Funny how things work out in football sometimes. Chelsea dropped two points at Brighton & Hove Albion to begin the slate of the New Year’s Day matches on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw, and that was lamentable.
But a few hours later, Tottenham Hotspur lost to Southampton (and José Mourinho managed to make a clown of himself again, twice, even) and then a few hours after that, Manchester United also lost, to Arsenal of all teams. In the meantime, Wolverhampton Wanderers lost to suddenly resurgent Watford as well.
What that means is that Chelsea actually increased our lead over our main top-four rivals despite dropping points — or to be more accurate, increased our lead over our rivals for the fourth and final top-four spot, since the rest above is practically (and most likely) unreachable.
We could look at this as a negative (opportunity missed to increase the lead even more) or a positive (let-off for another poor performance giving us time to find some consistency). I choose to do the latter because life’s more fun that way.
Sheffield United play later today, away at Anfield, and if they pull off a miracle, they will jump to 5th, just four points behind Chelsea. But that seems rather unlikely, to put it mildly. Of course you never know.
Either way, Manchester United are now five points behind, and Spurs and Wolves six. Arsenal close to within nine, for what it’s worth. This is likely to be a close race all the way to the end, and every little bit, every little point, every little improvement counts. If we can find some consistent quality, we’ve should be able to hang on to this spot to the end.
“We have to find the consistency to win games back-to-back and get this solidity in the second half of the season. We know we have to improve. We are on our way and hopefully we can have a good rest of the season.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC
The Premier League now takes a break for 10 days as we switch gears to FA Cup and, for the final four left in it, League Cup action.
Then we have a few more eminently winnable games against Burnley (H), Newcastle (A), and Arsenal (H) to close out January, before traveling to Leicester City on February 1st.
Onwards and upwards!