February was set to be a crucial month for not only Chelsea’s season and aspirations but for Sarri’s tenure and future as well. Thus far, Chelsea have failed to rise to the challenge.
The Blues have been eliminated from FA Cup contention at home by Manchester United, and lost the chance to collect some silverware by falling to Manchester City in the penalty shootout at Wembley on Sunday. And while Chelsea have made it fairly easily into the last 16 of the Europa League, we’ve dropped out of the top four, sitting one place below last year’s fifth place finish.
But all hope is not lost. A chance to salvage the season begins today, on the penultimate day of the month. A win against Spurs may not put Chelsea back in the top four yet (Arsenal play Bournemouth; Manchester United play Crystal Palace), but it’s basically a must-win if we are to do stay in contention in the league and not have to rely on winning a knockout competition to get into next year’s Champions League.
For any of that to happen, unity and belief are necessary. Eden Hazard, rarely perceived as a classic leader, has made it clear that our heads are in the right place ahead of kick-off tonight.
“We are all together. We are all with the manager. I know this month was a bit hard but we need to be together, stay together, if we want to do something at the end of the season.”
“At the moment we have a bit of pressure because the fans want us to be in the top four, but we’re Chelsea and we can deal with the pressure. We will win games and that’s it.”
Spurs broke their 28-year winless streak at the Bridge last season, so it’s time to start the next 28-year streak.
“We are there. This is a hard game but we can close the gap a bit on Tottenham. We have the potential to be in the top four but we don’t have to think about that. We just have to think game after game and try to win one more game.”
As it often happens in time of trouble, the narrative of “player power” has quickly reared its ugly head against at Chelsea — Kepa’s seeming insubordination certainly didn’t help! — but Leader Eden assures that is not the case. Of course, he would never come out and say otherwise even if that were the case, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
“We are playing for [Sarri], the club, the fans and us. It’s not just about the manager. He puts the players on the pitch and then it’s down to the players to take responsibility. On Sunday we played a fantastic game, we need to look at that and try to repeat it. Then the manager will be happy.”
-Eden Hazard; Source: Chelsea FC
So, all the right words. Time for the right actions.