A dozen matches unbeaten, including three wins on the bounce had us dreaming again. Dreaming of a massively unlikely top four finish, dreaming of the Champions League qualification that entails, dreaming of a sense of normalcy in this most abnormal of seasons. We had all written the top four off many moons ago, but we were dreaming once again.
And then. Stoke. 1-1. Once again, it's the hope that kills ya.
Even before Saturday's disappointing draw — 7 of Chelsea's 10 draws have under Hiddink — Chelsea would've basically needed to run the table and win 9 of the last 10. Not an insurmountable task, possibly, given that all of our home games were against teams above us in the table, while most of the away ones were against teams in the relegation dogfight. And I suppose if we do win all 9 remaining, we'd still end with 67 points and that could just be enough. But enough with such silliness.
"Fourth place is difficult, almost impossible, especially when other teams are also knocking on that door."
"We have win all the games but we came from December when we were one point from the relegation zone to get safe and to the middle of the table in a relatively short time. By normal Chelsea standards this is not enough but if we can go into a beautiful March and April in the Champions League and FA Cup, that would be nice."
-Guus Hiddink; source: Chelsea FC
Saturday's starting lineup had one eye on Wednesday's PSG match already, with Diego Costa and Cesc Fàbregas both rested. Should they both continue their good form, we should easily have a goal or two or three in our future. The defense will be more concerning (7 straight games without a clean sheet now), but we'll just have to summon some European night at Stamford Bridge magic and hope for the best.