A kit can define a team. An iconic shirt can become ingrained in your mind forever. Whether it’s the look of the shirt or what your team did while wearing it, a football kit can live with you perpetually. Over the years, Chelsea have had so many nice kits that it’s hard to even make a list but here it is: I am going to take you through MY top 5 Chelsea home kits of the Premier League era.
The red collar… the famous red collar. Some fans love it, some hate it. I personally like it a lot, especially on this shirt. I think it looks classy and well positioned; there’s not too much of it so it’s not overpowering, just a dash – I think it’s perfect! Red collar aside, the rest of the shirt is simple, but I think it needed to be. The collar is the statement of the shirt and the rest is just there to do what it normally does. We can’t forget the gold premier league badge too, that really is the cherry on top!
The season, however, wasn’t as nice as the kit. Early exits in all 3 cup competitions saw the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti to win back to back premier league titles rise. Unfortunately, 2nd place wasn’t good enough according to Mr Abramovich and Carlo was sacked in the tunnel after the final match of the season. Overall, this shirt, despite the bad memories attached to it, is one of my favourites of all time and I would love to see the red detail brought back in the future.
Best player in this shirt: Florent Malouda. What a player Malouda was. Unfortunately he never really reached his potential with Chelsea, but he was our star player throughout the dull 2010/11 season. The Frenchman finished as our top scorer in the premier league with 13 goals and his performances were one of very few shining lights in that season.
Best match in this shirt: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal was my pick of the bunch from this season. It’s always nice to win in a London derby, especially when you win with two world class finishes! Drogba’s deft flick from Cole’s cross and Alex’s absolute thunderbolt of a free kick saw us take 3 points at the Bridge!
It can be argued that Chelsea were somewhat lacking in ‘nice’ looking kits prior to the Abramovich era. All of the shirts had a very 90’s feel and frankly just didn’t appeal to me whatsoever. However, one always stood out. The 1999/2001 home shirt was a beauty. It was simple but so majestic. This shirt was worn by the likes of Gianfranco Zola and Dennis Wise during our 1999/2000 FA cup winning run. The final wasn’t a particularly fantastic game with the only goal being scored by Roberto Di Matteo after a Zola free kick was failed to be cleared by both David James and Gareth Southgate. One of the best things about this kit is the combination of the Autoglass sponsor and the gorgeously clean logo that was used briefly between 1999 and 2003. This shirt is simplicity at its finest and is certainly the best Chelsea shirt worn in the 90’s.
Best player in this shirt: Gianfranco Zola. I’m sure this one is obvious; the little magician was a blessing for us in a season that brought an FA cup win and a good Champions league run. Despite only scoring 4 and assisting 9, his all-round game was a pleasure to watch.
Best game in this shirt: Chelsea 3-1 Barcelona Champions league quarter final. What a game this was! We blew away the Catalonian giants with 3 goals in 8 minutes at Stamford Bridge. It is a performance that is still talked about today as one of Chelsea’s best European games ever. Unfortunately, the second leg didn’t go quite as well but we didn’t wear this kit in that game so it doesn’t matter!
This shirt is all about the neckline. The white, slightly V necked collar is like a halo around the classic blue shirt. All the details are perfect too: great sponsor, wonderful badge and the Umbro logo looks surprisingly clean with this shirt. This was the first kit of the Abramovich era at Chelsea and is certainly one of the nicest.
The kit was worn in 2 successive seasons, first in the 2003/04 campaign and then in the title winning campaign of 2004/05. The latter was obviously the more successful and it was also the first season of Jose Mourinho’s tenure at the club, which signalled the beginning of a dominant few seasons for the Blues. Chelsea won the league by 12 points in 2004/05 conceding a mere 15 goals in the process – it’s safe to say that the partnership of Terry and Carvalho was rock solid. Aside from the defence, new signing Didier Drogba and a young Frank Lampard developed a partnership which would blossom over the next 7-8 years.
Best player in this shirt: Frank Lampard. Super Frank was in phenomenal form during these two seasons, scoring 34 goals and notching 29 assists! Sensational numbers from midfield. To add to that, Frank finished 2nd in the Ballon d’Or behind Ronaldinho in 2005. He was instrumental in helping us to our first league title in 50 years.
Best match in this shirt: Bolton 0:2 Chelsea. How could I pick anything other than the title winning match? A stellar performance with 2 great goals from Frank Lampard secured us the title at the DW stadium. The game wasn’t necessarily the most enthralling, but it was the meaning behind it that earned it top spot for me. Chelsea were once again champions of England and what a beautiful kit we did it in!
