Chelsea have probably ruined any chance they had of defending the Premier League title with an absolutely atrocious start to the campaign, but manager Jose Mourinho doesn't believe that our chances of finishing top four have gone the way of the title...yet. The Chelsea manager attempted to explain the squad's poor start to the season to the club's website ahead of our fifth group stage match:
"I think there are too many games but not just for us, it is for every club which has players involved in every competition - European competitions, domestic competitions, national team players playing World Cups, European Championships, some of them Africa Cups, some of them Copa America. It is difficult to have a good period of holiday and sooner or later you pay the price."
"We decided last summer to give the players a proper holiday. We thought that they did a lot in the previous season and they were involved in consecutive competitions."
"We had players in the Copa America too, players involved in international matches when they should be on holiday, so we decided to give them a proper holiday, believing that the crucial period of the season starts in February. What we couldn't imagine is the pressure of the bad results would push us in the direction of so many bad results."
"Another approach is not to give proper holidays, it is to give them two weeks of holiday and to start the pre-season very, very early and then pay the price later, because there are no miracles, nobody can be 11 months at the top of their form. So I think the teams without so many international players are teams with conditions to have everything."
"They can come into the competition very strong because they start [pre-season] early. They don't have the accumulation of matches during the season so it is another factor reducing the difference between the top teams and the other teams, and allows the other teams to close the gap. I think that is nice but it is more difficult for us."
With the influx of money pouring on the Premier League, the Portuguese manager said at the beginning of the season that one big English club likely wouldn't be qualifying for the Champions League, continuing a trend seen over the past few seasons. Mourinho now wants to guarantee that his past prediction doesn't hit his own team, as he still sees the team with chances of getting a spot in the continental competition through the Premier League:
"Two seasons ago Man United didn't qualify for the Champions league; last year Liverpool didn't qualify for the Champions League, and I said before the season started that another big team will not qualify for the Champions League. We have to make sure that big team is not Chelsea."
"I know how the Premier League is at the moment. It is a completely different reality from years ago. There is this risk."
"How can we qualify for the Champions League? I think we have to fight the next match. Now the next match is in the Champions League and we have to fight this match, believing that it is the way that can take us to Champions League football next season."
"After tonight we will look at the Premier League match against Tottenham and we have to think that with more than 70 points to play for, the Premier League is still a window of opportunity for us to qualify."
-José Mourinho; Source: Chelsea FC official website
Statistically speaking, from 2003 to 2013 a team needed on average 68 points - or 1.8 points per game - to hit 4th place and qualify for the Champions League in England. With 14 points gained in 13 matches, Chelsea would need to get at least 54 points in the remaining 25 league games for the 2015-16 season to hit the threshold.
Can we do it?