The defending Premier League champions’ summer signings didn’t really boost the side in the way that was expecting, with the likes of Alvaro Morata and Tiemou Bakayoko still finding their feet.
Antonio Conte has been vocal with his criticism of the board, something that is often an example of a sinking ship. They were dumped out of the Champions League by FC Barcelona, although they were in no way embarrassed by the Catalan giants.
However, there are still some reasons for optimism. They have been made favourites with most bookmakers for the FA Cup at 13/8 (although some betting companies are offering 7/2) ahead of Spurs (2/1) and Manchester United (9/4). They also have an outside chance of the Top 4, despite being five points behind Spurs in fifth place.
It is that top-four place that concerns us here. United (1/100), Liverpool (1/14) and Spurs (1/8) are all small prices to secure a Champions League spot, but Chelsea FC still offer a bit of value at 3/1 (William Hill), especially when you can get free bets for UK football.
First of all, Chelsea will host both Liverpool and Spurs at Stamford Bridge, offering a good chance to rein in their rivals. But secondly, there is a case to made for some sort of capitulation from the clubs above Chelsea.
Gap to Chelsea – nine points
Man United fans would have been uncomfortable watching Jose Mourinho’s post-match interview after the 2-0 FA Cup win over Brighton. Mourinho criticised his players in a heated and, seemingly, ill-advised tirade. Rumours of a falling out with Paul Pogba have also dogged the Portuguese manager. It has all the hallmarks of the beginning of the end for Mourinho, reminiscent of his final seasons at Madrid and Chelsea. Results could suffer.
Gap to Chelsea FC – seven points (one extra game played)
If Chelsea FC win their game in hand and defeat Liverpool at Stamford Bridge (May 5) that gap could be just a single point. But it is the Champions League exploits that might help The Blues bridge the gap to Liverpool FC. The Reds are one of the very best attacking sides in Europe. However, the squad is very, very thin. Can they continue operating Klopp’s pressing tactics at full throttle for the remainder of the season? There may be some very tired players in red by the time that fixture against Chelsea comes around.
Gap to Chelsea – five points
Spurs will have to play the majority of the rest of the season without their best player and talisman Harry Kane. Mauricio Pochettino does not seem to have much faith in Fernando Llorente, so much will depend on Son Heung-min. The South Korean is in brilliant form, but he does not always offer the consistency of Kane. The upcoming clash against Chelsea FC on April 1 will be crucial. Spurs’ record away against the big six sometimes gets overlooked, but it is, in fact, dismal. If Chelsea FC win, those odds of 3/1 will be slashed.
In the end, Chelsea FC will have to be almost perfect to catch one or more of their rivals over the course of the next couple of months. But the above does serve to highlight that all is not rosy with the three teams above them. If one or more stumbles, The Blues could capitalise.
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