Premier League

Pride and Heartbreak: The Story of Chelsea’s 2022 (Part 2)

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Part 1 ended after our heartbreaking loss to Real Madrid. Now I will continue to go through the rest of the season of Chelsea FC.

The Aftermath

After a 2-0 over Crystal Palace with goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount. It was a heavily rotated team in a loss to Arsenal but were still five points clear of fifth with a game in hand. Then a win over a West Ham team resting all their players before a huge Europa League semifinal. Seven points from the top four. The win over West Ham was soured by the fact that news broke that Antonio Rudiger was leaving for Real Madrid. That Thursday a draw against Man United followed with Ronaldo cancelling out Alonso’s opener. This is when I fully realized that the team had checked out for the season. Then a shocking loss at Everton followed that made me worry about actually finishing outside the top four for the first time all season. This combined with wins for Arsenal and Tottenham meant there were just three points between us and Arsenal and more importantly just five points clear of fifth place Tottenham and no games in hand on either team.

Then the scariest news of all came. There were rumours our club would go bust because Roman was looking for his loan repaid but the government would not allow him to get it because of the sanctions. Later it was revealed that this wasn’t actually the case but actually the loan could not be written off because that would be considered doing business in the UK. That was a major relief and it was confirmed by an Abramovich statement that nothing had changed in terms of the sale. Even better news followed when it was revealed the sale to Todd Boehly my personal choice to be the new owner (because of his statements and his always elite Dodgers team that he also owns) was close to being completed which would be a huge weight off our shoulders.

Top Four Fears

On the night of Friday, May 6th in the USA it was revealed that Todd Boehly and co. had agreed to a deal for 4.25 billion pounds to buy the club. Even better the Raine Group (who was selling the club) inserted Anti-Glazer clauses that said the new owners could not take money out of the club for ten years. Also, Boehly’s group had to agree that they would spend 1.5 billion on improving the stadium as well as spending on the academy and women’s teams. This was a major relief for me and all other Chelsea fans.

I thought this would galvanize the team and have them put in an outstanding performance and for about 80 minutes it was outstanding. Lukaku got a surprise start and justified it by scoring a brace. It was an easy 2-0 lead after 80 minutes but then, conceded a late goal then in the sixth minute of injury time conceded an equalizer by Connor Coady meant two more points dropped when a win would have put us on the precipice of securing top four. It was nearly made worse when Tottenham who were five points back in fifth entering the day took a lead on quadruple challenging Liverpool but luckily Luis Diaz scored a Liverpool equalizer so the five-point margin remained. Our vastly superior goal difference meant four points were needed to secure the top four but I wasn’t confident as The Blues had taken just 8 of our last 21 possible points in Premier League games. The only things that made me keep faith were that Tottenham and Arsenal still had to play each other and that had mid-table Leicester and already relegated Watford were left. Arsenal also won that Sunday and that meant they were now just one point behind us so that made me nervous.

The problem was our next game was against a Leeds team fighting for their lives just two points clear of the drop zone with Anthony Taylor (the ref that gave two unjust red cards to cost us two FA Cup Finals the first of which would have completed the double) as the ref. I was NERVOUS entering the game, especially since Antonio Rudiger was now confirmed to be going to Real Madrid next season and he was already playing with less than his usual intensity and I was afraid it would be even worse now. However, The Blues came to play that day! Mount scored after just four minutes and then Anthony Taylor did what I NEVER thought he would, he sent off a player playing against us. Dan James did a horror tackle on Kovacic and Taylor sent him off. Taking advantage of being a man up and Pulisic and Lukaku scored in the second half to give us an easy 3–0 win to put us just one point from the top four.

Tottenham were hosting Arsenal in the North London Derby and if Arsenal could win or draw would that would secure the top four for us.

FA Cup Final

But first, an FA Cup Final again vs Liverpool and I was not confident whatsoever despite the huge win over Leeds. This was because Liverpool were favourites (and going for the quadruple) as well as the fact that Chelsea had lost the last two FA Cup Finals. It got even worse when the lineups were revealed and Kai Havertz the goal scorer in our Champions League Final win was not in the squad due to a hamstring injury. The game was a back-and-forth affair, but no one scored in 120 minutes, and no goals were ruled out like in the Carabao Cup Final. Liverpool had the edge for the first 20 minutes. After Mo Salah went off injured for Liverpool, Chelsea had the edge for the rest of the half except none of our players especially Christian Pulisic could hit the target. Liverpool had the edge for the first few minutes of the second half even hitting the post twice. The rest of the match was strangely even and off to penalties again. Through four rounds of penalties, Liverpool was ahead 4–3 as Azpilicueta missed for us. Jorginho hit his pen but it felt over as Mane stepped up for the win but he MISSED and that felt like a new life for us. Ziyech scored to put us up 5–4 and needed one Diogo Jota miss from winning the cup, but he made it. Then Mason Mount missed his penalty and Liverpool had a kick to win. Tsimikas made his kick and I once again had this strange feeling of pride for the team for hanging in and getting to penalties but heartbroken at ANOTHER Wembley final loss our fifth in a row and their third straight FA Cup Final loss. I was SO frustrated at this loss that I even tweeted that I NEVER wanted to make another domestic cup final again. I didn’t really mean that but it accurately captured how I felt.

The End of the Season

The good news happened Monday when Arsenal lost 2–0 to Newcastle which secured us top four with two games remaining. This was a massive relief as now there was no stress on our last two games. BTW the banter against Arsenal was hilarious, especially since they were saying they would pass us for third and making Champions League comps like they were certain to qualify despite not qualifying for the previous five seasons. 

One more point was needed to secure third (and being the top club in London this season) and two games against Leicester and Watford to do it. The issue was that they were both at home and Stamford Bridge was not a fortress (a long way from 86 unbeaten at the Bridge). Chelsea was second best in away games but just eighth best in home games

That Thursday (May 19th) was the tenth anniversary of our first Champions League title and Chelsea had a documentary come out with one of the heroes of the night (and current Chelsea Technical Director) Petr Cech and currently player (and assist provider for the 2021 UCL Final winning goal) Mason Mount about that night. Back to the game itself where a point was needed to secure third. A 1-1 draw did the job but the bigger story was at Goodison where our Champions League-winning captain Frank Lampard had the second best May 19th of his life when his Everton team came back from 2–0 down to secure survival and a 69th consecutive top-flight season for The Toffees.

A win over already relegated Watford on the last day allowed us to finish with 74 points which were our highest point total in five years. This was a pretty good season for us considering all the players, fans, and staff went through on and off the pitch. Also, Man City came back from 2–0 down to beat Aston Villa to win the league title and end Liverpool’s quadruple hopes which was a MASSIVE relief especially since they beat us in two cup finals. Then two days later the news that wrapped up our season was confirmed when the UK Government approved the sale and Chelsea was safe from any further danger.

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