In the 2009/10 season, Chelsea managed to pull off the rare feat of winning both the Premier League and FA Cup, an achievement commonly known as the domestic “double”. This remains the only time that the Blues have managed to win the two most prized domestic competitions in the same season. Whilst it has become more common in recent times, the West London outfit are one of only seven English sides to have ever completed it.
What Is the Double & What Are Its Origins in England?
The concept of the double is present throughout world football, and it widely refers to the achievement of winning both a country’s top division and primary cup competition. In English football, the concept of the double originated way back in the first ever season of the First Division, then the top flight, the 1888/89 campaign. Preston North End were the team to achieve the feat, as the Lancashire side managed to win both the very first English league title and the FA Cup competition, the latter having been founded earlier (in 1871/72).
At the time, these were the only two competitions for teams to compete in and winning both would therefore be the ultimate achievement in English football, which, from that point onwards, became known as the league and cup double. As an aside, whilst many view Arsenal’s team of 2003/04 as The Invincibles, those with a better knowledge of football history will be aware that North End were the original Invincibles. Not only did the Lilywhites win the first ever double, they did it in fine style, going unbeaten throughout the whole campaign.
What Year Did Chelsea Win the Double?
Returning to the Blues and the matter at hand, Chelsea managed to complete this prestigious achievement in the 2009/10 season, under Carlo Ancelotti’s management. Despite being knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Inter Milan, which was immensely disappointing, Chelsea still managed to have their most successful season ever, as they won both the Premier League and the FA Cup.
Under Ancelotti, they played expansive attacking football, which led to them breaking numerous goalscoring records, as they were able to demolish teams by enormous margins, including an 8-0 victory against Wigan Athletic on the final day of the season.
Premier League Success
- Points Tally: 86
- Top Scorer: Didier Drogba (29)
- Biggest Win: 8-0 (Wigan Athletic)
Under “Don Carlo”, Chelsea stormed to a third Premier League title in their history, racking up 86 points and smashing the record for most goals scored in a 20-team league campaign, with 103, some 17 more than Man United who finished second. Chelsea finished with a goal difference of +71, an English football record, and you can see why, as their victories over the course of the season included a 7-0 win against Stoke, 7-1 against Villa, a 7-2 thrashing of Sunderland and even putting eight past Wigan with no reply.
Ivorian battering ram, Didier Drogba, was in magnificent form for Chelsea, scoring a monumental 37 goals in all competitions, including 29 league strikes, which secured a second Golden Boot for the brilliant forward. Under Ancelotti, Chelsea were a force to be reckoned with, as they managed to outdo Fergie’s Man Utd, who had won the previous three Premier League titles.
- Final Attendance: 88,000
- Score in Final: 1-0
- Runners Up: Portsmouth
Chelsea went into the 2009/10 FA Cup as reigning champions, having won the competition for a fifth time the season prior, and the Blues were eager to retain the trophy. Just a week before the final, the west London giants had wrapped up the Premier League title race, leaving the prestigious domestic double there for the taking.
Chelsea’s FA Cup form had been similarly excellent and involved a shed load of goals, as became expected under their brilliant Italian boss. The Blues breezed past Watford 5-0 in the third round, before beating Preston 2-0 in the fourth; they then went on to defeat Cardiff, Stoke City and Aston Villa 4-1, 2-0 and 3-0 respectively to reach the final, having only conceded a single goal in the competition.
Their opponents for the sell-out final were Portsmouth, who were facing an uncertain future. Pompey had just been relegated from the Premier League, following a points deduction, but were no slouches, having won the trophy just two seasons prior in 2007/08.
A Close Call for Chelsea
Chelsea firmly dominated the game’s opening exchanges, hitting the woodwork an astounding five times, and that was just in the first half! However, the Blues failed to break the deadlock before the break, and it seemed like it may not be their day. This bad luck continued for Chelsea, as Pompey were awarded a penalty shortly after the half-time interval.
Kevin Prince-Boateng (honestly, where hasn’t he played?) stepped up to take the spot kick, which he under-hit and was easily saved by Petr Cech, keeping the tie level. Not long later, around the hour mark, the Blues were awarded a free-kick within shooting distance, which the in-form Drogba was able to curl past the diving David James, opening the scoring in superb style.
Chelsea were unable to score again in the game, despite being awarded a penalty, which the normally ever-reliable Frank Lampard missed, but were able to hold on to their narrow lead and secure the trophy. Portsmouth themselves wasted key goalscoring opportunities, allowing the Blues to complete their first ever domestic double, a remarkable achievement for Ancelotti in his first season as Chelsea manager.
Times Chelsea Nearly Won the Double
Whilst the Pensioners only have one double to their name (for now at least!), there are a number of times they have come close to winning it. 1964/65 was a fine season for the club as they finished third in the league, lost in the semi final of the FA Cup and also managed to win the League Cup. Just a few years later, in 1969/70, they went close again, this time winning the FA Cup but once more finishing third in the top flight.
In 1996/97 they won the FA Cup and finished sixth in the Premier League, going one better (again winning the cup but managing fifth in the league) in 1999/2000. Following the Roman Abramovich takeover and with Jose Mourinho at the helm (for at least part of this time), Chelsea enjoyed probably their finest period from 2004/05 to 2011/12. Whilst 2009/10 was the only season they were able to complete the double, they went relatively close several times, winning at least either the league or the cup in six out of the eight seasons.
2006/07 was the campaign in which they came closest to securing what would have been a first double as they won the FA Cup but finished second in the league. An incredible campaign under Mourinho saw them win the League Cup and make the semis of the Champions League too, going oh so close to an unprecedented quadruple. Chelsea’s most recent near-miss came in 2016/17, when they won the Premier League but lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal.
Which Other English Teams Have Won the Double?
Since the inaugural season of the Football League, 1888/89, when a double first became a possibility, only eight teams have managed to pull of the impressive feat of winning both of England’s top competitions in the same season. Chelsea are one of six clubs to have only won a singular double, alongside Preston North End, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City, with the latter’s triumph coming as part of the first ever domestic treble, which the Cityzens completed in 2018/19.
Manchester United & Arsenal
Only Manchester United and Arsenal, with a truly incredible three apiece, have managed to win the double on multiple occasions. The Red Devils managed to complete a hat-trick of doubles in the 1990s, which included winning the continental treble (Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League) in the 1998/99 campaign. In Arsenal’s case, their doubles were far more spread out, their first having come back in 1970/71 under Bertie Mee, before they won it twice under Arsene Wenger in 1997/98 and 2001/02.
However, due to the intense competitivity of the current Premier League, in which Liverpool and Manchester City are constantly locked in a battle of trying to outdo another, it might seem to some unlikely that a team will be able to complete the double any time soon. However, the growing dominance of the top teams, not just those two but also Man United, Arsenal and of course the Blues, means we are seeing doubles achieved far more regularly than we did in the past.
Seven Doubles in Less Than 30 Years
In almost 100 years from Preston’s fine achievement in 1889, through to Liverpool’s one and only double in 1986 (when they beat Everton in the FA Cup final and pipped their local rivals by just two points in the league), there were five doubles completed. However, since Man United claimed their first double in the 1993/94 campaign, there have been a further seven completed in less than 30 years.