After Southampton defeated Swansea there is now only one relegation place yet to be decided and Chelsea could play a big role in who faces the drop at the end of the campaign.
Tonight Chelsea play Huddersfield in a game that we need to win but Huddersfield only need to draw.
This is because they are 3 points ahead of Swansea who sit in the final relegation place and have only one game left to play. If Huddersfield can get a point against Chelsea or Arsenal in their final games then they will book their place in the Premier League for another season.
If they lose both games (which is the most likely outcome) then the door is open for Swansea who are at home against Stoke on the final day. There is no scenario where goal difference comes into play as Huddersfield already trail on this and it would worsen automatically should they lose both games.
How Will This Affect Tonight
It will be interesting to see if Huddersfield come out of their shell and try and get something to defend or whether they are on the back foot the whole time.
Most teams in the bottom half of the table come to Stamford Bridge looking to waste time and delay things, I think this will be the case even more so tonight. Expect plenty of goal kicks that take forever and the ball to be out of play ALOT.
I won’t blame Huddersfield though, they are scrapping for their lives and if they were not playing us I’d be rooting for them. One of my childhood friends was a Huddersfield fan when they were in League One so it would be great if they could stay up this season as I have a soft spot for them.
Although beating Liverpool has gotten some fans and pundits excited about the prospect of Chelsea finding a way of sneaking into the top four, it is not very likely.
It does, however, remind us that it is the hope that kills us.
I had got my head around not playing in the Champions League and then Antonio Conte with an assist from Liverpool and Tottenham’s tepid form reels us back in.
The victory over Liverpool was particularly enjoyable and nerve-wracking at the same time, it is great to beat the pundits’ favourites this season and apply pressure.
The nerves are back and its a little bit cruel as our hopes are quite slim. We need to win our last two games and HOPE Liverpool or Tottenham to lose relatively easy games to qualify.
I simply do not see that happening.
Do We Deserve The Top Four
We have not been the most exciting team this season, at times it has looked like the team has forgotten how to shoot or form a meaningful attack from tons of possession. However, Conte has ground out enough results that a miracle could still happen.
This season we have been poor, a high level of quality across the pitch has not been delivered consistently throughout the campaign with results against Watford, Bournemouth and West Ham, in particular, haunting us.
A lack of attacking talent is one of the reasons we need a mulligan to qualify, both Tottenham and Liverpool have better goal differences, which means they are technically an extra point ahead of us in the race to qualify
It would be great if we were somehow able to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but we are trying to keep our expectations to Thursday night football rather than dreaming too much of anything bigger.
PFA team of the year defender Marcos Alonso, continues to be unavailable for selection to Antonio Conte in the fallout over his tackle that the referee missed against Southampton. He missed the Burnley game and the FA Cup Semi-Final he will complete the suspension in our away game Swansea.
The punishment has been leveled after the Spaniard stamped on Southampton’s Shane Long in the fixture St Marys last weekend. The incident went unnoticed by match officials at the time. However, after reviewing video footage, the Independent Regulatory Commission decided that Alonso was guilty of violent conduct, and as a result, they imposed a three-match ban.
Disciplinary action was the right result, but highlights the inconsistency of the disciplinary system.
Former Chelsea player Mark Hughes, Southampton’s recently appointed manager said that he believed that the retrospective action was warranted as in his opinion, Alonso’s impulsive foul deserved some form of disciplinary action for what he felt had been a dangerous challenge. Had it been spotted at the time, when the offence took place, Hughes maintained that it would inevitably have resulted in a sending off.
This is probably true, however there were instances in the league that week that were more aggressive but because they were seen by the referee the only action taken was a very lenient yellow card.
Alonso refuted the offence and said that any resulting disciplinary action would be unwelcome. But having been verified by the video record and the disciplinary board, the penalty is a blot on the Spaniards copy-book, coming just shortly after having been the only Chelsea player to be nominated for a position in the Professional Football Associations Premier League team of the year.
