It is no secret to Chelsea fans just what a huge effect Jose Mourinho can have when he takes control of a football club. The special one came to Stamford Bridge back in 2004 and brought immediate success with him, claiming Chelsea’s first top flight title in 50 years, so it is no surprise that the bookies have shortened the odds on the Blues winning back the Premier League title considerably this season.
There are two different stories doing the rounds about the future look of the Chelsea strike force and both cannot be true. It seems to boil down to whether Fernando Torres is still at the club next season. If he is, then it seems as if Radamel Falcao will not be coming to Stamford Bridge, because the Colombian striker does not want to share his duties with Torres.
This season, Chelsea have primarily used the single striker, supported by the creative attacking skills of Juan Mata, Oscar, Hazard and others, so it would be Falcao or Torres or Demba Ba. This might not be the case with the new manager, however, so whoever it is (Jose Mourinho) needs to talk to Falcao.
Chelsea go into a vitally important two weeks standing on the verge of having either a very good season, or a pretty disastrous one. Having already reached the semi-final stage of both domestic cup competitions, the Blues went one step further this week by reaching the final of the Europa League.
A victory against Benfica in Amsterdam on May 15th will give Chelsea a second successive European trophy in two seasons, but that must be seen as a bonus, according to the man probably most responsible for Chelsea’s recent success, Juan Mata. The Spaniard has been nothing short of brilliant again this season and has helped the new Chelsea players like Oscar and Hazard to settle quickly.
Chelsea have still got eight games to play this season. That includes the Europa League final at the Amsterdam Arena in Holland on May 15th. To get there, the Blues have got to get past the Swiss side Basel that knocked Tottenham Hotspur out in the last round. They are a good side, but Chelsea are better and have got the added bonus of Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole returning from injury.
The Chelsea players have got to pick themselves up quick. There is no time to feel sorry about missing out on another FA cup final, because there is still the important matters of the Europa League and the race for a top four spot in the Premier League. The fact that there is no time to sit around and mope about the disappointing defeat to Man City on Sunday is probably a good thing, and the team must just focus on the remaining games.
There was just one thing that put a negative on yesterday’s win over Manchester United. With the mammoth fixture list facing the club, the sight of Ashley Cole limping off holding his hamstring was the last thing we needed. The injury is not as bad as first feared, however, and the England left back should return in a couple of weeks.
It seems unlikely, though, that Cole be able to take part in the next FA cup game, against Manchester City at Wembley stadium on Sunday April 14th for a place in the final. Gary Cahill is also likely to miss that match, but both players should be back around that time or soon after.
Rafa Benitez is not exactly the most popular Chelsea manager ever, but the fans have relented a little on him recently. His comments and statement that he would definitely be leaving the club at the end of the season have drawn an uneasy truce, but if Chelsea go out of the FA cup against Manchester United today after resting key players and losing to Southampton, he will get dog’s abuse.
Chelsea began the hugely important and potentially pivotal run of six games in 16 days in the worst way yesterday with defeat away to Southampton. Rafa Benitez made a number of changes to his starting line up, obviously with one eye on tomorrow’s FA cup replay against Manchester United. There would have been no problem if the Blues had won, but Benitez is now facing more anger from Chelsea fans who feel that he is prioritising winning a trophy to put on his c.v.
“We had to manage the squad,” said Benitez.
The Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has been speaking about his captain John Terry, and has revealed that the 32-year old defender has overcome his recent fitness problems. Chelsea have a very heavy fixture list and some vital games coming up, so the availability of Terry will be a huge boost.
Tomorrow’s trip to Southampton is the first of six games for the Blues in 16 days, and these include FA cup and Europa League games and a possibly crucial encounter with Tottenham in the Premier League, so Benitez is going to have to do some of the tinkering that he is infamous for.
The experience of Frank Lampard could be invaluable for Chelsea tonight, as the midfielder will not allow his team mates to take Steaua Bucharest lightly at Stamford Bridge. The Blues need to be especially careful not to concede a goal, because the away goal rule could then cause real problems.
“Steaua are a good team,” said Lampard. “They are technically good on the ball, which most European teams are when you get to this stage of a competition and it will be a tough game, simple as that.
“It was a very difficult pitch out there and our pitch will be better.