It’s December and you know what that means: frickin’ festive frickin’ fixture frickin’ fun time! A merry time in which the Premier League schedule is jam-packed for television and captive audience reasons while lungs, tendons and important bones in participating players cry out in anguish.
The table typically shuffles quite a bit during this period — an injury here, a yellow card accumulation suspension there, an underdog punching up here, a suddenly misfiring big club there — so it’s never really wise to go into it having lost three points to a team nearer the bottom of the table than the top.
Thanks to Chelsea’s recent, well, whatever that was, against West Ham, they’ve done just that.
”Absolutely, tough times really test your character. Things aren’t going amazing, I would say this isn’t the worst thing so we just have to go on but now luckily in this league, we get another game midweek so we get a chance to redeem ourselves.
”It was a pretty crazy game midweek and then coming here we really wanted a good result, we came out with a lot of energy and did some things well but we just didn’t have that finishing touch. It felt like a little something was missing.”
That “little” something of course could be the slight 6’3 figure of the joint second-highest scorer in the league. Despite backup backup striker Olivier Giroud’s constant complaining to French journalists every international break, he managed just two shots all match, both closer than the penalty spot, with one saved and one missed.
”Of course, he [Abraham] has done well for us this season but we have other guys who can step up. Oli trains great and he’s a great player - he was a bit unfortunate so we’ll see.”
”I mean we have different guys who can come in, we had the fresh guys come in. We have a full squad and a very fit squad so it shouldn’t be an issue.”
Lampard tried to bring some players in from the proverbial cold (Pedro, Giroud) while giving others some rest and/or additional recovery time (Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kanté, Callum Hudson-Odoi), but whether rust or poor luck, or a sloppy brown goo of the two mixed together, it didn’t work out.
So now Frank’s Baby Blues face not only a tough stretch of matches, but a need and responsibility to rebound and show the last two months — October and November — weren’t a mirage.
”In the season, that is what happens, there are ups and downs. We have had a few months now where people have said how well we’ve done and how everything has been going great, and I wish it would stay like that the whole year but it’s not the case, so now a couple of tougher results and we just have to go try and turn it around.”
Me too, Christian. Me too.
One thing that has been very weird this entire season is Chelsea’s form at home. As a player, Frank Lampard and Co. built Stamford Bridge into a fortress. Most teams hoped to keep the scoreline out of the realm of embarrassment, while bolder ones hoped for a point. Winning was entirely out of the question. Those days are rather far away now, but it is still odd that a team that can come to your home and stomp all over your couch can’t have a similar sort of fun in their own backyard.
”We’ve wanted to do much better at home this season. Our away form has been great but at times at home it has been tougher, we’ve had some good games but it is just about the fact that we want to do it in front of our fans as well.”
”That is the thing you can’t [explain it] really. You’d think it would be the other way around. It is a bit strange. I guess I don’t know. Maybe it is just putting ourselves under a bit more pressure than we need to at home, who knows?
”We want to go out and get results wherever we play. We come out with the same energy and we hope that we can turn it around here.”
–Christian Pulisic; source: Goal
Chelsea now faces four games in ten days: three in the Premier League — Aston Villa (h), Everton (a), Bournemouth (h) — and an absolute must-win against Lille at home in Champions League competition. Each one of those teams will be looking at West Ham as inspiration for a result, it would be in the boys’ best interest to send a strong counter-message this Wednesday.