Chelsea’s been in pole position for a top four finish since the end of the 2019 calendar year, but the club needs consistency to finish there.
The race for the UEFA Champions League spots is heating up in the Premier League with Chelsea in the hunt. Further, Manchester City’s future in Europe is hanging in the balance, opening up the door of opportunities for other teams. If the ban is upheld, the team finishing in fifth will likely go to the premier European competition next season.
With four weeks to go and many teams fighting for European places facing off against each other, any let ups can be extremely costly. Leicester City, Manchester United and Wolves are primary rivals for Chelsea as far as the top four is concerned. Mixed forms of the teams involved suggest everything will be up for grabs in the last round when Chelsea hosts Wolves and Leicester hosts Man United.
Since the Premier League’s restart, Man United has scored more points than any other top four battling side—then comes Chelsea, Wolves and Leicester, in that order. If the current form is to continue, Chelsea and Man United will finish inside the top four. However, even a small mistake can spoil Chelsea’s ambitions.
The performance against West Ham United was such a match. Despite being in control, mistakes at the back cost the Blues all three points. Even though they came back with a convincing victory over Watford, they had to dig deep to come away with three points against Crystal Palace. If it was not for Kurt Zouma’s outstanding last-minute tackle, it would have been another case of points dropped.
At this stage, when matches are coming thick and fast, the players need to be mentally prepared for every scenario. Until Wilfried Zaha’s goal, Chelsea had everything under control. Once the goal went in, doubts started to creep into the players’ minds and the south London club grew in confidence. A few of Billy Gilmour’s passes were misplaced, and he was targeted by Palace players. Until Jorginho was introduced, Chelsea was struggling to get hold of the ball.
Tammy Abraham was brought on to use his fresh legs and youth to hold up play up top and see it through. Even though he scored the winning goal, there was a moment late in the match when he did nothing, despite losing the ball. At the same time players like Christian Pulisic, Willian, Cesar Azpilicueta and Mason Mount were running up and down despite starting all the previous matches.
The terrible form of Kepa Arrizabalaga gives the opposition players courage to give it a go at the goal from seemingly anywhere on the pitch. The inconsistent form of the centerbacks at Chelsea does not help him either. There is more chance of opposition scoring than Chelsea clearing the ball during a set-piece, which is not a good sign. Meanwhile, the form of Willian, Pulisic and Giroud is an encouraging sign for Frank Lampard.
The Blues need to correct the rest as soon as possible. There is not a lot of time available before the start of the new season and Chelsea needs to make the most of its opportunities going forward. If nothing else, to secure top four.