through two quickfire goals from Sadio Mané. Chelsea also had 10 men for half of the game, as Andreas Christensen saw red just before the half-time whistle.
The Blues responded with a 6-0 victory over Barnsley in the EFL Cup, and also completed their final signing – goalkeeper Édouard Mendy.
Despite securing the Senegalese goalkeeper’s signature, the Blues ended the month on a sour note – completing a comeback against Premier League new boys West Brom to earn a point in a 3-3 thriller at The Hawthorns.
Chelsea played their final game against Spurs in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, crashing out of the competition following a 5-4 defeat on penalties.
As the Blues marched on into October, Lampard’s side began to gather a slight bit of form. Chelsea went unbeaten against Crystal Palace, Southampton, Manchester United and Burnley in the league –failing to concede a goal in the process.
Additionally, the Blues also picked up two valuable clean sheets in their Champions League games. Chelsea first earned a strong point in a goalless draw with Seville, before hitting Krasnodar for four in Russia.
Against the Champions League debutants, the Blues had four different scorers as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all found the back of the net.
Chelsea continued their good form into November, a month where they have often struggled and dropped points in the past.
Lampard’s side also played Rennes twice in the Champions League, powering past Édouard Mendy’s former side in 3-0 and 2-1 victories. It seemed as if things were finally starting to click for Chelsea, who finished the month in third place.
Additionally, the Blues began the month of December in scorching-hot form.
Chelsea opened up with a 4-0 win against Seville, with Olivier Giroud scoring all four goals. The victory ensured that the London club would finish the group in top spot, which took the pressure off in their final game against Krasondar – which finished 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.
(credit | BT Sport).
Despite beating Leeds in their first league match of the month, Lampard’s side suddenly hit a brick wall – losing back-to-back games against Everton and Wolves. The Blues did however respond with a 3-0 victory against West Ham, but later closed the month with a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates and a home draw with Aston Villa.
Heading into the New Year – Chelsea were now suddenly 6th.
After enduring a tough December, January was even worse for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
The Blues opened up the new year with a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, who were all over Chelsea from the get-go. However, the London club once again responded with back-to-back wins – beating Morecambe 4-0 in the FA Cup and picking up all three points at Craven Cottage in the league.
Regardless of the results, Chelsea’s form failed to blossom and remained inconsistent.
On January 19th, the Blues tasted yet another defeat – this time to Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester. Chelsea was now down into 9th for the third consecutive game, with the club in serious trouble. The pressure was now well and truly on Frank Lampard, with questions being asked about the Chelsea boss’ future.
Immediately, it seemed as if Chelsea had their next manager all ready and lined up. On January 26th, former Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel was appointed as the Blues boss on an 18-month contract.
Thomas Tuchel took charge of Chelsea’s game the following day, playing out a 0-0 draw with Wolves and Stamford Bridge.
In just one day, Chelsea already looked a different side – but far from the finished article.
Tuchel switched the formation into a 5-back, with winger Callum Hudson-Odoi starting at right wing-back. The Blues looked much more defensively secure, which was something that they had been lacking all season.
Chelsea then closed the month in a 2-0 home win against Burnley, with Spaniard’s César Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso scoring the goals.
Following an eventful January, it was now a new month and a fresh start under a new manager.
One thing that Roman Abramovich would have been hoping to seek from Tuchel’s appointment was an improvement from their summer signings.
Despite Mendy, Silva and Chilwell’s early success’, the likes of Ziyech, Havertz and Werner were still struggling to adapt to the Premier League. Both Ziyech and Havertz often looked lost at times, with Werner missing a catalogue of chances that was growing by the game.
Tuchel’s third game in charge was a trip to North London, as Chelsea faced José Mourinho’s Spurs in a bid to regain their momentum and form. Impressively, the Blues left with all three points and a clean sheet – thanks to Jorginho’s only goal of the game.
(credit | BT Sport).
Additionally, Chelsea also played the first leg of their Champions League tie with Atlético Madrid in the process – with the midweek game being sandwiched in-between the Southampton and Manchester United clashes.
The game took place in Bucharest, with Chelsea scoring a valuable ‘away goal’ against the Spanish league leaders in a 1-0 victory. Olivier Giroud was the scorer on the evening, as he continued his scoring streak in Spain.
Looking to build on their new-found form under Tuchel, Chelsea opened up March with a 1-0 victory at Anfield. Chelsea powered past the Champions through an all-important goal from Mason Mount.