We won the Champions League in this shirt… I’m not sure if I need to say anything else really but I will anyway. What a unique and special shirt this is for every Chelsea fan, even if we take away the sentiment of winning the most prestigious trophy in club football. It’s a fantastic shirt, the white shoulder pads made this shirt instantly recognisable. It wasn’t something we had seen before on a Chelsea shirt and it was executed to perfection. The subtle 2 toned blue stripes that lined the shirt horizontally just added to the beauty of the shirt.
I could talk for days about how this season went but everyone already knows so I’ll keep it simple. The league campaign was atrocious, Andre Villas-Boas set out on a mission to bring youth to the squad but we just weren’t ready. Robbie Di Matteo returned and reinstated ‘the old guard’ and the rest is history – an iconic double including London’s one and only Champions League title. It was an emotional rollercoaster of a season which will live forever in the hearts of all Chelsea fans.
Best player in this shirt: It is hard to look past Didier Drogba for obvious reasons and if Cech wore this kit I’d probably choose him, but all things considered I think Juan Mata is the man for me. The Spaniard hit 12 goals and 20 assists for the blues in this campaign and despite missing his penalty in the final, he was our best player throughout the duration of the season.
Best match in this shirt: Chelsea 4-1 Napoli. There is a little bit of bias for me here, I was at the Bridge for this game and my oh my what a game it was. The most sensational come back imaginable, from 3-1 down in the first leg to 4-1 winners in the next. Not only that, but the 4 goal scorers (Drogba, Terry, Lampard and Ivanovic) were all members of the ‘old guard’ who had been dropped by Andre Villas-Boas earlier in the season! This match sent a message to the world that we weren’t finished and that our most experienced players who many had disregarded were still as good as they’d ever been and that was proven again when we lifted the Champions league on May 19th.
Three words: Three Four Three. The Premier League wasn’t ready. Talking of threes, this was the first time Adidas decided to put their famous three stripes down the side of the shirt as opposed to the usual place on the shoulders. Personally, I love the placement. I think it makes the kit look smart and it was a welcome change to the usual style that had become slightly boring. The only slight downside to the kit would be the faint lion emblems that appear all over the shirt, however this is only visible when looking up close so I’m just nit-picking really. The collar of this shirt is also fantastic. I love a white collar, it really makes the whole shirt stand out!
The season that we wore this shirt was outstanding. When Antonio Conte took the reigns in the Summer, people wondered if he would bring his famous 3-4-3 with him. At first he didn’t, sticking to a four at the back and honestly, it just didn’t work. After a 3-0 drubbing at Arsenal Conte unleashed the beast and it was 3-4-3 all the way to the title after that. Our team was full of players absolutely thriving on a system that suited them down to a tee. Alonso and Moses were unplayable at wing back with Kante and Matic running a tight ship in the middle. Even David Luiz managed to look like a good defender in this season and that’s really saying something! Overall, this was one of my favourite seasons as a Chelsea fan. The football was enjoyable and the kit was glorious.
Best player in this shirt: This one is very close. There are 2 or 3 great contenders, but it must be N’Golo Kanté. He won PFA player of the year and deservedly so. Our little general was unbelievable for the duration of the season; he made running the midfield in the toughest league in the world look like a breeze.
Best match in this shirt: Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea. This was counter attacking football at its finest. After going 1-0 down just before the break, we came out all guns blazing. 3 superb goals from Costa, Willian and Hazard won it for us marking the 8th win of our 13 game winning streak that began after the switch to three at the back. Finally, this matched was topped of by Aguero and Fernandinho getting sent of which also signalled one of my favourite moments of the season when Nathaniel Chalobah shoved Aguero to the ground after his rash challenge on David Luiz. Proper football!
Honourable Mention: 2019/2020 FA Kit
If this were a ‘real’ kit that we wore for the whole season then it would be number one, no question. This is the most visually stunning Chelsea shirt I have ever seen – everything on it is perfect! The logo used on this shirt should become our permanent logo in my opinion, I absolutely love it. The yellow numbering on the back of the shirt is amazing. Everything is just as it should be, I just wish we could have worn it more.
There is no best game and player for this shirt as we only wore it once so it would be rather obvious.
That concludes this list. Remember this is only my opinion and I’m sure yours will differ, so let us know what you think our best home kits ever were in the comments below!