Future Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois still believes that Chelsea have what it takes to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, despite a 2-1 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford that not only dropped the Blues out of the top four, but has set up a very tight finish where the team basically need to be perfect to make it back to the Champions League next season.
“[The fight for top four] stays the same, it is tough. City are obviously far away but for the second, third and fourth spot there are five teams so it will be hard until the last match of the season.”
“But I think we have enough quality as we saw on Sunday and we showed it against Barcelona. I think we are a very good team but there are some other good teams around us as well.”
It’s probably more the consistency rather than the peak quality that is the big problem with this edition of Chelsea, and we saw some of that on display on Sunday as well. Chelsea followed up a very good, albeit unlucky first-half with a much worse and still unlucky second.
In the immediate analysis, Courtois didn’t offer any great insight as to what may have gone wrong, but at least he was one of the very few who did stand up to offer a few words after the match to Chelsea TV. Most others just slinked back onto the bus, as if hiding would make the disappointment go away.
“I am very disappointed, I think all the team are. The first half [at Old Trafford] we controlled, we dominated them in their home and we played so well.”
“We scored a goal and then we could have had another one and it is annoying to concede another sloppy goal like on Tuesday against Barcelona. So we went in 1-1 at half-time when we should be leading.”
“In the second half [Manchester United] started to control the game, it was more equal, and I don’t think they really deserved to win more than us. But that is football and the second half they had more chances but we could have won as well.”
Unfortunately you don’t get points for the shoulds and the coulds, only the dos and the donts. And at the final count on Sunday, Chelsea had not done enough to win the game. The effort, the tactics, the motivation — whatever you want to pin this on — was simply not consistent enough.
“They maybe changed a bit so as to not let us so much on the ball. They dropped back and they kept three men up for the counter-attack, so they had seven plus the goalkeeper to defend so it is always dangerous.”
“You have to prepare the counter-attack well, and we did that well in the first half. The second half they tried to have more possession, we tried as well but it was a bit harder - so it was a more equal game.”
-Thibaut Courtois; source: Chelsea FC
After a (rare) week of rest, Chelsea will take a trip back up to Manchester on Sunday to face the baby blue half of the town, current Premier League leaders and basically already champions Manchester City. Victory is unlikely, but there’s always hope.
COME ON, CHELSEA!