Chelsea’s top-four aspirations took a heavy body blow yesterday.
The 3-0 loss to Sheffield United leaves the Blues in third for now, but only 1 point ahead of Leicester City (who play later today, Sunday) and 2 points ahead of Manchester United (who play Monday). There’s a very good chance that by the time Chelsea’s next game rolls around on Tuesday night, we will be down to fifth and out of the top four for the first time since early October.
By then, we also will have known the result of Manchester City’s UEFA ban appeal, which, if successful, would mean that fifth place would be no longer enough to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
So that’s the bad news.
The good news is that Chelsea technically remain in control of our own destiny. With Leicester City and Manchester United facing each other on the final day of the season, if we win our remaining three games, we’re guaranteed a top-four finish.
That may seem like a tall order, but the Blues have bounced back repeatedly from bad results this season already, and two of the three opponents having nothing to play for: Norwich City (Tuesday) have been relegated; Liverpool (Wednesday week) have been confirmed as champions.
Chelsea meanwhile have it all the play for, and if we can’t use that as motivation, then we deserve the incoming proverbial knockout blow. Right, Tammy Abraham?
“It’s disappointing for us to drop points at this late stage but we can’t let it affect us too much. We have important games ahead so we just have to go out there and win every one of them.
“We have to be ready. We have some great sides coming up so we have to put this game to bed and go again, take the confidence from the season we’ve had and go into those games with full confidence.
“It’s all about our reaction in the next game now. We had a disappointing result against West Ham and we reacted well against Watford so we need to do that again.”
Abraham broke a scoring drought earlier in the week, but did not come close to scoring yesterday — and neither did the team, really. Chelsea simply didn’t turn up, and by the time we did, it was far too late and not good enough still.
That won’t exactly fill anyone with great confidence for the task ahead, but somehow we’re going to have to find that belief. Football is a harsh business and for the season to be considered truly a success, Champions League qualification must be achieved.
“[Lampard] let us know how he was feeling after the game [but] we already knew ourselves so there wasn’t much for him to say.”
“In games like this, we know we can’t start slow and that’s what we did. They got an early goal and that boosted them to put in a good performance. We changed our formation at half-time and played a bit better but by then we’d already made a few mistakes and they had scored two goals. We then threw bodies forward and we’re very vulnerable when we lose the ball high up the pitch.
“That’s something we need to improve on. We’re still a young, learning team but if we want to be the best and win titles that’s something we have to manage.”
-Tammy Abraham; source: Chelsea FC