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Was 2022/23 Chelsea’s Worst Premier League Season Ever?

Above Image: rarrarorro, Bigstock Photo

As the curtain came down on the 2022/23 Premier League season, Chelsea fans were glad to see the back of it. Just the season before, Chelsea had won the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, had made it to the finals of both the FA Cup and the League Cup and finished third in the Premier League.

Just 12 short months later and Chelsea look a shadow of their former selves: a 12th-place finish in the Premier League with just 44 points from their 38 games, scoring just a goal per game… and to rub salt in the wound, they got booted out of both the domestic cups at the third round stage. So the question has to be asked: was this Chelsea’s worst season in the Premier League era?

The Chart below shows where Chelsea finished in each of the 31 Premier League Seasons between 1992/93 and 2022/23.

Chart That Shows Chelsea FC's Premier League Finishing Positions Between 1992/93 and 2022/23

The five times that Chelsea were champions are highlighted above in gold but more importantly for this article, the six occasions where they finished tenth or lower are shown in red.

Chelsea’s Six Worst Premier League Seasons

Before we delve into the details of Chelsea’s worst seasons in the Premier League, let’s summarise the key stats from the six campaigns in which they finished 10th or lower in the table.

Season Position Games Wins Draws Losses Scored Conceded Diff Points
2022/23 12th 38 11 11 16 38 47 -9 44
2015/16 10th 38 12 14 12 59 53 6 50
1995/96 11th 38 12 14 12 46 44 2 50
1994/95 11th 42 13 15 14 50 55 -5 54
1993/94 14th 42 13 12 17 49 53 -4 51
1992/93 11th 42 14 14 14 51 54 -3 56

2022/23 – The Worst Ever?

  • Finishing Position – 12th
  • Points Per Game – 1.16
  • Win Percentage – 28.94
  • Goals Scored Per Game – 1.00
  • Manager(s) – Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter, Bruno Saltor, Frank Lampard

As you can see, most of these poor performances came in the early years of the Premier League, with the 2015/16 season being a notable blip (although Chelsea won the title in the season before and the one after). So the 2022/23 campaign really stands out as a very bad season by Chelsea’s recent standards. After all, the Blues won the Premier League title five times between 2004/05 and 2016/17, so their fans expect far more than the side delivered.

Of course, making your way through four managers in one season is hardly the recipe for success. And sacking the manager who led the club to the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup was a rather puzzling decision, to say the least. Former Brighton boss Graham Potter clearly couldn’t cut it at the club, and when club legend Frank Lampard came in as caretaker boss and promptly lost his first six matches, Blues fans knew there was no easy fix to the problems the club faced. In fact they won only one of the final 12 league matches, leaving the club with a bottom-half finish for the first time since 1995/96.

It’s clear, the 2022/23 season was bad. But was it the worst? Let’s take a brief look at the other five seasons that fell well short of the expectations of Chelsea fans to see if any was as bad as 2022/23.

2015/16 – Special One Not So Special

  • Finishing Position – 10th
  • Points Per Game – 1.32
  • Win Percentage – 31.58
  • Goals Scored Per Game – 1.55
  • Manager(s) – Jose Mourinho, Steve Holland, Guus Hiddink

There was much optimism ahead of this season for Blues fans. After all, they’d just won the Premier League title and the League Cup as Jose Mourinho’s second stint at the club looked to be going very well indeed. But then the Special One appeared to lose his special touch… or at least he seemed to lose the confidence of the dressing room. Jose was shown the door in December 2015 and Dutchman Guus Hiddink was brought in as caretaker. Results improved under Hiddink and they finished in the top half (just!), but he moved on in the summer and was replaced by Antonio Conte… who led the Blues to the title the following season.

1995/96 – Chelsea Patient with Ineffective Hoddle

  • Finishing Position – 11th
  • Points Per Game – 1.32
  • Win Percentage – 31.58
  • Goals Scored Per Game – 1.21
  • Manager(s) – Glenn Hoddle

Had Glenn Hoddle performed so poorly as Chelsea boss in more modern times, there’s no way he would have been there for three seasons. But back in the 1990s, the Blues owners clearly had more patience. Hoddle failed to lead Chelsea to a top-10 finish in the Premier for the third season in a row… and then was appointed as England manager! Still, the goals-per-game ratio of 1.21 was still significantly better than Chelsea managed in 2022/23 and they finished a place higher in the first season in which the top flight contained only 20 teams.

1994/95 – Hoddle’s Medocity Continues

  • Finishing Position – 11th
  • Points Per Game – 1.29
  • Win Percentage – 30.95
  • Goals Scored Per Game – 1.19
  • Manager(s) – Glenn Hoddle

In 1994/94 there were 22 teams in the Premier League and hence 42 games over the season. Finishing in 11th position therefore still meant ending the campaign in the top half of the season. With a win percentage of more than 30 and 1.19 goals per game, Hoddle’s team this season was better than that of 2022/23, despite being far from impressive (statistically speaking).

1993/94 – Hoddle’s High Hopes Dashed

  • Finishing Position – 14th
  • Points Per Game – 1.21
  • Win Percentage – 30.95
  • Goals Scored Per Game – 1.17
  • Manager(s) – Glenn Hoddle

If any season was going to challenge the 2022/23 campaign as the worst in the Premier League era, this would be it. Chelsea finished in their lowest position in the Premier League, although there were 22 teams in the division at the time. On the flip side, though, they scored more goals per game, earned more points per game and had a better goal difference than the team of 2022/23. So as bad as things were in 1993/94 for Hoddle and co, 2022/23 was worse!

1992/93 – Dissappointing Inaugural Premier League Season

  • Finishing Position – 11th
  • Points Per Game – 1.33
  • Win Percentage – 33.33
  • Goals Scored Per Game – 1.21
  • Manager(s) – Ian Porterfield, David Webb

We’ll give Chelsea a bit of a break here as the 1992/93 was the very first Premier League season and the Blues – along with most sides – were really just finding their feet. Add to that the fact they had been playing in the second tier as recently as 1988/89 and, all things considered, a top-half finish wasn’t all that bad.

What Has Been Chelsea’s Worst Premier League Season?

2023 Turning Wooden Cubes

Based on the stats and analysis above, it appears rather obvious that the 2022/23 season was indeed Chelsea’s worst ever in the Premier League. Scoring an average of just a single goal per game is never going to get the fans cheering too loudly. And had the teams below them not been quite so poor, Chelsea could feasibly have found themselves in a real scrap against the drop.

Of course, if you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. And now that former Spurs and PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has been installed as the new Blues boss, there is optimism that things will certainly move in the right direction. Frankly, they couldn’t get much worse for Chelsea. Whether the Argentine boss will guide his new side to the dizzy heights of Champions League football or mount a realistic challenge for the title remains to be seen. But even a top-six finish in the 2023/24 season would be seen as a vast improvement.