Chelsea FC : A Photographic Memoir of the Year That Was
The previous year was not a good time for Chelsea fans.
It was not one of our more successful years as the Blues ended their previous season with an empty trophy cabinet. The start to their new season under Villas-Boas' regime looked shaky.
Firstly, our biggest acquisition to date, Fernando Torres, had a horrid year at southwest London while captain fantastic, John Terry, was embroiled in a racial controversy.
But there were also many things to cheer about, from the arrival of the sensational Juan Mata to the superb youngster Daniel Sturridge.
In the following few slides, we take a photographic look back into Chelsea's journey in 2011.
Chelsea Spends 75 Million on a Crazy-Haired Brazilian and El Nino
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Chelsea started the year in a spending spree, shelling out a total of £75 million for the services of promising Brazilian and Benfica defender David Luiz (£25 million) and Liverpool's hitman Fernando Torres (£50 million).
The signings were seen as an effort to try and revive their falling season.
While David Luiz has impressed and gone on to earn himself regular first-team spots, his more expensive counterpart has failed to prove his worth even a little, with a handful of dismal performances.
Chelsea Crash out from FA Cup
Chelsea, FA Cup holders for the previous two seasons, hosted Everton at Stamford Bridge in a fourth-round replay.
After regular time failed to bring out a winner, Frank Lampard put Chelsea in the lead by scoring an early goal in extra time. But Chelsea's lead was not enough, as Leighton Baines scored a sensational last-minute equaliser from a free kick.
The ensuing penalty shootouts resulted in Chelsea crashing out of the FA Cup sensationally after losing out 4-3 to the Toffees in penalties, as Nicolas Anelka had his shot blocked and Ashley Cole sent his shot into orbit.
Chelsea Defeat the Red Devils 2-1 and Reignite Title Hopes
When league leaders Manchester United came visiting Stamford Bridge on March 1st, it was one of the biggest matches of the season.
Anything other than a win would see Chelsea's slim title chances evaporate and the Red Devils were the favourites to win the match based on their past performances. As seen earlier, Chelsea responded to their critical condition by inflicting Sir Alex's squad with a 2-1 loss, which rekindled their hopes to retain their English crown.
With Rooney giving the Red Devils a lead, Chelsea equalised through David Luiz and Frank Lampard scored the winner from the spot.
Manchester United Show Chelsea the Champions League Exit
Chelsea arrived at Old Trafford trailing 1-0 from their home loss to the Red Devils. The two English clubs were fighting for a semifinal spot in the UEFA Champions League.
Carlo Ancelotti's decision to field his £50 million acquisition ahead of Chelsea's Ivorian hitman proved decisive as Chelsea lost poorly to the Red Devils.
Chelsea had momentarily seemed to have fought their way back after Didier Drogba (subbed in for the dismal Torres) squared off Javier Hernandez's first-half goal, only to see Park Ji-Sung score again and virtually end Chelsea's dreams.
The 50 Million Striker Scores His First Goal
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Nerves were already cracking over the ability of Chelsea's ill-judged £50 million January signing to live up to his reputation.
Fernando Torres had seemed a distant shade of his previous self since his deadline-day arrival at West London from Merseyside in a move that was severely decried by the Anfield faithfuls. El Nino, whose signing was seen more as a result of Roman Abramovich's liking for the Spaniard than manager Ancelotti's, had looked uncomfortable playing to Chelsea's slow and patient style.
Every possible change was made in the squad or the style of play to accommodate the former Atletico Madrid star and help him find his form. But the patience was growing thinner with Torres' every failure to deliver.
Torres finally ended his nightmarish "734 minutes without a goal" run since his arrival by scoring against a West Ham squad who were preparing for life in the second tier of football.
The joy of the Chelsea players on Torres' debut Chelsea goal portrayed the pressure the whole squad had felt due to the failure of a single player.
Chelsea Lose at Old Trafford to Miss out on the Premier League
Chelsea lost out their best opportunity to reclaim the Premier League crown.
Chelsea came at Old Trafford with the lovely opportunity to leapfrog the league leaders with only two matches left into the season. The three points were the most vital in Chelsea's entire season—a win and Chelsea were favourites to win; a loss and all their chances would end.
Carlo Ancelotti's men delivered an uninspiring performance to not only lose out 2-1 but end their title dreams as well. The match seemed finished well before halftime after early strikes from Javier Hernandez and Nemanja Vidic left the West Londoners trailing 2-0.
