The lineup in which Ramires was the only midfield player to survive from the midweek defeat to Napoli, welcomed back Frank Lampard and Michael Essien who received cheers as their names were announced. It is safe to say that for all the debate there has been about the future of these elder stars, they were a welcomed sight as the incompetent Raul Meireles and inept Florent Malouda found the bench.
Generally a win over the 19th-place team in the Premier League would not warrant much discussion by Blues fans, but given the fact it has been so long since we have last seen it happen, this was a good day for the club.
However, it also shows how few and far between wins have been this season.
Through Villas-Boas’ first 39 games in all competitions, he has posted a sub-par record of 20-10-9. For a club that has become a world power over the past decade, this is just not enough.
But it does give me an idea for a good and even-numbered list.
I have gone ahead and tried to rank all 20 wins for the boss in matter of meaning it had for him and security for his job.
Villas-Boas’ first domestic cup tie did not go as well as planned, but a win is a win.
Penalties were needed to separate the two sides as both defenses held stout in a dull 0-0 draw.
Villas-Boas’ third-straight win in the league had full fan support behind the manager.
Daniel Sturridge put away a lovely back-heel goal which ignited the striker to the incredible season he is having in finding the net.
Villas-Boas was forced to rebound quickly after the debacle at Loftus Road with his second Carling Cup match three days later.
Everton is never an easy test, but the lineup that featured mostly a B-team was able to eek out a win in extra time. Daniel Sturridge’s 116th-minute goal was the decisive moment that gave him his first domestic cup win.
Coming off a rout by Arsenal at home and a disappointing tie to Genk, Villas-Boas needed a win to get his team back on track.
Visiting Ewood Park is not an easy task, and Rovers made them work for their victory.
Villas-Boas started his tenure without the Ivoirians in the nerviest of fashions.
A Frank Lampard goal was the only one in the match and needed to see them to the full three points.
It may not have been a pretty win, but it was win nonetheless. At this level of the game and in this league, Villas-Boas needs to know how to come away with a victory even when it doesn’t look bound to happen.
Villas-Boas got off to a rocky start with a draw to open his career against Stoke and a nervy win over West Brom.
Jose Bosingwa’s early laser shot gave them the lead, and Lampard’s late penalty was the winner. If it were not for a miscommunication between Ivanovic and Hilario, it would have been a perfect game for the Blues.
The icing on the cake was a stoppage-time goal by Villas-Boas’ first big purchase, Juan Mata, in his debut, which showed the manager knew what he was doing.
Villas-Boas was starting to feel the hot seat as Wolves came to the Bridge. Back-to-back losses to Liverpool and Leverkusen started to put pressure on the young boss.
But the Blues put in a dominating display as John Terry got the scoring underway only seven minutes in. From there they cruised to victory with Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata adding on.
The win temporarily eased tensions, but soon eyes were all on Villas-Boas as he would lose to Liverpool three days later and the second time in less than 10 days.
Villas-Boas avenged his early-season loss to local rivals in his second FA Cup match.
Not the most convincing of wins, it took a Juan Mata penalty to progress to the next round.
It was also the first time the Chelsea boss was able to overturn an early-season loss by beating the team the next time around.
It was not the best way to end a winless streak, needing a goal in the last minute from Frank Lampard. But it was what was needed for them to snap four-straight games without a win.
A miserable loss to Aston Villa the week before first had Villas-Boas on the hot seat. He was fortunate to have the veteran Lamps there to help tame the flames beneath him.
Everton was Villas-Boas’ first real challenge in the league, and he greeted it nicely.
Daniel Sturridge continued his goal-scoring form as he set the pace for the three-goal day. The win also kept them on pace for the league title.
The only thing that marred an otherwise perfect day was a late goal by an Everton player. But it did not ruin the result, and it set the page for a big win over Genk four days later.
Newcastle were a surprise contender when Chelsea faced them back in early December. However, Villas-Boas was able to dispatch them with ease.
It was a day for the forwards as Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Sturridge all got on the score sheet up north.
It also was important momentum builder as Chelsea headed into a pivotal showdown against Valencia which would decide who won the Champions League group.
Villas-Boas regrouped after the opening day draw against Stoke to earn his first win against West Brom.
