Heading into Tuesday's match, the common wisdom was that Chelsea's best chance of pulling off the comeback and advancing into the semifinals of the Champions League was to keep a clean sheet. Against a high-powered offense like Paris Saint-Germain - even without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they possess a dazzling array of fun attackers - many felt that would be a tough task. Fortunately for Chelsea, Fortress Stamford Bridge once again stood strong and unwavering.
The 2-0 scoreline not only completed another historic comeback, but it was the ninth straight clean sheet that Chelsea have kept at Stamford Bridge. NINE. The last time Petr Cech had to pick the ball out the back of his own net was when Javier Hernandez scored a consolation goal for Manchester United all the way back in January. That is still the only goal Chelsea have conceded at home in all of 2014. Starting with the FA Cup win over Stoke City, Chelsea's net has been a firm goal-exclusion zone.
- Jan.26: Stoke City, FA Cup: 1-0
- Jan.29: West Ham United, Premier League: 0-0
- Feb.8: Newcastle United, Premier League: 3-0
- Feb.22: Everton, Premier League: 1-0
- Mar.8: Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League: 4-0
- Mar.18: Galatasaray, Champions League: 2-0
- Mar.22: Arsenal, Premier League: 6-0
- Apr.5: Stoke City, Premier League: 3-0
- Apr.8: Paris Saint-Germain, Champions League: 2-0
This is only the third time in the club's history that we've kept clean sheets in nine or more consecutive home matches. The record is ten, held jointly by the 1927 (Division 2) and 2009 (Premier League) sides*. Only the 2009 streak was accomplished within the confines of one league season. Carlo Ancelotti's double-winning side is more known for establishing the Premier League goalscoring record, but in 10 of the season's first 11 matches (in all competitions), they kept a clean sheet. Hilariously enough, the streak was ended by Apoel Nicosia of all teams. With Chelsea assured of top spot in the Champions League group stage, veteran Marcin Żewlakow's sixth minute goal in a meaningless 2-2 tie succeeded where others had failed for over 900 minutes.
* Historical results courtesy of the excellent TheChels.
It is not a coincidence that Nemanja Matic's first start coincides with the start of the current streak. BEASTMODE has only solidified what was already a formidable back four of Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, and Ivanovic. And of course Petr Cech, who has had a few wobbly moments lately, but has made his fair share of crucial saves including a couple just last night. The six of them will have a chance to make it ten in a row in just over ten days when Sunderland come to town. Certainly doable. A potential record eleventh in a row would have to come against one of the best teams in Europe however, in the Champions League semifinals. But with Fortress Stamford Bridge in full effect nowadays, you wouldn't want to bet against that possibility.
Now we just need to work on keeping things more together away from home, where Chelsea have conceded at least one in each of the seven matches since that tremendous 1-0 shock delivered to Manchester City.