Chelsea briefly rekindled their chances after Frank Lampard scored one back late in the second half, but failed to crack open United's tightly-knit defense. The loss rounded off one of Chelsea's worst seasons and also finally ended their Italian manager's tenure at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea Ends Italian Saga
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It had been predicted. After guiding the Blues to a Premier League and FA Cup, double the pressure was on Carlo Ancelotti.
He failed, like his predecessor, to repeat the feats of a certain Jose Mourinho and the poor on-field form of his men did little to help him. After seeing Chelsea lose out in every title competition, it was only a matter of time before Ancelotti's swan song would be sung.
The end of Chelsea's dismal season finally brought the curtains down on the "Italian Job."
Andre Villas-Boas Arrives to Revive the Mourinho Era
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Carlo Ancelotti's premature exit was not well received by the Blues faithful, who had a liking for their smooth-spoken Italian manager. It was argued that the double-winning manager was not given much time nor the discretion to develop the team.
But Ancelotti's sacking meant that Chelsea needed a new man for the most demanding job in modern club football. After weeks of speculation over who would be Chelsea's new manager, Blues owner Roman Abramovich zeroed in on FC Porto's super successful manager Andre Villas-Boas.
The 34-year-old Portuguese tactician was brought to Chelsea for £13.3 million, which made it the biggest deal ever for a manager. The young and dynamic manager was brought in to again usher in the "Jose Mourinho" era, given that he worked at Chelsea under the Special One.
His rise in the world of football management was seen similar to that of Jose Mourinho, which led to expectations similar to that of his fomer tutor.
Chelsea Lose to Manchester United, Resulting in Big Slump II
Chelsea arrived at Old Trafford after a not-so-convincing start to the season and facing the club with the best home record.
The match was seen as a test for a club undergoing transformation and the first real test for new manager Andre Villas-Boas. Chelsea had the worst possible start, conceding three goals in the first half after failing to catch up with a young and energetic performance from the Red Devils.
Though the Blues recovered from their dismal first-half show and even scored back one, they failed to break a disciplined United defense. The loss proved too much for Chelsea, as they eventually failed to pull back and drifted far from the two Manchester clubs in the league.
Their dismal performances led many to attribute it as "Big Slump II", the first one being under Carlo Ancelotti the previous season. Chelsea even fell out of the top four for the first time since Roman took over.
Villas-Boas was imminently facing his last few days at Stamford Bridge, as his imminent sacking was in everyone's mouth. Chelsea even crashed out of the League Cup, after getting comfortably beaten 2-0 by their Merseyside rivals.
Anelka and Alex Hand in Transfer Requests
Reports had already erupted about Villas-Boas banning his aged duo of Alex and Nicolas Anelka from first-team training, as they were not considered part of his plans for the future.
The truth was established when the duo handed in their transfer requests, declaring their desire to leave Stamford Bridge for greener pastures. Chelsea accepted both the requests. Anelka has since left to join Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, while Alex is days away from sealing a move to EPL rivals Queens Park Rangers.
The particular episode also brought forward the change that was occurring at Chelsea.
Drogba Rises to Help Chelsea Keep Their Champions League Hopes Alive
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Chelsea hosted Spanish club Valencia at home in a crucial Champions League match.
Anything other than a win could see them make an early exit from Europe's most coveted competition. They were favourites to win after seeing back-to-back wins against Wolves and Newcastle in the previous weeks, but even the Chelsea fans were fearful of what might happen.
Chelsea's legendary Ivorian rose to the occasion in his trademark style to deliver a brilliant individual performance. The towering striker, whose future has been in doubt following the arrival of Torres and the stalling of contract talks, scored a brace and assisted another to help Chelsea register a 3-0 win and secure a last 16 spot as group winners.
Chelsea Gets Revenge and Hands Manchester City Their First League Defeat
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It was a match of England's two top sides. There was only a slight difference—City was undefeated in the new season and Chelsea were overcoming their worst start to a season in nearly a decade.
The odds were against the Blues—a stark irony—and Mancini's millionaire's boys club was supposed to push aside Chelsea quite easily. But Chelsea delivered a brilliant comeback from being 1-0 down to emerge victorious in a 2-1 win.
The win not only helped Chelsea get back on track, but also helped them avenge their earlier losses as well as deliver City their first league defeat.