With football on hiatus and We Ain’t Got No History slowing approaching our tenth (10th!) birthday, I figured it might be as good a time as any to start looking back on some of our recent Chelsea memories.
Here are a few that stood out from March 18 (timezones may change that a bit, but I’m trying to keep it within the European & North American frame; sorry, rest of the world).
Hot on the heels of the move for Lucas Piazon, Chelsea were getting linked with another, and this time much more widely known young talent from Brazil, Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima, a.k.a. Ganso (literally, “goose”). Ganso was the second part of Santos’ Neymar-Ganso double-act, with a price tag rumored around €10m, which wasn’t nothing back then especially for a 21-year-old. Goose was the less loud, less flashy half to Neymar’s Maverick, but still Zidane-esque in his technique and quality and even his size and strength — a comparison often made at the time.
But unlike for Neymar, who’d leave Santos in 2013 to eventually become the world’s most expensive player, it never quite happened for Ganso. The Chelsea links never materialized into anything concrete. He got deeply embroiled in third-party ownership controversies back in Brazil, then spent four years at São Paulo FC before finally making the jump to Europe in 2016. Despite being older (the worry is often that they come over too young), he had little impact at Sevilla and spent some time on loan Amiens SC, even, before returning to Brazil last year to play for Fluminense. He turned 30 in October; his last international appearance was in 2012.
Four days after one of the greatest European nights at Stamford Bridge, the 4-1 win over Napoli, and just two months before one of the greatest nights in Chelsea history, the 2012 Champions League final, Roberto Di Matteo made it four wins from four as interim manager, advancing to the semifinals of the FA Cup with a 5-2 win over Leicester City.
Gary Cahill scored his first Chelsea goal in this one (paying tribute in the celebration to Bolton teammate Fabrice Muamba, whose heart had stopped beating for 78 minutes the day before). Even Fernando Torres played really well and broke a ... wait for it ... 24-game, 24-hour scoreless streak! Yes, 24 hours, over 1400 minutes worth of football in all competitions without a goal, from October to March: Torres! Then he scored a second, because London buses. Salomon Kalou and Raúl Meireles rounded out the scoring for the Blues.
Chelsea would go on to win the FA Cup that season as well in what was, I daresay, the most amazing 3-month stretch in any Chelsea season ever.
Didier Drogba came back to Stamford Bridge for the first and only time wearing another team’s shirt, but Chelsea prevailed 2-0 over Galatasaray to advance to the 2013-14 Champions League quarterfinals — that’s the one with the Demba Ba winning goal against PSG.
Samuel Eto’o and Gary Cahill scored for José Mourinho’s Blues. That’s two March 18 goals for EBGC, if you’re counting. And here comes a third...
Conte is an absolute madman. I love it. pic.twitter.com/hJ7ZazNA4p— Priya Ramesh (@Priya8Ramesh) March 18, 2017
The 2016-17 was remarkable and memorable for many, many reasons, including for this non-rainy night in Stoke in mid-March, when Gary Cahill, for the third March 18 in six seasons, scored a goal. This time it was the late-late winner in a 2-1 game that put Chelsea within reach of the title, had Conte doing pull-ups on the dugout, and led to this most-amazing celebration in front of the traveling support.
What a season! What a team!
I miss football.
Another dramatic 2-1, this time in extra-time, but once again against Leicester City in the FA Cup, just like six years prior. And just like in 2012, Chelsea would go on to beat Spurs in the semifinal (5-1 in 2012, 3-1 in 2018), then win a closely contested final against big-time opposition (2-1 against Liverpool in 2012, 1-0 against Manchester United in 2018).
No, Gary Cahill did not score in this one. But Álvaro Morata did. Didn’t see that everyday! As did Pedro, with his head, even! Don’t see that everyday either.