The nerves were high on this warm afternoon, as he played his first game in front of the home fans. It was made all the worse when an early Alex blunder gave West Brom the lead.
However, he was seen off with a standing ovation after goals from Nicolas Anelka and Malouda gave them the win.
Yes, once upon a time we all were behind our fearless leader. My, those were the days.
Coming off their embarrassing dismemberment at Napoli, Villas-Boas needed a big win to keep the team optimistic for the upcoming stretch.
Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba got back to playing like the old days as they linked up on a corner, and Lampard finished a Mata cross.
It is hard to believe that Chelsea fans would be ecstatic over a win against Bolton, but it has gotten to that point. Hopefully Villas-Boas will recognize what worked and use it from here on out.
Villas-Boas got his first taste of the oldest trophy in the game with a big win over Championship side Portsmouth.
Chelsea needed this win as they were coming off of a streak that saw them winless in four of their last five. The first FA Cup match was just what they needed as Ramires would score twice late to pad Mata’s early second-half goal.
It was by far not the prettiest of wins, but it showed that the squad had a resilience and determination that’s needed to tough out wins.
Villas-Boas’ best all-around game on the season. Genk may have been the weakest side in the group, but they were not to be underestimated.
It was also a rare moment where we all saw the Fernando Torres we thought was purchased last January. Two goals gave him his first multi-goal game of his Chelsea career.
The rout of the Belgian minnows was the last in a line of big wins over the opposition. It also was important in making sure it secured their progression to the knockout stages.
This win back in early October still stands as their biggest in the league all season.
Villas-Boas, who controversially sat Frank Lampard a few games earlier, was right to bring him back into the stating lineup as the Chelsea legend netted a hat trick.
It also was the start of the Blues' most convincing winning streak all season.
Villas-Boas could not have asked for a better start to his Champions League campaign. On a night were Chelsea honored former Blue Michael Ballack in a pre-game ceremony, the team played like it did when the German was a member.
David Luiz had one of his wonder moments that let us temporarily forgive his stupidity, and Juan Mata secured the game with a late strike.
It turned out to be an important win as Chelsea struggled to get through the group, but ultimately Villas-Boas’ decisions in playing Luiz over Alex and the purchase of Mata were the difference.
The “flair” was in full form for the first time as Villas-Boas recorded a resounding win over Swansea.
The result was important, given the fact that Chelsea had suffered their first defeat of the season less than a week earlier to Manchester United.
Other than that, it also was the first time fans got a glimpse of the kind of attacking style we were promised when Villas-Boas arrived. It also was Fernando Torres’ second-straight league game with a goal and teased us that perhaps a rebirth was imminent.
How naïve we can be.
To this point in the season Villas-Boas had been successful but only against lesser sides. Big wins over Swansea, Genk and Valencia had proven that he has a talented side. However, losses to English rivals Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal left the fan base unamused.
Aided by a debatable red card for City defender Gael Clichy, Chelsea took advantage of being a man up and gave Villas-Boas his first notable win in the Premier League and handed the Citizens their first league loss of the season.
Since then, Villas-Boas has not been able to replicate this domestic success. Repeat losses to Liverpool and United had fans quickly forgetting about the City win.
When Chelsea drew a group with Leverkusen, Genk and Valencia, they were not exactly stressing over how they would advance to the knockout rounds. All three opponents were of quality, but none were at the same level as Chelsea, especially after they took Valencia’s best player Juan Mata.
However, when it came down to the last day of group play, Chelsea needed a win over Valencia to avoid an embarrassing upset and early exit from Europe.
Spearheaded by Drogba, the Blues fired three past the Spanish side in arguably their best game of the entire season.
Villas-Boas was brought in to win a European title. While it is still a long shot this season, if Villas-Boas had been unable to even have the chance come 2012, odds are he would not be the manager today.
This is, of course, a subjective list based on nothing more than my own opinion. I did try to weigh them out in terms the matches that came before and after and how they impacted the way we see the club now. Of course, this too is subjective.
So how would you rate the wins? Is my list more or less accurate? Is there a major flaw in how I ranked them?
Please let me know your thoughts, as they are as good as mine!
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