With the season just around the corner, the time is right to provide some fixture analysis:
Most of us know how important fixtures play in any team’s preparations for the season, a Sheffield Wednesday fan for example could not possibly hope for anything better than 90 minutes of admiration for the other team they played, whether it is Chelsea or any other big club – too expect a win would surely be too much to ask for.
The Premier League fixtures are now out, and here is my take on whether the Blues can win the title back from Manchester United.
Pre-season: With pre-season almost finished AVB takes the team to Scotland, where Chelsea take on Rangers at Ibrox in a friendly on the 6th of August. This is followed by the mid-week International friendlies where we can only hope that nobody gets injured.
There seems to have been be too much travelling before the season actually kicks off, just one home match would have been nice.
August-September: There are six matches, we start off with an away trip to Stoke where it is important to get off to a winning start. Then a big worry comes on the 18th September, when the team goes to Old Trafford to take on United. The other fixtures are quite straightforward, we face West Brom, Norwich, Sunderland and Swansea – Should we win five of these, then we will be in the driving seat.
My Opinion: We will five out of six games, which is a real must if we want to have a real shot at the title.
October-November: In previous seasons Chelsea have struggled in November, and I think this trend is bound to be broken as we face Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool and Wolves. Meanwhile, October could be tricky as we face Bolton, Everton, Arsenal and local rivals QPR whose fans will be keen to get one over us.
My Opinion: Whilst wins against Bolton and Everton would put us in a comfortable position, victories against ‘Pool and Arsenal would be the icing on the cake but the occasional hiccup will not hurt us too much as long as we take care of the Bolton and Everton games.
December: The deciding month!?!?! The busy December sees us take on the Magpies (A), Manchester City (H), Wigan (A), Spurs (A), Fulham (H) and Villa (H). Needless to say this is a tough set of fixtures during this period, and I would not be surprised if we dropped points.
My Opinion: Unfortunately, I cannot see this month being particularly lucrative when it comes to points gained, a very tough month.
January-February: A period that every Blues fan will be looking forward to as we will play Wolves, Sunderland, Norwich and Swansea in January. In February, there only three games, but they could cause us problems as United come to town. The other games see us play Bolton and Everton.
My Opinion: The Chelsea-United fixture at Stamford Bridge will be very important, it is likely to once again be a six-pointer.
March: A month with five games, we should beat the likes of West Brom, Stoke and Villa but could struggle against City(A) and Spurs(H) who could both be battling for the Championship.
April: As the business end of the season comes into to play, there will be a lot to smile about with games against Wigan(H), Fulham(A), Newcastle(H), Arsenal(A) and QPR(H). Whilst the latter two could be difficult, if we are serious about winning the league these are games that we will need to win.
My Opinion: It looks harder on paper that it actually will be, Newcastle looks tricky but we know how badly they struggle as the season reaches its’ climax and the same applies to Arsenal.
May: Liverpool(A) and Blackburn Rovers(H) conclude the season, the trip to Anfield will be crucial, a deja vu to the double winning season.
Conclusion: Can we do it? The first six fixtures are vital, we MUST win those games allowing us a cushion for the very difficult games in December. We cannot afford to slip up in January or February, and finally, not dropping points at Craven Cottage and Emirates in April would probably ensure our fourth league title.
By Abhishek Easwaran