The good news is that Chelsea are still in the FA cup and the Europa League, as well as being in a qualifying position for the Champions League next season. The bad news is that the fixture congestion from the cup competitions is causing serious difficulties, and there are ructions in the dressing room.
Rafa Benitez was not happy with the performance of his players at the weekend as they lost at Manchester City, and his criticism has caused a training ground argument with some senior players, according to stories in today’s papers. The problem for the players is that they are tired, having already played more games than the other Premier league teams. The fixture list only looks like getting worse, however, and one more replay due to a draw at Middlesborough tomorrow could be the tipping point.
Obviously Benitez wants to win something this season, as do the players, but he must also focus on finishing in the top four. So he has got a real dilemma over resting players and judging which games are most important. It might be time to play a second string side in one of the cup games, but you saw what happened when Arsenal did that, it is not good for team morale. Now Arsenal have only the league to focus on and they are just two points behind us, while Tottenham went above us last night.
Benitez is walking a tightrope, and now is the time he wants the team to stick together, but instead he has managed to upset the players and cause a rift. Chelsea need to sort themselves out, and quickly.