Fortress Stamford Bridge: Who Can End Chelsea's Home Record?

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst ISeptember 11, 2008

Sporting statistics are something we can all find interest in. As a football fan, naturally I love football statistics; whether it be records of goals, bookings, injuries, assists, completed passes or any number of obscure criteria.

Recently I have found myself amazed by the sheer magnificence of Chelsea football club, and their amazing home record.

Now don't get me wrong I am no fan of the Blues, far from it. I would sooner wear a coat made of scorpions than wear a Chelsea shirt, but I am a fan of good football. Like it or not Chelsea have managed to continue playing good football for most of the time that they have kept this record going.

It now stands at 83 matches, give or take, and while this is impressive, it is all the more so considering that the record they broke was 63 matches set by Liverpool between 1978 and 1980. Not only did they break it, but they have now surpassed the old record by 20 matches.

It now hangs over the head of every team that makes the trip to Stamford Bridge—not only do they have to beat one of the strongest club sides in the world, they also have to contend with the fact that this team is playing for the added glory of extending the remarkable run of undefeated matches.

In the minds of many it has now become a monster, in that it is basically a given that Chelsea will not give away three points while playing at "The Bridge". Sports betting, football picks, it is not wise to bet on them losing at home because they have not done so since February 21st 2004. Or maybe it is wiser still, for the pay-off that may materialise.

The last time Chelsea lost at home, the Claudio Ranieri coached Blues lost to an Arsenal side that went on to win the league by an impressive ten points—also going undefeated for the entire season.

Following the pain of that day, however, they have remained unbeaten at home and, on most occasions, looked good doing so.

There have of course been close shaves as there always are, as one example, who could forget the game in which Ricardo Carvalho—of all people—gave Chelsea the lead over Middlesbrough, only for the home side to go off the boil and then be saved by the woodwork, not once, not twice, but three times!

This is football. The game people go insane over. I am sure there would have been a few Boro fans admitted to the psychiatric unit after that one.

In the realm of footballing folklore there is the oft-used term "fortress" for a home ground on which a team is virtually unbeatable. Teams that are able to sustain this can sometimes rely on luck, sometimes on skill, but always on heart and hatred of losing.

Even though I have watched Chelsea games praying that someone amongst the opposition would squeeze off some wonder strike from 30 yards to break this run, it has still not happened.

Time and time again they seem to ride their luck, in the manner of a blind man on a rush hour motorway, and still come through with the record intact. This is a testament to the belief that they have gained through the ability to sustain the run.

Once any team sees themselves as able to beat any side that comes to their home ground, you are going to have a tough time convincing them otherwise.

But the real question at this point is this; Can anyone end this charmed run in the coming season? Will it end in the next few months?

Between now and the New Year they will face Man Utd, Villa, Sunderland, Newcastle, Arsenal, West Ham, and West Brom at Stamford Bridge, with their remarkable record on the line.

Surely one of these teams can do it. If they do not then I would not be surprised if they again see the season out with the fortress unscathed by that losing feeling.

I love footballing records, but surely this one must be broken soon. If it is not by the end of the season I can't see it ever happening. Did I just say that? Did I just say that they could be eternally unbeaten?

I am delving into the realm of fantasy here.

But if anyone is conscious when time ends maybe they will be able to look into some god constructed database and say, "Damn, Chelsea didn't lose a game for the rest of time from Feb 2004!".

It would be 87654 A.D. by then. Imagine the glee of the ghostly Blues fans, singing their songs into the nothingness of time.


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