Alonso’s removal from selection has not affected Chelsea so far with two victories. It comes at a time when the club still nurtures slim hopes of a final four placement in the Premiership. To achieve a finish in fourth, Chelsea must win all of the remaining matches and hope that Tottenham slip up.
Although Chelsea still have hopes of winning the FA Cup, according to their Brazilian attacking midfielder, Willian Borges da Silva, a player highly thought of the late, great Ray Wilkins whose sad passing is much lamented; even if Chelsea do win the FA Cup, it will only atone in part for the club’s poor showing this season in the Premiership.
Alonso forced absence could work in Chelsea’s favour
Although Alonso’s skills will be sorely missed, the Brazilian born Italian player, Emerson Palmieri dos Santos, is a more than capable replacement. He was, after-all, purchased especially for this sort of eventuality; indeed, Alonso’s misfortune, is Emerson’s window of opportunity.
The 23-year-old left wing-back has to date only played 105 minute’s-worth of football for the Blues since his transfer from Roma in January for an initial fee of £17.5-million. As an attacking full-back, Emerson has a great turn of speed making him faster then Alonso in the sprint. By staying close to the side-lines, he offers Chelsea great overlapping potential and his fast pace means that he can get back into a defensive position when needs must.
He has the skill and wherewithal for playing quick one-twos with the likes of Eden Hazard, making the Blues a real threat on the counter. Although he doesn’t have the experience yet of Alonso, so he won’t be able to go into central positions the way that the Spaniard can; his speed is his real ace in the hole, and can be fatal against his opponents if he can get telling crosses in.
With a little bit of luck
As is often the case with Antonio Conte’s selection process, the non-availability of a first-choice player like Alonso, forces the managers hand, but it can bring about surprisingly good results. One thing is for sure and that is that if they wish claim fourth place in league, they will need some luck, but above all, they will need to find their best form. The same goes of course for the FA Cup.
It is with great sadness that we learned that Ray Wilkins has died after suffering a heart attack recently.
The former Chelsea captain, caretaker, assistant manager and coach lived through some of the clubs hardest times as a player and some of the most glorious times as part of the coaching team.
He will be fondly remembered as a Chelsea legend by fans young and old for his contribution to the history of our great club.
Ray Wilkins Chelsea Captain
To my father’s generation, he is a legend on the pitch having come through the Chelsea academy to the first team at a time when the golden Chelsea generation of the early seventies was fading away and austerity and struggle were the new club order.
He made his debut at 17 and became captain of the team at just 18 years old. He became the heart of the team of the mid to late 70’s battling relegation and winning promotion with the club.
It was with great reluctance that mounting debts saw Wilkins leave Stamford Bridge as a player in 1979 and go on to play for Manchester United.
Ray Wilkins Chelsea Assistant Manager
To my generation, Ray Wilkins will be remembered for his role as a coach and assistant manager. He was a coach during the reign of Gianluca Vialli and when he was sacked was caretaker manager for just one game (that he won).
A role he would also fill when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked that also saw him victorious making him arguably the most successful manager in our history.
Wilkins will most be remembered for his coaching during the time under Carlo Ancelotti, where he was acknowledged by the Italian as a key cog in the double winning season of 2009-2010.
Unfortunately, something behind the scenes happened and he was unceremoniously cast aside and sacked by the club (reportedly without the consent of Ancelotti). This highlighted his importance to the team that never really recovered leading to the sacking of Ancelotti in the summer.
A true gentleman he was a respected member of the football community with an unparalleled understanding of the game.
He will truly be missed. RIP Ray Wilkins 1956 – 2018
In a surprise announcement ahead of the Royal wedding it has been announced that Harry Kane will be knighted for “services to putting the pressure on”
The 24 year old striker has prolific striker who was not even born the last time that Spurs beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is being recognised for his glorious achievements of the last two years.
Years in which he rose to the challenge of putting the pressure on the Premier League Champions to great adulation before his side ultimately won nothing more than a packet of quavers and hot air from football pundits.
