The defending champions have certainly struggled this season. After winning the EPL last season, Chelsea F.C. have barely defended their title, securing just eight points from their first seven games, good enough for 14th place in the table, just four points off the relegation zone.
While the Blues will likely regain at least mid-table form in the coming weeks, it’s hard for Chelsea fans to remain optimistic about their form this season. Coincidentally, last time Chelsea fans felt this dismal, they ended up winning their greatest trophy of all.
Let’s flashback to the 2011-12 Premier League season, when Chelsea seemed to be in the race for a top-four spot heading into the last few months of the season. However, after losing five of their last 13 games, securing just 18 points from those contests, the Blues found themselves on the outside looking in, as they finished in sixth, while London rivals Spurs and Arsenal secured places in the Champions League. While the disappointment was palpable for the Chelsea faithful, a stroke of luck would propel the team to the greatest victory in club history.
The luck began in April when Chelsea took on a very tough Tottenham Hotspur squad in the semifinals of the FA Cup. Chelsea lit the Spurs up for five goals in that game, and would become unbeatable in cup games for the rest of the season. They went on to beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final, but the most meaningful wins came in the Champions League.
After that draw with Spurs, Chelsea would go on to play Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Against Barcelona at home, Chelsea won 1-0, but it was at Camp Nou that Fernando Torres cemented his legacy with the Blues when he scored a breakaway in stoppage time to send the Blues through 3-2 on aggregate.
However in the final against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, no one gave Chelsea a chance. Luckily for Chelsea fans, Didier Drogba was there to save the day. In what was presumed as his last game with the club, Drogba scored a penalty in stoppage time to send the game to PKs, then scored the winning penalty to secure Chelsea their first Champions League. The underdog story had been completed.
While it seems a bit premature to crown this Chelsea team Champions League favorites this early in the competition, their recent struggles have given them an underdog status reminiscent of that 2011 team. Through just seven games, one of them a win against Arsenal, Chelsea have been written off by many Premier League fan bases, as well as those of many top class European teams. While it’s easy to see why opposing fans feel that way, a quick examination of 2011 reveals the fate of those who underestimate the west London side.
Chelsea have lacked defensively this season, and in their comeback attempts, they have had some unlucky bounces off crossbars, posts, or simply out of bounds. Despite all of their bad breaks, it’s clear that this Chelsea team does not give up. Despite being down late against Porto in a hostile environment, the Blues fought tirelessly to try to secure a draw, a quality that will be key to their cup winning dreams this season.
While they demonstrated it against Porto, the determination Chelsea displayed on Tuesday night will be key against the bigger sides across Europe, especially away from home. Just remember Chelsea fans, whenever you get down on the poor form of the team, just remember 2011, and crack a smile, remembering that in soccer, anything is possible.