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?
Thoughts on Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Man City and 0-0 draw with Tottenham
After the generally dismal season Chelsea fans have endured, the past couple weeks have been a very welcome respite. Just a month ago, a loss at Manchester City like the one this past Wednesday would’ve seriously irked Blues fans. But there is enough positive afterglow from the Champions League comeback against Napoli to outshine the disappointing loss at Manchester City.
This EPL season was a lost cause for Chelsea long ago. It’s all about Champions League survival now – advancing in the current tourney and qualifying for next season’s edition. It doesn’t render EPL games unimportant of course – a win Wednesday would’ve been very helpful, but yesterday’s clash with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge carried the most significance. Even interim Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo admitted a loss to Spurs might have put next season’s Champions League berth out of reach.
Chelsea and Tottenham played the whole match Saturday like they were afraid to lose. Mission accomplished as neither team scored. The goalless draw was more disappointing than the loss at Man City since no progress was made toward reducing the five point gap separating Spurs (in fourth place) and Blues (in fifth). It was a disheartening missed opportunity for Chelsea. Though there are eight league games remaining, it is a very tall order for Chelsea to overtake Tottenham. Failure to qualify for Champions League play next season would be a huge disappointment. It’s hard to imagine that competition without Chelsea! Still, there are eight games left. Chelsea must take care of business and hope Spurs sputter badly.
Meanwhile, there’s the little matter of Chelsea’s trip to Benfica Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Can’t wait for that one. It’s going to be a suspenseful April for Blues fans!
What do you think – will Chelsea earn a Champions League slot for next season?