Firstly Spurs were able to make things tough for the Cinderella story of Leicester winning the league before their hopes were ended with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea who came back from 2 goals down to spoil the party.
The next year he had the same role as Antonio Conte’s side went on to win the league in some style in the Italian’s first season in charge.
29 and 30 Premier League goals may have won him a golden boot but Kane’s medal case currently limited to a League Cup runners up medal from the 2014/2015. The FA devastated at this sorry state of affairs have stepped up and taken action by lobbying Meghan Markle directly.
The American not understanding the game and her husband an Aston Villa fan (same issue) were keen to help recognise the Prince’s namesake.
Sir Harry Kane of the PressureDome has thus far been unavailable for comment, however Spurs fans have risen in honour of one of their own.
“Harry Kane is a living legend, his ability to the pressure on has really boosted our annual VHS season review sales and we hope one day to see him put the pressure on at a higher level with England”
*This is a terribly written and not very funny April fool*
Tottenham come into this match in better form than us, having won 4 of their last 5 Premier League matches. Chelsea on the other hand have only been able to win 2 of our last 5, with two relegation-threatened sides in Crystal Palace and West Brom being the only fixtures that saw victory and the all important 3 points.
In our last league meeting back in August, the defending champions Chelsea managed to win 2-1 at Wembley Stadium, thanks to a brace from Marcos Alonso. Since then the two have been involved in a battle for a place in the top four and with it, a place in next season’s Champions League. Despite Tottenham having a 5 point advantage over Chelsea, it is the Blues who are the current favourites with football bets at 13/10.
A win for Chelsea would see them sit just 2 points off Spurs with 7 games to go, making us favourites. A Spurs win would surely kill off any hope of the Blues playing Champions League football next season. Failure to secure Champions League football could spell the end for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte who has already clashed with the board this season.
Tottenham will be without top scorer Harry Kane for the visit to Stamford Bridge, as he is currently recovering from ligament damage in his right ankle.
Spurs will also have a mental disadvantage, having never won at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. The North London club have won 5 of the 51 Premier League matches between the pair, all of them occurring at home.
Chelsea meanwhile have won 27 matches, 16 of those being at Stamford Bridge, which should provide both Conte and the Chelsea players some confidence heading into the match.
There have been some similarities between the two clubs in the league this season as they have both been able to keep 14 clean sheets and have achieved their biggest league wins at home to Stoke City, where they both managed to score 5 against the Potters. Their biggest defeats also share some similarities, with Chelsea’s being a 4-1 away defeat to Watford and Spurs’ being a 4-1 away defeat, but to league leaders and likely champions Manchester City.
We have created the following infographic which looks at both clubs ahead of the match on 1st April, which could go some way to deciding who will finish in the top 4 this season.
There’s no way of dressing up Chelsea’s current form. Especially away from home where the Blues have lost 5 of their last 6 away games.
The lack of victories on the road has cost Chelsea dearly this season. Sunday’s quarter-final win against Leicester had to go down to extra-time. In the end, it may prove to be the most important win of the season.
Chelsea have managed to avoid both Spurs and Manchester United in the semi-finals. A struggling Southampton is the only obstacle in the way of an FA Cup final.
Despite Chelsea’s poor form, there have been moments that have gone against them. Situations where they didn’t get the rub of the green.
The Carabao Cup semi-final against Arsenal was cruel on Chelsea, as the fixture at the Emirates showed how costly a bad bounce of the ball can be.
There’s no way of dressing up Chelsea’s current form. Especially away from home where the Blues have lost 5 of their last 6 away games.
The lack of victories on the road has cost Chelsea dearly this season. Sunday’s quarter-final win against Leicester had to go down to extra-time. In the end, it may prove to be the most important win of the season. Chelsea have managed to avoid both Spurs and Manchester United in the semi-finals. A struggling Southampton is the only obstacle in the way of an FA Cup final.
It was as a similar story against Barcelona over the two legs. The Catalans weren’t at their fluid best but still came away with a 4-1 aggregate win. Largely thanks to Messi and his ability to sniff out the slightest chance.
