Before the beginning of January, champions Chelsea were third and fighting to at least the end the season as runners ups but a dismal start to the new year has left them out of the Champions League places and with a mountain to climb.
Fourth placed Spurs having played a game more, opened up a 5 point gap between them and 5th placed Chelsea. Chelsea had the chance to cut the gap to two away at the home of the champions-elect, Manchester City. But at the Etihad, Chelsea produced a cowardly performance. Though the scoreline is 1-nil, Chelsea were far from being in the game having failed to register a single shot on target and for the first time in 14 years, lost 4 consecutive away games.
In 14 days, Chelsea have lost twice in Manchester and as a result are languishing in a Europa league spot. A 3-nil home defeat at home against Bournemouth and a 4-1 drubbing at Watford definitely help the champions. And a week from now, Chelsea will face Barcelona at the Nou Camp with Barca having the away goal advantage. At least in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, many would argue that Chelsea were the better team with Willian having hit the post twice before scoring. But Barca equalised following a Christensen error which led to Iniesta assisting Messi, who consequently scored his first goal against the blues and the match ended 1-1 . But before travelling to Spain, Chelsea will face Crystal Palace, a team they have already lost against and a team that beat them at home last season.
But the possibility of winning trophies still remains as Chelsea are still in the fa cup and the Champions league. If Chelsea miss out on the top four, winning the Champions League will create a route for them to get back into next years competition but Spanish league leaders stand in their way. While, Leicester will fight Chelsea in the fa Cup quarter final at the King Power.
Another worry for the champions is misfiring Alvaro Morata. Having failed to score in his last 11 games, Morata is under immense pressure and was dropped against Man City . He also did not start against Barcelona and only hit the post against Manchester United, though one of his strikes was unfairly ruled out. Giroud on the other hand, having signed from Arsenal, had a hand in an assist and scored a goal in the Fa cup but apart from that, hasn’t been used much and from recent games, it seems like Conte prefers a false nine with Eden Hazard over the two center forwards at his dismissal.
So at the moment, the champions look like they will miss out on the champions for the second time in three years but they still have time to salvage this season.
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