For many Chelsea fans, this season has been non-existent. After the highs of the Premier League and Capital One cup double last season, many expected the side to do much better. However, in a season where they were as low as 15th, it looks to be a season to forget for the Blues.
Now up to 10th, 11 points off the top four and with only the Premier League to focus on, could Chelsea still make a late fight for Champions League qualification?
With Jose Mourinho sacked, Guus Hiddink has since returned and pulled Chelsea from the brink of relegation, and with the poor form of the teams above them, they could still jump up the table. In fact, they haven’t lost in the league since mid-December – when they lost 2-1 to title favourites Leicester.
Though players like Eden Hazard, Oscar, Diego Costa, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesc Fabregas are all struggling for form and consistency, they are somehow in contention for a shock top four finish. The likes of Willian are responsible for where Chelsea stand: the Brazilian has stepped up to the mark and performed, much to the joy of Chelsea fans.
But like when David Moyes took over Manchester United in 2013, this title winning squad needed more fresh blood and change. Mourinho probably expected for Chelsea to be title contenders again, but somewhere it went wrong, and the big stars did not turn up.
So much was expected of players like Eden Hazard this season, but the draw of moves to big teams, such as PSG and Real Madridm has evidently been too much. Like Cristiano Ronaldo in his last season for Manchester United, he looks like a player wanting to move away.
But now Chelsea fans will be wanting their big players to step up. They may struggle without the services of Diego Costa who finally got his first red card in English football last weekend, but other players will be able to step up. The emergence of Kenedy and Bertrand Traore will hopefully take this opportunity and power Chelsea to victory.
When you look at their next few matches, there are tough games. With their next home game against West Ham, as well as home games against Manchester City, Tottenham and Leicester, they’re going to have to put a solid run of results together if they’re to achieve an unlikely top four finish. But if anyone can pull off a shock result this season, it is Hiddink’s Chelsea.
Their away games aren’t any easier, with matches against relegation threatened Aston Villa, Swansea, Bournemouth and Sunderland. Again though Chelsea’s experience of big games should see them pick up maximum points in at least three of these games.
If Hazard can find any kind of form, Chelsea can be deadly. Stamford Bridge used to be a fortress for the Blues, and if they can restore that fear factor in West London then they’ll be able to finish the season strongly.
Hiddink’s role as manager has propelled Chelsea up the table. Though there is a lot of talk about him retiring and Chelsea getting Antonio Conte, it would be wrong not to consider Hiddink for the full time role this summer.