Thursday, 27 January 2011

Why Chelsea’s Inconsistent Premier League season will Stem a Good champions League Run

Last season, Chelsea won the title with reasonable comfort. The team hammered their opponents seeing Chelsea score 103 goals. A tidy goal rate one has to say. Chelsea at times were unplayable. But this season, its been a totally different story. Although the team started off where they left of last season with the hammering of both West Brom and Wigan by 6 – 0. Chelsea’s form has stuttered. The Champions went through 6 Premier League matches without winning a game. Chelsea were beaten by the likes of Sunderland at home (actually, they were hammered by Sunderland), and lost away to the likes of Wolves and Birmingham. This poor run by Chelsea allowed Arsenal, Man City and Man United to take extend their leads in the title race, leaving Chelsea far behind.

Chelsea now find themselves, 10 points behind Manchester United. So it’s fair to say, that Chelsea have a minimal chance of winning the title this season. I’m sure Chelsea will be kicking themselves, as they had a 5 point lead at the top at one stage this season. But this poor domestic season could spell success elsewhere.

The one cup Chelsea are craving to win is the European Cup. The players and fans have got so close to putting their hands on the Champions League trophy. In certain respects, the fans and players have been traumatised due to getting so close to winning it but failing on numerous occasions. The final of 2008, which Terry’s unfortunate slip in the shootout, and Anelka’s saved penalty in Moscow saw Chelsea lose the Champions League even though they were in touching distance of the Cup.

The Chelsea’s players and fans have also been traumatised by their Semi Final defeats too. The 2005 Champions League Semi Final’s when Chelsea narrowly lost out to Liverpool with the infamous controversial Luis Garcia goal. Two years later, Chelsea again lost to Liverpool but this time on penalties. However, the most traumatic Chelsea defeat was most probably the semi final against Barcelona in 2009. Chelsea were arguably harshly treated by the referee Tom Henning Øvrebø who turned down 4 feasible penalty calls. And Barcelona later scored the vital away goal in the 93rd minute which ironically, was their first shot on target on the night.

Many of the players, such as John Terry, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Peter Cech have won every cup with Chelsea. Besides the European Cup. This season could possibly be some of these players last chance for European Glory as the average age of the Chelsea team is 31 years old. So the players may have a stronger hunger for the Champions League this season, also the fact the title is out their hands, it gives them more incentive to make their season a success in Europe.

In Carlo Ancelotti Chelsea have a manager with a proven European Cup record. In a five year period with Milan he reached three European Cup finals being triumphant in 2/3 Champions League finals. It’s been widely reported that a driving factor in Roman Abramovich appointing Ancelotti was his European Cup pedigree. This proven record will naturally give Chelsea players and fans belief in Ancelotti’s methods and strategies. The Italian’s calculated tactical strategies suits the European Cup. If Chelsea’s play is analysed it’s apparent that they play in a very measured and controlled manner. Which involves keeping the ball effectively and progressively creating attacks, this strategy is perfect for Europe. And has already gleamed results for him whilst at Milan.

Chelsea’s inconsistent Premier League form will ignite the squad and fans into focusing on the European Cup. If Chelsea are to look back on this season as a success, they must do well in Europe this season. The fans wouldn’t mind seeing their team finishing fourth if it means John Terry lifts the Champions League in May. The one collective craving Chelsea have is the European Cup. The Chelsea players because of their numerous close defeats in Europe need no extra motivation or reminder of the fans desire to see Chelsea lift the Champions League. When Chelsea play to their potential and are fully motivated, they are unplayable.

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