It’s a sad state of affairs when Chelsea fans are looking ahead at August when we are barely into the New Year, but a culmination of crazy decisions and poor performances has left us grasping at thin air for trophies, and one of the remaining two of offer, the FA Cup, was hanging in the balance as we avoided the upset of all upsets against Brentford yesterday.
Ironically it was Fernando Torres who gave us that equalizer, and whilst a few believers may think he will now find the form to fire us to a league trophy, that ship has sailed with me.
‘We don’t care about Rafa, he don’t care about us, all we care about, is Chelsea FC’ is how the song goes, but if us succeeding means Benitez succeeds in the future, I certainly won’t be complaining.
Realism is key from here on in. with just 45 points to our name, and 11 points off the pace, you’d say it was less than likely we will be involved come the final few games, in fact, if we won all 15 games left, we would only trump Manchester City’s winning total from last year by one point; Not exactly encouraging reading.
Despite this, if we carry on our current form of two points per game, we will finish on 75 points, a total that should easily give us third, and a total that is higher than both of the last two seasons, (71,64).
So, on to the FA Cup. With two of the big contenders, Spurs and Liverpool, exiting yesterday, it’s a massive opportunity for us to at least make it to Wembley, if not retain our trophy. Yes, both Manchester clubs made it into the last 16, but out of the last 10 seasons, only one team has managed to win both the FA Cup and Premier League in the same season, and that was us.
With games coming thick and fast, you would expect us to play for the FA Cup that 10% more than both Manchester clubs, who realistically have their own problems to worry about, let alone the huge bragging rights involved. Ok, Manchester City don’t have Europe to worry about, but with the FA Cup semi-final coming directly a week after the big Manchester derby, you can see the problems both face. In fact, don’t tell United fans, but the quarter-final matches are played just 4 days after their vital second leg with Real Madrid, so overcome Brentford and Middleborough, and I don’t mind penciling a date with them now.
Everton are the other team that may well be up for the cup, but after beating them away, and on paper, a class above, you would be comfortable saying, if we can’t beat them in a cup-tie, we don’t deserve to hold on to the cup.
The Europa League may well be an unwelcome distraction, although we did win four straight games following the Club World Cup, I don’t think this group of players hold the trophy high on their agenda, and we may well be facing teams who will give that extra 1% on the field, much as we saw Brentford do to us yesterday.
It would be unfair to say we underestimate teams, as we have shown in the games against Leeds, Nordsjaelland and Aston Villa, that we really can put teams to the sword. However, it is this inconsistency that is key, and that is one thing United and City haven’t done long-term, the main reason we sit out of the title race yet again.
The season certainly is far from over, and with three relegation candidates to play in the next 10 days, we could well be rubbing shoulders with Man City by the time we play them, either that or scratching our heads as we lose another 2 points at the hands of a piece of slack defending.
I will stick my head on the line and say the season lies on the FA Cup now, and with a season and (hopefully) a new manager on the way, we can again start next season with a fresh sense of hope and optimism.
By Bradley Smith