The Blues went on to beat fellow Merseysiders Everton at Stamford Bridge four days later. On March 13th, the London club played their final Premier League game of the month – which resulted in a 0-0 draw at Elland Road.
Outside of the league, the Blues also booked their place at Wembley, overcoming Sheffield United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Chelsea also marched on in Europe as they beat Atlético Madrid 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel’s side didn’t concede a goal within the entire month.
Despite his impressive beginning to life in England, the German tasted his first defeat on his opening game of April.
Chelsea was beaten 5-2 by relegation candidates West Brom at Stamford Bridge, with Thiago Silva being awarded a red card on the 29th minute.
(credit | BT Sport).
However, the London club responded brilliantly, dismantling Crystal Palace 4-1 at Selhurst Park a week later. In between those games, Chelsea played Porto in the first leg of their quarter-final European clash. Both legs were played in Seville, with the Blues winning the first leg 2-0 thanks to goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell.
The second leg was played just three days after the Crystal Palace game.
Disappointingly, the Blues lost 1-0 in Spain as Mehdi Taremi converted a brilliant overhead-kick in the dying stages. However, with an aggregate score of 2-1, Tuchel’s side won the tie and were ready to advance to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Four days later, Chelsea took on Manchester City at Wembley in the FA Cup – with their eyes set on a potential FA Cup final against either Southampton or Leicester.
Despite entering the fixture as underdogs, Tuchel’s side shocked the league leaders by winning the game 1-0 at Wembley, with Hakim Ziyech’s second half conversion being enough to hold off Pep Guardiola’s side.
The following day, the football world was rocked by the sudden announcement of a European Super League – which was set to include a small number of the planet’s most elite and rich clubs.
The proposition would mean that football clubs could be banned from European competitions and their domestic leagues. Consequently, fans from all around the country protested both online and outside their stadiums – which also took place at Stamford Bridge.
Just days later, all of the English clubs withdrew from the competition. Chelsea played their final league games of the month on April 20th and April 24th – drawing 0-0 with Brighton and beating West Ham 1-0 at the London Stadium.
Just three days after their victory against the Hammers, Chelsea played the first leg of their European tie with Real Madrid. Tuchel’s side took an early lead in Madrid, yet were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw following an equaliser from Karim Benzema.
Heading into the final stretch of games, Chelsea still had a whole lot to play for.
In addition to competing for a top four finish in the Premier League, the Blues were also still in the running for the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea kicked off the month with a 2-0 victory against Fulham, with club record signing Kai Havertz on target for both goals. This allowed the Blues to carry momentum into their midweek clash with Real Madrid – in which they won 2-0 to set up a Champions League final with Manchester City at the end of the month.
In their next league game, Chelsea ironically beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad – with Marcos Alonso converting a late goal to secure three important points.
Four days later, Chelsea’s top four hopes received a setback following a 1-0 defeat at home to midtable Arsenal. By this point, the games were coming thick and fast for Tuchel’s side – who had an FA Cup final next in line against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester.
Despite their earlier form, the Blues lost the final 1-0 following a lacklustre performance at Wembley. There was suddenly a potential that Chelsea’s season could take a turn for the worse with a difficult ending sharply approaching.
Just three days after the final, Tuchel’s side inflicted revenge on their FA Cup final opponents following an encouraging 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.
In Chelsea’s final game of the season, the Blue’s lost 2-1 at Villa Park with skipper César Azpilicueta receiving a late red card against the Villans. Although the game didn’t go as they planned, Spurs’ victory against Leicester allowed for the Blues to keep their place in the top four of the Premier League.
With Champions League football now secured for next season, there was still one final hurdle for the London club. Tuchel’s side travelled to Porto on May 29th, taking on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the club’s third ever Champions League final.
After losing last year’s final with Paris Saint-Germain, Thomas Tuchel had a point to prove.
On the day, it was his side that did him proud by bringing the Champions League back to South-West London. Kai Havertz scored the only goal of the day, rounding Ederson to bury one of the most iconic goals in the history of Chelsea Football Club.
(credit | BT Sport).
Chelsea’s season was saturated with a catalogue twists and turns, but ultimately it led to them being crowned European champions.
With Euro 2020 currently underway, a whole host of Chelsea’s players will be looking to add to this year’s silverware by adding a European honour to their ever-growing resume.
When the competition ends on July 11th, the Blues’ will have a month to regather and prepare for the 2021/22 season. On August 11th, the Blues will take on Villareal in Belfast for the UEFA Super Cup final.
(credit | Chelsea Football Club).
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).