Interim boss Benitez has conceded defeat and admitted that the Blues are out of contention for the Premier League title this season. His comments come ahead of the important home clash against London rivals Arsenal, who can close the gap to within 5 points (with a game in hand) provided they grab a win at the Bridge. Our home form since Benitez took charge does not inspire much confidence, and Arsene Wenger is fully aware of that. The Gunners can smell blood and will no doubt be on the offensive, looking to bounce back from their recent 2-0 defeat to current champions Manchester City.
As well as writing Chelsea off for the League title, Rafa claimed that we should now focus our energy on the cups, with 3 competitions still open to us;
“There are still some trophies to win and we will try to win all of them. In terms of the league I don’t think we can do it, but we have a top side coming this weekend and if we get three points maybe we can be closer. The Capital One Cup is there, the FA Cup is still open and the Europa League is still open."
It could be argued that Rafa has released this statement in order to take the pressure off of Chelsea ahead of an extremely tough test this afternoon. However it could easily prove to be a counter productive move and rather than bring about the desired affect of relieving pressure, it could instead bring about complacency in league games. We don't want the team to start coasting and ease up because they think the title is unattainable, the Blues must keep pushing on until it is mathematically impossible to win the Premier League crown.
None of us want Chelsea to become just a cup team and slip further down the table, winning league titles as well as consistent Champions League football is imperative for a club like Chelsea to continue growing on the world stage. My biggest worry now is that with Liverpool and Arsenal picking up more points, plus Tottenham and Everton hot on our heels, we could fail to qualify for Europe if we're not careful!
It's safe to say if Rafa does not manage to steer us to a top 4 finish this season, then his appointment will be an unmitigated disaster. He has already officially had the worst start as manager in the Abramovic era (tied with AVB), with only a 56% win percentage in his first 16 games (W9 D3 L4).
The Spaniard was first and foremost recruited to bring defensive stability to the team, he was seen as a superior tactician to his predecessor and the man to recreate the rigid defensive Chelsea of old. We all know that RDM was openly criticized for lacking said defensive know how, however funnily enough Chelsea under Benitez have conceded 15 goals in his first 16 games in charge (2nd worst record in the Abramovic era).
Credit where credit is due, under his leadership Chelsea have scored 40 goals in those 16 games, which is 3 more than Scolari, Ancelotti and RDM managed, however that means very little if we aren't closing games out.
Considering the Blues current home form, I would be more than happy with just a top 4 finish this season, the last thing the club needs is a detrimental effect created from the temporary insanity that was Benitez' appointment!
Article by Martin Smith
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