Chelsea’s victory over Rubin Kazan and the subsequent draw which pits Chelsea against FC Basel should provide a feel good factor. After all, if Chelsea reaches the final, Fenerbahce or most probably Benfica, are teams that a fully focused Chelsea should be able to beat in a one off final.
Chelsea faces the significantly more daunting prospect of a semi-final against Manchester City in the FA Cup; a Manchester City team fully rested following their morale boosting victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford last Monday. Victory over City would mean a final against either Wigan or Millwall, both of whom Chelsea would expect to beat.
So potentially Chelsea could be in two major cup finals, in the space of four days in May. For any team this should be the highlight of the season; but in Chelsea’s case it looks like a potential train crash, because of a league schedule that will see them play too many vital games in too short a space of time.
In the worst case/best case scenario Chelsea will lose both semi-finals, enabling them to fit the outstanding home game against Tottenham on 15th May, the night of the Europa League final. That would mean Chelsea playing their last four league games, away to Manchester United, Aston Villa and Everton, plus the Tottenham home game in the space of 20 days. Still a daunting prospect with United looking for revenge following their FA Cup loss to Chelsea, a revived Aston Villa looking for payback after their 8-0 mauling at the Bridge and both Everton and Tottenham, both fighting for a top four place.
However what happens if Chelsea loses to Manchester City but beat Basel to reach the Europa League final? Suddenly there is no obvious date for the Tottenham league game, at least not without Chelsea being forced to play two games within 48 hours of each other.
Then there is the best case/worst case scenario with Chelsea beating Basel and Manchester City, to reach both finals, meaning that the Aston Villa game would be moved from 11th May and both that game and Tottenham would need to be fitted in before the end of the season.
Since the season must finish on Sunday 19th May, this means that those games would need to be squeezed in somewhere, with one of those games likely to take place between the Manchester United league game on the 5th May and the FA Cup final on the 11th.
Chelsea’s schedule if they reach both finals
|Sun 14 April||Manchester City||Wembley|
|Wed 17 April||Fulham||Away||+3 days|
|Sun 21 April||Liverpool||Away||+4 days|
|Thurs 25 April||FC Basel||Away||+4 days|
|Sat 27 April||Swansea City||Home||+2 days|
|Thurs 2 May||FC Basel||Home||+5 days|
|Sun 5 May||Manchester United||Away||+3 days|
|Sat 11 May||FA Cup Final||Wembley||+6 days|
|Wed 15 May||Europa League Final||Amsterdam||+4 days|
|Sun 19 May||Everton||Home||+4 days|
All of these scenarios are daunting, but with Chelsea’s relatively small squad heavily dependent on several key players it becomes an almost impossible task to chase silverware and more importantly a top four place in the league.This would leave the only possible options as being to play Basel on the 25th, Swansea on the 27th another league game on the 29th or 30th before playing the return game against Basel on 2nd May; meaning potentially playing four games in seven days. Other than that it would mean playing a league game 48 hours either side of the Europa League final.But what of the other game?
The importance of those league points carelessly thrown away against Southampton, Reading and Queens Park Rangers mean that there is zero margin for error in the remaining seven league games.
In the perfect situation Chelsea would win both cups and gain a sufficient points total to finish in 3rd place; in the worst case scenario Chelsea could lose both finals and end outside the top four.