Newcastle dashes Chelsea’s Champions League hopes for next season
It’s been such a great month for Chelsea that it almost seems ungrateful to complain about their 2-0 loss to Newcastle Wednesday. But I was pretty mad about it after watching the game last night.
Winning has a way of spoiling fans. We very quickly come to expect it every single match, even though winning every time is rarely realistic. It’s been a dismal season for the Blues overall, which is why this great run under Di Matteo has been so fun. No one saw it coming. And it just kept going and going before it apparently peaked with the Blues’ gutsy elimination of Barcelona from the Champions League.
The fact that defeating Barcelona was so fun made Wednesday’s loss to Newcastle all the more jarring. Against Newcastle, Chelsea resembled the Villas-Boas era Blues: some decent and sometimes fancy possession with absolutely nothing to show for it. To be fair to Chelsea, they were scored on by two of the awesomest goals of the entire Premier League season (both by Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse). But it was still upsetting that the team that shut down Barcelona for 180 minutes got beat twice by the same guy (and couldn’t muster any goals themselves)!
Losing to Newcastle is depressing because the match was Chelsea’s last hope for insuring a Champions League spot for next season. There’s still a sliver of hope of course – they’ll qualify for the next UCL season if they win this season’s UCL final against Bayern on May 19. But that’s just the thing – I’m not feeling confident that Chelsea will able to beat Bayern in Munich. I’m afraid the Barcelona semifinal was the high point of Chelsea’s season. I hope I’m wrong. I don’t know about other Blues fans, but my heart is set on the Champions League title. Yes, the FA Cup Final is Saturday and it would be great to win it, but for me it’s all about the Champions League Final.
Who do you think will win Saturday’s FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool?
Chelsea dismantles QPR 6-1
It was so fun to watch a non-stressful Chelsea game today. It’s been some time since Blues fans have been able to kick back and enjoy a Chelsea goal fest. It was a welcome respite after the ultra tense Champions League semifinal matches against Barcelona the past two weeks.
I was expecting a tense match against QPR since they’re fighting to stave off relegation and with Chelsea coming off the emotional high of knocking out Barcelona last Tuesday. But credit to Di Matteo for focusing the squad on the task at hand – a loss today would’ve probably ended Chelsea’s bid for fourth place in the Premier League (and thus a Champions League berth for next season).
Daniel Sturridge began the scoring onslaught just 45 seconds into the match. John Terry added a header goal off a corner kick a few minutes later, then Fernando Torres added two more – all before the 25th minute! Torres scored another goal in the second half to complete his first hat trick as a Chelsea player (Malouda scored the team’s sixth goal).
Torres’ finishing was so much sharper against QPR, I wonder if his climactic goal at Barcelona last week finally got him over the mental hurdle that has hampered him since joining Chelsea. He certainly looked a lot more relaxed and confident today. If he can finish the season looking this strong, I’ll have to recant my post from a few weeks back listing him among those players Chelsea should consider transferring this summer!
Chelsea’s possession and attack hasn’t looked this good in a very long time. The team’s amazing transformation under Di Matteo is apparently for real. With Chelsea’s emphatic win over QPR and Newcastle’s surprising loss to Wigan, the Blues are now only one point out of fourth place (behind Tottenham and Newcastle who are tied with 62 points). Newcastle visits Chelsea on Wednesday in what will be another must-win clash for the Blues in their bid to keep Champions League hopes alive for next season. No rest for the weary!
What do you think – has Torres fully recovered his old form?
Chelsea manages 0-0 draw with Arsenal
Yesterday’s draw with Arsenal was better than losing of course, but it sure didn’t do Chelsea much good in their fight for a Champions League spot next season. It’s a strange position for Chelsea to be in, the fact that they’re one game away from the Champions League Final and yet still so far from finishing in the top four in the Premier League. Chelsea is four points behind fourth place Newcastle. That means Newcastle’s trip to Stamford Bridge on May 2 is shaping up to be a major showdown.
Much was made yesterday of Di Matteo’s major lineup reconfiguring against Arsenal. I thought it was a good move, resting some guys before the Barcelona game Tuesday, and helping others shake off some rust. It was particularly good to see Essien and Romeu back in midfield. I actually prefer them to Mikel and Meireles in central midfield roles. I’d like to see Essien start at Barcelona, but Di Matteo will probably go back to Meireles.
Chelsea looked much better than Arsenal for most of the match, but the Blues had a major problem with final third passing and finishing. Torres and Kalou were particularly guilty of this, with Malouda and Sturridge sharing some of the blame (though Malouda and Sturridge have played less lately and might have more of an excuse for lack of game sharpness). Chelsea needs Drogba to be over his knee injury in time for the big Barcelona game, though I still think Torres could be useful in an unconventional (for him) right-wing midfield role.
It’s going to be a suspenseful next three weeks for Chelsea with the Champions League Semifinal at Barcelona, FA Cup Final against Liverpool, and four vital Premier League games remaining! Come on Chelsea!
Will Chelsea finish the Premier League season in the top four?