With the top of the Premier League looking very much like a two-horse race by the middle of the season, Chelsea’s strong start has dwindled and a win is deeply unlikely at this point. With the blues still well-placed in the Europa League, the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, however, there’s still a lot left on the table and a solid chance for Chelsea to bring home some silverware. We’ll take a look at where they should be focusing their energy for the second half of the season.
The Premier League
The top of the Premier League has proved, as many predicted, a tough place to be this season. Many clubs are richer than ever thanks to increases in revenue from television rights and merch sales, and previously second tier clubs Tottenham and Manchester City have parlayed that newfound wealth into teams that have consistently kept them in the top four.
As of the middle of January Liverpool are solid favourites and if anyone’s going to snatch the league away from them at this point it’s Man City. There’s not a lot between Tottenham in third (with 48 points) and Chelsea in fourth (with 47) at the time of writing, leaving room for some jostling in the bottom half of the top four, but a League win is all but impossible at this point.
Still, Chelsea should concentrate on staying up there. Fifth place Arsenal are lagging six points behind, but Chelsea’s next fixture is against the Gunners so a chunk of that lead is very much up for grabs on Saturday. A loss will narrow the gap while a win will put the Blues further outside Arsenal’s grasp. A respectable third or fourth place won’t hurt going into next season, so the Blues will be doing everything they can to fend off their rivals.
The FA Cup
With a Premier League victory out of reach, Chelsea will be extremely keen to hold on to the FA Cup. They convincingly knocked Nottingham Forest out of the running in the last round, continuing an unbroken run of third round victories that dates back to 1997/98.
Several missed goal opportunities, however, leave open a question that has only been heightened by Fabergas’s confirmed move to AS Monaco – who will score goals for Chelsea? Leandro Parades and Nicolo Barella are the two players who have been linked most closely to a move to Stamford Bridge, but the I’s remain undotted and the T’s uncrossed. If Jorginho takes a hit, things will be looking tough up front for Chelsea.
Still, the blues are second favourites to win the cup at 5/2, odds that look pretty good on a bet calculator.
The Carabao Cup
Honestly, a lot of Chelsea fans will be glad to see the Carabao Cup resolved one way or another come February. With the FA Cup and Europa League very much still on the table and a top four spot to fight for in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup is rounding out an overly-packed fixture list.
Still, while Tottenham took the first leg of Chelsea’s semi-final, it was a hard fought match and it’s certainly worth a last push (or two).
The Europa League
Even after a less than ideal first half of the season, Chelsea’s pedigree still holds them a cut above the competition in the Europa League. They started the season as tournament favourites and it’s a competition that often sees its early favourites win out. They dominated their group and while other early favourites Arsenal are still looking reasonably strong the other early competition, Marseille and Lazio, have crashed out and put in a wobbly performance respectively.
As it stands, Chelsea are current favourites with the bookies, followed closely by Arsenal with Napoli and Inter Milan a little way behind. The Europa League is far from sewn up, but Chelsea are in a strong position and could comfortably use a tournament win to boost them back into the Champions League next year.
Chelsea still have strong chances to bring home some silverware in all three tournaments, but with a packed schedule and battles on four fronts many fans will be relieved to see the Carabao Cup resolved.