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What does success look like for Chelsea this season?

Right now there is plenty of noise around Chelsea Football Club. Little of it though focuses on the club on the pitch with talk instead centred on one of three things, namely Roman Abramovich, new ownership or Thomas Tuchel leaving his post as manager. 

Here we want to break away from that and instead put our energy into the football. With that in mind, we’ll be looking at what constitutes a successful season for the Blues.

A summer of hope that has slowly slipped away

Rewind to last summer and Chelsea were the Champions of Europe and had just splashed £100m on Romelu Lukaku; the Belgian former Blues man had just lit up Serie A with 24 goals as he fired Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan to the title

The script was written that he’d do the same at Stamford Bridge. Unfortunately, that script never made its way to Lukaku’s door; he’s been somewhere between woeful and an under-par scapegoat depending on how harshly you wish to judge him. What is for sure though is that he hasn’t done what people thought. That said, Chelsea hasn’t been a disaster this season.

In fact, Tuchel’s men actually started the season pretty brightly. After 14 games Chelsea was sitting top of the table and their quest for a title race looked firmly on. Fast forward half a dozen games later though and the Blues had drifted with Man City holding an eight-point lead over them at the and Liverpool having leapfrogged them into second as well. 

That’s large as things stand now; Chelsea holds a game in hand over City and Liverpool. If they win that they’ll be eight off City at the summit and seven behind Liverpool. 

Is a title race still a possibility?

Everyone has written off Chelsea in the title race. Is that fair? Like we’ve touched on, the Blues are – assuming they win that game in hand – eight points behind top spot. With nine games left, mathematically it is possible they go on to win the title. 

A look at their fixtures would have you believe they could make a decent haul of points from those games. However, Bovada betting lines and other bookmakers are already pricing them way too high as an outsider competitor, with City and Liverpool being outright favorites.

In fact, you could make an argument that winning all nine isn’t impossible with the toughest looking games being Arsenal and Man United. The downside to that statement is that football isn’t played on paper and a perfect run over nine games is unlikely. 

Even in a world where the Blues do take 30 points from their remaining fixtures (including that game in hand), they would need both teams above them to drop a fair few points; it doesn’t look all that likely. If Chelsea were sitting in second with the same number of points to make up then, arguably, you could make a case for them making a late title charge. 

With Liverpool and Man City considerably ahead though it simply looks like they’ve left themselves too much to do; title odds of 200/1 would suggest bookmakers firmly agree. The 10 points they’ve given up to the duo above them – two draws versus Liverpool (4 points lost) and two defeats to Man City (6) – look key.

The good news Chelsea fans can take from the above relates to the top four. There was a time when their place in the Champions League next season might come under threat; that’s not the case now. They sit nine points clear of Tottenham in fifth and have a game in hand. A top four finish is nailed on. 

What about the domestic cups?

Chelsea have long been a club that demands trophies. The Premier League crown isn’t coming back to Stamford Bridge this season. So what about the cup competitions? Well, they reached the final of the League Cup after a run that saw them only face Premier League opposition. 

Unfortunately, though, they lost the final on penalties to Liverpool; it will go down in history too as late sub Kepa Arrizabalaga blazed his penalty over the bar to hand the trophy to the Reds.  

The FA Cup has seen Chelsea handed a somewhat easier path to a potential final. They’re due to face Crystal Palace in the semi’s; it will be the first Premier League side they have faced in the competition having seen off Chesterfield, Plymouth, Luton and Middlesbrough to date. 

You would expect the Blues to reach the showpiece game now. Whether they’ll win it or not remains to be seen; assuming they make the final, they’ll meet one of Liverpool or Man City.

What about further afield?

One piece of silverware Chelsea have got their hands on already this season is the Club World Cup. Many people, including ESPN’s former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley, don’t put much stock on that trophy though. That means there are a fair few eggs in the Champions League basket. Chelsea are going strong there though. 

They finished second in their group but advanced comfortably. Following that they’ve made fairly light work of French side Lille with a 4-1 aggregate win; that has seen them reach the quarter-finals.

Waiting in the last eight is Real Madrid. Los Blancos – and in particular Karim Benzema – showed their quality to eliminate PSG in the last round but Chelsea will fancy their chances of advancing; they beat them in last season’s semi-final after all. 

The winners of Chelsea’s QF tie will face the winner of Man City and Atletico Madrid with Liverpool or Bayern Munich likely to be the other semi-final. That means a Champions League winner will be a big ask; it is something nobody fancied the Blues to do last year though so who knows.

The final word

In brief summary, nobody thought Chelsea would be so far off the pace in the Premier League after their investment last season. 

That said, they could still end the season with a top-three finish in the league and potentially with a FA Cup and/or Champions League to boot. They’re Champions of the world right now too. 

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