In a flash, the Argentinian would have the ball in the back of the net. No team had hit the post more in the Champions League than Chelsea. Chelsea were to be denied by the woodwork three times on the night.
Lionel Messi’s goal 2:08 into Barcelona vs. Chelsea is the quickest goal he has ever scored in his career for club or country…
There was a strong shout for a penalty on Marcos Alonso after Pique brought him down, too. Instead, Alonso was asked to get to his feet by the ref as play carried on. All of these fine margins went against Chelsea. The individual errors of the players were punished by a lurking Messi.
The performance at the Nou Camp was a terrific one in truth, with lots of running and quick passing. There was a frightening tempo across the field when changing play.
On another night, Chelsea may have progressed. Barca now head through to the quarter-finals as favourites to win the Champions League at odds of 5/2.
This type of misfortune can’t and won’t carry on forever. When the chances come, the Blues have to make the absolute most of them.
They could well arrive in the FA Cup. Chelsea are at odds of 13/8 to win the event outright. Punters who think Conte’s men are able to win the FA Cup can protect themselves from these fine margins by using an introductory offer. Those who bet with the best UK Bookmaker betting sites can claim a £20 free bet from Paddy Power, protecting their investment.
Overcoming Southampton looks an easier task. Southampton are at odds of 5/1 to beat Chelsea in the semi-final. With Spurs beginning to disappear into the distance, Chelsea will need a strong showing in the FA Cup. It will be all hands to the pump to try and win it. Hopes of a top-four finish are fading with the Blues at odds of 5/2.
Chelsea enter a crucial part of the season on the back of some poor form. This sub-standard form has been compounded by their luck deserting them. There is reason to be optimistic that the season can still end well. A few more performances like the one against Barcelona and a change in fortunes will put an end to a dismal run. It may even propel Chelsea to some silverware or a top-four finish.
Following a poor run in February Chelsea are battling for their lives to reach the Champions League. Still, in the cup, it is interesting to see fan reactions about whether the FA Cup or Champions League qualification is the 2018 priority.
The FA Cup sees a return to Wembley, an experience cheapened slightly by Spurs tenure at the ground. It is also an opportunity for glory and silverware, a potential final being the focal point and highlight of the season.
The Champions League qualification places are more about the club’s place in the European footballing hierarchy. Qualification is financially more rewarding and a bigger draw for the players we are trying to recruit and even retain within the squad.
If you had to choose between an FA Cup trophy win or Champions League qualification, which would you pick?
Emotions make the admin side with the idea of winning the FA Cup, we can just about remember a time when Chelsea had been in a drought of more than 25 years since winning a significant trophy.
Little can beat the feeling of winning a trophy, a Fourth place finish is not a trophy. Despite what Arsene Wenger may have told the Arsenal faithful
The idea of prioritising 4th place over an FA Cup win seems bizarre. It is ultimately through a reflection in the changes that modern football has brought.
Since 1997 Chelsea fans have not had to go significant periods without a trophy, fit can be easy to understand why performance in Europe has dominated the focus. The win in Munich in 2012 was a magical moment and we all want to see Chelsea playing on the biggest stage.
The Practical Element
Practicality means that Champions League qualification should be the priority.
From a practical perspective qualification for the Champions League is vital, not only to retain Antonio Conte but also a number of vital stars. If we fail then the futures of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kante will come into focus.
This will be compounded by the financial implications of fourth place, money that will allow us to attract more talent to refresh the squad and compete in an ever challenging Premier League table.
After the highs of 2016-17, this season has been a huge let-down for Chelsea fans, from the opening-day defeat to Burnley to crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona.
Along the way, Antonio Conte’s side have managed some good performances, including victories over Tottenham and Manchester United and a solid draw in the first leg of their Champions League tie with Barcelona, but the positives have been balanced with negatives.
Losses to Watford, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and West Ham have led to Chelsea slipping out of the top four, with the FA Cup their only remaining route to silverware.
