Chelsea have had plenty of highs in the Premier League era. They have been crowned champions five times, with only Manchester clubs, United and City, having surpassed that mark. On the flip side though, there have been times since the 1992/93 season when things went a little pear-shaped for Chelsea. Not disastrously so (they’ve never been relegated from the Premier League), but the Blues have certainly had seasons their fans would prefer to forget. Unfortunately for those supporters, they are the seasons we are focusing on in this article.
The way things are going for Chelsea, 2023/24 might turn out to be their worst season yet in the Premier League. But let’s take a look back at the worst so far, up to – and definitely including! – the 2022/23 campaign.
Chelsea’s Worst Premier League Seasons – Summary
|Season||Wins||Draws||Losses||Points||Position||Points per Game||Goals per Game|
*Denotes 42 game seasons (the rest had 38 games)
1992/93 – Inaugural Premier League Campaign Woes
- Managers – Ian Porterfield (until 15th Feb 1993), David Webb
- Star Players – Andy Townsend, Dennis Wise, Tony Cascarino, Mick Harford
In a season in which your top scoring nets only 11 goals, and that player is Mick Harford, you know you won’t have bagged much silverware. But in truth, Chelsea weren’t a particularly good side at the time. They’d been playing in the second tier just a few years before (1988/89) and were still building for life in the top flight.
It was a winless run of six defeats and six draws between December 1992 and February 1993 that really caused problems for the Blues. It also cost Porterfield his job. Porterfield’s replacement, David Webb, steadied the ship in the second half of the campaign, but he was let go in favour of England and Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle.
1993/94 – Hoddle Fails to Make Positive Impact
- Manager – Glenn Hoddle
- Star Players – Dennis Wise, Frank Sinclair, Mark Stein
The 1993/94 campaign remains to this day the worst Chelsea performance in the Premier League in terms of their finishing position (albeit when the division had 22 teams instead of the current 20). Another poor run – poorer than the season before – scuppered any Chelsea hopes of finishing high up the table. The Blues lost nine of their 11 league matches between 2nd October and 27th December (and only managed to draw the other two).
During that time, they dropped to 20th position in the table and were facing the prospect of relegation. But Hoddle and the team turned things around to finish in 14th position. They also made it to the FA Cup final, which was probably the reason Hoddle kept his job.
1994/95 – Patience with Hoddle Pays No Dividends
- Managers – Glenn Hoddle
- Star Players – Paul Furlong, David Rocastle, Craig Burley
Chelsea got off to a decent start to the 1994/95 Premier League season, winning their opening three matches. But then four defeats in their next six started the rot and they remained somewhere between inconsistent and poor for the remainder of the league campaign. They did make it to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and finished relatively strongly in the league, so Hoddle was given another bite of the cherry the following year. At least 11th was better than the previous season’s 14th-place finish.
1995/96 – How Is Hoddle Still in Charge?
- Managers – Glenn Hoddle
- Star Players – Mark Hughes, Ruud Gullit, John Spencer
Hoddle had won no trophies and failed to finish in the top 10 in the league in each of his previous two seasons. But clearly the Chelsea board, led by Ken Bates, wanted to stick with their man (something that was certainly not the case with future owners!). To be fair to Hoddle, he did sign a couple of real stars in Mark Hughes and Ruud Gullit. But even that wasn’t enough to propel the Blues to a top 10 finish. Chelsea finished in 11th again and made it to the FA Cup semis… and Hoddle left at the end of the season to take up the England job!
2015/16 – First Dip After Successful Period
- Managers – Jose Mourinho (until 17 Dec 2015), Guus Hiddink
- Star Players – Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian, César Azpilicueta
In the period from 1996/97 to 2014/15, Chelsea won the Premier League four times and finished as runners-up on four occasions too. Then came 2015/16. Mourinho was in his second spell as Blues boss and had just led them to another title and the League Cup to boot. But all was far from well at Stamford Bridge at the start of this campaign. Despite having a squad full of world-beaters, the Blues lost nine of their opening 16 league games. That poor form included home defeats to Crystal Palace, Southampton and Bournemouth, while they went down on their travels to Everton, Stoke and Leicester, among others.
It was all too much for the Chelsea board who got rid of Mourinho (again) in December 2015 with the Blues languishing in 16th position in the table. Mourinho was replaced by Guss Hiddink who managed to turn things around to an extent and Chelsea ended the campaign in 10th.
2022/23 – The Worst of the Worst?
- Managers – Thomas Tuchel (until 7th Sep 2022), Graham Potter (until 2nd Apr 2023), Frank Lampard
- Star Players – Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling, Joao Felix, Mason Mount
In the season following Chelsea’s 10th-placed finish, they won the title once again. Then they finished in fifth, third, fourth, fourth and third, and got through a host of managers (Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard and Tomas Tuchel). In that time they also won the FA Cup (2017/18), the Europa League (2018/19) and even the Champions League (2020/21). But then 2022/23 rolled around and Chelsea fell apart.
Despite leading them to the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, former Dortmund and PSG boss Thomas Tuchel was given his marching orders after just six Premier League matches. Chelsea had won three of them and drawn one and many pundits suggested the decision to sack Tuchel was hasty at best and idiotic at worst. But that’s how new owner Todd Boehly rolled.
He was replaced by former Brighton boss Graham Potter, but he couldn’t find his feet and ended up getting the boot too in April 2023 with a poor win rate of just 39% (somewhat lower than Tuchel’s 60%). The Chelsea board then turned to club legend and failed manager, Frank Lampard. Who failed even more spectacularly than Potter, leading the Blues to just one victory (against Bournemouth). Chelsea ended up in the bottom half of table with fans scratching their heads about the owners’ scattergun transfer policy and wondering where the club might go from there.
Conclusion: Chelsea’s Worst Premier League Season Ever?
Based on scoring an average of just a single goal per game and mustering a mere 1.16 points per game, the 2022/23 season was undoubtedly Chelsea’s worst-ever in the Premier League. Over to you, Poch!