With the Premier League title race primarily being a two-horse race at this point with Manchester City and Liverpool having thwarted most gauntlets thrown at them by other sides in the league, there’s a battle for a Top 4 finish brewing between Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea and it looks like a race that will go right down the wire.
Given the sheer unpredictability of the PL, it is no surprise that plenty of betting enthusiasts have lined up to for online betting at LeoVegas.
Like every year, the 2018/2019 Premier League came with its set of vindications and surprises. With the league never being so stocked with top grade managers with varying sets of footballing philosophies at loggerheads with each other, the Premier League has been a full-blown fiesta of engrossing football and some of the greatest tactical battles played in the PL. Unlike other seasons, it is not a given that team at the bottom half of the table are long ball merchants or pretty much limits themselves to defending with 10 men on the ball.
Teams like Everton, Bournemouth and West Ham have turned up with playing some beautiful football of their own this season under the likes of former Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini, Eddie Howe and Marco Silva. Almost every side is replete with some of the best talents in Europe and the TV sponsorship deals has enabled PL sides to flex their muscles in the market like never before.
A lot will be decided about Chelsea FC in few weeks time. Top 4, Europa League success and also FIFA transfer ban. We hope everything comes out positive for us.
We Can Do It 🔵 pic.twitter.com/3rVno01W60
— The 12th Man (@The12thMan_CFC) April 30, 2019
All these things considered, there are some amazingly tight battles ongoing between sides at this juncture of the season, with teams vying for the title or a top 4 finish or a Europa League finish or even avoiding relegation to the Championship- every tier of the table as it stands can experience a seismic shift at any given time depending on a multitude of factors.
It is surprising to see Chelsea sitting 6th in the table, albeit one had them pinned for the title in the first couple of months into the season. This is a classic case of mixed fortunes, with the difference in forms and the aura surrounding the club being night and day. There’s a sense of pessimism amongst the fans, who are used to a constant influx of silverware.
Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s tumultuous yet rewarding tenure has seen them bring in and kick out managers at will whenever things are seen as going downhill. With Chelsea’s fortunes in the league looking pretty bleak this season in the wake of Manchester United’s resurgence under former club hitman Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Mauricio Sarri and his men have a lot of work to do in their bid to acquire Champions League football next season.
Given the importance of CL qualification amongst the big clubs for it brings cash and also lends pedigree to attract or retain the best players out there, there’s plenty at stake for Chelsea. Speculating on their chances of qualifying for the Champions League, therefore, makes for an interesting discussion. We shall dive a little deeper into their season and try to weigh their prospects below.
Chelsea’s run of fixtures
After Eden Hazard managed to save Chelsea from a debacle against Wolves by equalising for it to end in a 1-1 draw, Chelsea has a pretty daunting fixture list considering their lack of form and the prospect of them facing a revitalized Manchester United and title contenders Liverpool away from home.
One wouldn’t be wrong to feel that a draw in both those games would a pretty neat result if they win the rest of their games, but it doesn’t exactly help their chances given the fact that North London rivals Arsenal have a pretty easy fixture list to contend with as they’ve played all their games against the Top 6.
Tottenham might be about to slip but they’re still in it even if Arsenal expectedly leapfrog them and based on history, they just might turn up and lock down on the Top 4 finish which should be the least Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be expecting after their title aspirations were short-lived.
It’s not only the Top 6 sides that Chelsea must worry about, as the away trips to Everton, Leicester and relegation battlers Cardiff shall definitely prove to be challenging as well. It is worth noting that Cardiff aren’t exactly a lost cause in terms of staying in the Premier League, and so the coming run of fixtures would see them try and turn up more and play with greater tenacity. Leicester are on their way up with Brendan Rodgers at the helm as well, so Chelsea aren’t exactly tempting probability with their run of fixtures.
Sarriball or Sorry-ball?
It is worth deliberating upon whether Sarri shall be able to take control of things while he’s the main man at the helm. This is not supposed to be a slight against Sarri, who is definitely a capable manager with a very laudable footballing philosophy. This is more about whether he has control of the dressing room, and if he doesn’t, one can’t really fault him cause comparatively authoritative figures have failed before him.
The player power in Chelsea is so prevalent that a lot of managers, regardless of their credence, they cannot get the players to play if they get on the wrong side. Mourinho and Conte got sacked after title-winning seasons, for instance. There are indications that there’s a rift in the dressing room, with Kepa refusing to come off in their Carabao Cup final against Manchester City. Albeit Sarri and Kepa later gave an alternative account, Sarri kind of confirmed the rift by attempting to quell the flames of rebellion, benching the most expensive goalkeeper in the world for Caballero to take his place.
Tactically, Sarri has more or less stuck to his ways with Jorginho being the focal part of his philosophy with his distribution from deep being so vital that he pushed Kante further up the pitch in a bid to fit him in. Kovacic or Barkley are usually deployed as the third cog of the midfield, usually given the duty to pull the strings and be the ones to deliver the final ball although they’ve failed to come up with the goods on a consistent basis. Hazard remains the main man, although one isn’t sure as to how well he really fits into Sarri’s system. He’s still the talisman and should be the one Chelsea look to when they need something to give.