Perhaps most significantly for Conte’s own future, he was forced to acknowledge in February that the club may not finish in a Champions League qualification spot.
Most bookies seem to agree with that assessment, rating Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham as stronger bets to finish in the top four, but it may not have gone down well with the Chelsea owner.
The roots of this season’s struggles lie in last summer’s transfer business.
Instead of building on a Premier League-winning side, Chelsea ended up releasing two of their most important players in Nemanja Matić and Diego Costa.
Where Conte had hoped to be adding to the squad, he spent much of his time trying to replace two big holes in the first team, and worse still, has failed to do so, leaving the front line less potent than last year and putting additional pressure on N’Golo Kanté at the heart of the Chelsea midfield.
With a squad that is probably weaker than last year’s, Conte has had to campaign on four fronts this season. Last time around, he had the luxury of being able to rest his best players while Chelsea’s rivals were busy playing in Europe, but this season the fixtures have come thick and fast and the lack of depth in the squad has been revealed.
The final problem has been the failure to adapt tactically. Last year, Chelsea set the tactical agenda, thanks to Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, which offered both defensive solidity and creativity.
However, this season, opponents have found ways to negate that tactical advantage, by overloading the weakened Chelsea midfield or by targeting the space behind the wing-backs. Conte’s response – to switch to a 3-5-1-1 formation – has been only partially effective and is in any case a reactive move rather than a positive change.
To what extent can Conte be blamed for Chelsea’s current situation? The fact that they have had more fixtures to play this season is not a failing, but the inadequate transfer dealings were largely down to him, and the inability to develop a tactical Plan B is most certainly his failure.
His managerial record entitles him to respect and it would be premature to dispense with his services without giving him the chance to put things right – but whether he gets that chance will probably depend on finishing in the top four of the Premier League in May.
The Manchester City game last weekend was one of the most boring and embarrassing games of football I have seen Chelsea play in twenty-five years of following the team.
Antonio Conte’s men lined up with Eden Hazard playing in a false nine position and lacked any attacking intent for 90 of the 94 minutes that the ball was in play.
It is disgraceful to see us surrender our title to champions-elect so meakley without any ambition from trying to win the game.
We did not just try to park the bus but also took out the wheels and removed the fuel from the tank so that no-one could be tempted to move the ball upfield.
It was not the heaviest, most significant or most painful in the history of the club, but that is exactly why it is so frustrating. Chelsea has played this defensively before but there was something on the line, something to defend.
Like the 2012 games against Barcelona where a position in a major final was up for grabs or even 2014 where a draw or victory would deny Liverpool the league.
This time was different though, we are battling for the Champions League and a draw or narrow loss would not cut it in the race.
The loss is not that hard to take in isolation, it is the way in which we kissed the Pep Guardiola ring and meekly surrendered that bites.
This year’s Manchester City side are one of the best to have graced the Premier League and will win the league at a canter. Respect and care were sensible when taking them on at the Etihad, but Chelsea laid down and surrendered.
The play out from the back necessitated by the pressing of Manchester City and the style of play was haphazard and misguided. Too often the ball would be lumped forward far away from the isolated and ineffective Hazard.
Some would argue that the tactic almost worked, defensively we were solid for all but a handful of moments and went in at half-time level. Had it not been for a lapse of concentration at the re-start we may have gotten away with a point.
Yet going behind did not bring the Blues out of our shell, instead, we played 11 men behind the ball and even when we had it was unable to get past the Manchester City press and impact on upon the game.
It was 76 minutes before a recognised striker was deployed and this had little impact upon the game.
Manchester City breezed past our embarrassing performance and look set to smash records we currently hold such as most points, best goal difference and goals scored.
Chelsea broke a record of our own during the snoozefest at the Etihad failing to register a single shot on goal in the first half. The first time this has happened since Opta started collecting data in 2003/2004.
We now need an excellent run to stand any chance of finishing in the top four this season, which is crumbling fast.