Fixture list conjures up positive omens for Chelsea

Posted by Phil Lythell

Jose MourinhoGettyImagesJose Mourinho: A sense of deja vu for the returning Chelsea boss

Fate and football have always seemed to be familiar bedfellows, and the two almost conspired once again to give Chelsea's new manager a sense of deja vu.

Jose Mourinho's first spell in charge of the Blues began with an opening-day fixture against Manchester United in August 2004 when Eidur Gudjohnsen's strike gave the Portuguese a famous 1-0 win and marked the initial step towards Chelsea's first league title for half a century. Nine years on and Chelsea will once again play the Red Devils in August, though this time it will be on the road and in the second fixture of the campaign. Nevertheless, it provides the opportunity to land an early psychological blow to the reigning Premier League champions and their own new boss, David Moyes.

Instead, Chelsea start the 2013-14 campaign with a home match against newly promoted Hull City, another positive omen for the Blues. The teams met as the 2009-10 season kicked off with bete noire Stephen Hunt opening the scoring that day. Fortunately, a Didier Drogba double - including a fortuitous late winner that resulted from a mis-hit cross - ensured that the Londoners got their season off to a good start, one that culminated in Carlo Ancelotti's side claiming their first-ever domestic league and cup double.

Chelsea face a pretty tough opening set of fixtures, with four of their first six away from home, including trips to Old Trafford, Goodison Park and White Hart Lane. That said, the Blues emerged with all three points from each of those fixtures last time around, so perhaps they should not be so daunting after all. It also means that those games are dealt with early rather than left as potential obstacles on the horizon.

Should the Blues emerge from that opening relatively unscathed, it would leave Chelsea with the opportunity to rack up points between October and the middle of December, with Manchester City the only big rival to be faced in that time. With Chelsea having never lost during the Christmas period under Mourinho, there is every chance that there will be real cause for celebration when the new year rolls around.

Four London derbies in March against Fulham, Tottenham, Arsenal and Crystal Palace could provide a few obstacles to progress, though after that just a familiar late-season trip to Anfield stands as a real test in the closing weeks of the campaign. On the two occasions that Liverpool have hosted Chelsea with the clock winding down it has prefaced genuine glory for the visitors. In 2010, Drogba and Frank Lampard both struck in the penultimate fixture to all but confirm that the Premier League trophy would be returning to Stamford Bridge.

Two years later Roberto Di Matteo named an under-strength side to travel to Merseyside days after the same clubs had met in the FA Cup final. Liverpool exacted the tiniest amount of revenge for their Wembley defeat by romping to a 4-1 win. However, within a fortnight Chelsea had experienced their greatest triumph by lifting the European Cup, and immortality was achieved.

Either one of those scenarios would be clearly be more than welcome. Even better would be to see both of them combined into the perfect football campaign. Fanciful? Probably, but where's the fun in watching football if you don't allow yourself to dream?

Follow Phil Lythell on Twitter @PhilLythell

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