It’s going to be a busy old Christmas for Chelsea fans this year. Having thrashed Leeds 5-1 to claim their place in the semifinals of the Capital One Cup, the blues are facing an incredible congested fixtures list that will see them play 4 games in 9 days. Local Chelsea minicabs will be ecstatic to learn that 2 of these games are at home, 1 of which is against city rivals QPR, so they’ll be plenty of business over the festive period.
It’s a tricky run and Chelsea really need to take all 12 points if they are to have even the slightest glimmer of hope when it comes to challenging the two Manchester clubs in the league. More importantly, they need to keep a safe distance between themselves and the chasing pack in top 4. Competition for Champions’ League places are exceptionally high this year, with Swansea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton all expected to challenge for the coveted European cup. Blues fans will be hoping the jittery form that has dogged Rafa Benitez’s short time at the club will have been put behind them by their latest victory, and that they can start playing the sort of excellent, attacking football that drew many admirers during the early days of the season.
The key will be keeping players focussed and fresh, some that Benitez is all too aware of. The spaniard will be keen to rest key players like Juan Mata and Oscar over the festive period, but may very well struggle after the squad was left so thin in many areas. The insight from the fans themselves, the casual chatter as they hail down one of the many minicabs in Chelsea, is that the club’s summer spending was slightly misplaced. Huge money was spent on attacking midfielders, to lessen the pressure on Mata, who had been performing admirably last season but struggled to play every game. The addition of the much coveted Eden Hazard and the acquisition of talented young Brazilian Oscar, have both helped to relieve the stress, but splurges on Victor Moses and Marko Marin have left the team woefully short of central midfielders. With the sale of Raul Meireles and the loan of Josh McEachran and Michael Essien, Chelsea find themselves with 3 central midfielders to fit 2 slots: Ramires, Mikel and Frank Lampard. This has led to some fatigued performances from the pivot, most notably against Juventus where the trio of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio were able to dominate through the middle.
More worrying still, the Blues began the season with only 3 strikers. One of them, Romelu Lukaku, has since been loaned out and one is very likely leaving during January, meaning only Fernando Torres remains. Torres’ fall from grace since his transfer from Liverpool has been documented ad nauseum, but he has enjoyed something of a comeback under Benitez. Both spaniards know that this is their only chance to prove themselves, and if they don’t, they may find themselves escorted away from the Bridge in a couple of Chelsea minicabs, like so many souls before them.
From The Bridge in a couple of Chelsea Minicabs