Chelsea season review – Europa League claimed by Benitez in turbulent year

Chelsea – Third

FA Cup – Semi-final

League Cup – Semi-final

Champions League – Group stage

Europa League – Winners

Chelsea’s 2012/2013 campaign was full of ups and downs. Their big new signing Eden Hazard started the season brightly, assisting many Chelsea goals in the opening few rounds of the Premier League. Fernando Torres found himself on the scoring sheet a couple of times, and new signing Victor Moses proved important during squad rotations.

Chelsea had the chance to win many trophies throughout this campaign, but fell short in the Super Cup, losing 4-1 to a Radamel Falcao-inspired Atletico Madrid, and losing 1-0 to Brazilian side Corinthians in the Club World Cup final.

Coming off the back of winning the Champions League, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stage the following year. This resulted in the immediate dismissal of manager Roberto Di Matteo, a fan favorite of the Chelsea faithful. Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was given the task to take control of the Chelsea team, much to the uproar of many Chelsea fans.

Chelsea’s league form was highly inconsistent, and they dropped easy points that ultimately cost them a chance at claiming the Premier League title. But they were good enough to keep themselves in pole position for qualifying in one of the four Champions League places.

Benitez gave Torres a lot of playing time, which resulted in the Spaniard finding some form. He ended the season with more than 20 goals, his best effort in a blue jersey to date.

In the January transfer window, Demba Ba signed from Newcastle, and scored a couple of important goals towards the back end of the campaign, most notably against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final replay.

Chelsea had two players shortlisted for the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) Player of the Year award in Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. Although both players missed out on the award, they were named in the PFA Team of the Year. These two creative midfielders played vital roles in Chelsea’s season, and were the biggest threat Chelsea had when going forward this season.

Chelsea battled through some tough fixtures and managed to come out on top in most of them. They were playing three games a week, so the squad rotation policy was vital in their success. One of their biggest results was a 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The battle between Chelsea, Arsenal, and Spurs for the remaining two Champions League places was intense, and Chelsea needed to win every game to ensure their qualification, including against the eventual champions. Juan Mata proved to be Chelsea’s hero, with an incredible display capped by shooting the ball into Phil Jones’ leg, resulting in the ball being deflected in.

Chelsea’s next challenge came in the Europa League final, where they earned a hard-fought victory courtesy of goals through Torres’ brilliant solo counter-attack, and Branislav Ivanovic’s 93rd minute header either side of Oscar Cardozo’s penalty.

Benitez is no longer manager and it is believed that Jose Mourinho will be taking over for his second stint with the Blues. The hope is that he can bring greater consistency and more success to the club.

Manager – Rafael Benitez: Benitez succeeded Di Matteo in November and was able to pick Chelsea up from their lowest point, and achieved solid results to end the campaign in comfortable fashion, winning the Europa League final and getting a Champions League place by finishing third in the league.

Player of the Season – Juan Mata: Mata wins it just ahead of Hazard, who also had a mostly superb season. Mata proved to be Chelsea’s best player with some great goals, many assists, and consistent performances. He was Chelsea’s main attacking threat, and a great partnership with Torres led to some terrific football being played.

Turning Point – Benitez takes over: A huge turning point in Chelsea’s season was when Benitez was put in charge. He had to deal with criticism and negative publicity while overseeing with the performance of his new side. He achieved great success considering the situation he faced after replacing the popular Di Matteo.

Any other business: Frank Lampard ended the season not only as Chelsea’s top Premier League scorer, but became the club’s all-time record goal-getter, surpassing Bobby Tambling’s 202 with a brace against Aston Villa. He was finally rewarded with the contract extension his goals deserved – and the fans were demanding.

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