Forgot Password

 

Register

 

Create your Connect ID

This will allow you to login to all DStv websites & applications




or
Login using
x

Email Reset

 




Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Barclays Premier League

Tough times ahead for Chelsea



Their Champions League defence over before it even began, Chelsea must now try to salvage a season that threatens to unravel before their eyes.

Wednesday's 6-1 win at home to FC Nordsjaelland was not enough to carry the Blues into the last 16 and the consolation of a Europa League berth is likely to be viewed as a booby prize at Stamford Bridge.

Owner Roman Abramovich has not invested his millions to see Chelsea compete in a second-tier tournament and interim manager Rafael Benitez will find it difficult to juggle his resources between competitions.

Benitez's popularity will not have been helped by Chelsea's ignominious exit from the competition they won less than seven months ago, but the Club World Cup provides an immediate opportunity to move forward.

After visiting Sunderland on Saturday – a game Benitez described as "my only target" – Chelsea fly to Japan, where they will start as favourites to win a tournament in which they have never previously competed.

Benitez prevailed in the inter-continental contest in 2010 with his previous club, Inter Milan, and success could buy him time with the sections of the Chelsea support who have vowed never to accept him.

However, the timing of the Club World Cup, which concludes just before English football's hectic Christmas schedule, means Chelsea face a gruelling end to the year.

Starting with either the final or the third-place play-off in the Club World Cup on December 16, they will have to play seven times in the space of just 22 days.

With a small core of only 13 players who have started more than five league games this season, it threatens to leave Benitez's squad gasping for breath.

Chelsea hope to welcome stalwarts John Terry and Frank Lampard back from injury soon, but although the return of two such strong personalities will inevitably galvanise the squad, it also raises thorny questions.

With Terry 31 and Lampard 34, neither player can be said to represent Chelsea's future, but Benitez's interim status makes it difficult for him to adopt a long-term strategy concerning the team's evolution.

His two immediate predecessors – Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo – both failed to handle the transition from old to new, and with Benitez keen to land the role on a permanent basis, he may not be inclined to take risks by marginalising influential players.

Fernando Torres scored twice in the Nordsjaelland rout but his dismal form has become synonymous with the club's recent struggles, and with Daniel Sturridge reportedly angling for a move away, Chelsea appear set to move for a striker in the January transfer window.

Atletico Madrid's all-action Colombian centre-forward Falcao has been touted as a likely target, but he will not be cheap and Abramovich has already invested heavily in pre-season.

The 3-1 loss at West Ham United on Saturday marked Chelsea's seventh league game without a win – their worst sequence in 17 years – and the two Manchester clubs are already galloping into the distance.

Chelsea trail champions Manchester City by seven points and leaders Manchester United by 10, but Benitez says his absolute priority, first and foremost, is to improve performances on the pitch.

"At the moment, we just have to look at the game in front of us and what we need to do to win it, then we look at the next game, and then the next," he wrote in his programme notes on Wednesday.

"That is how you have to focus – if we begin to improve the things we are trying to do on the pitch, then the results will improve and things will start to look more positive."

Shop

Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
R152.00
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R182.00
FIFA 14
Xbox 360
R549.00
Mitre Ultimatch Soccer Ball - White
A high quality football, offering high performance at both training and during football matches.
R252.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Live Video Streaming

Football's Greatest Managers - Sir Alex Ferguson
Gymnastics - Artistic: Men's Rings Final
SS5
Thu, 31 Jul @ 05:59
Athletics - Day 5 - H\L

Sports Talk



Calvin Emeka Onwuka
Football arms race
Those of us old enough to remember the arms race and the cold war years can’t help but feel the...

Dr Errol Sweeney
World Cup refs return home 'battered and bruised'
The World Cup is over for another four years and already the post mortem has started into some...

Sunday Oliseh
What Germany did to become champs
The 2002 Japan and South Korea World Cup saw the Germans lose in the Finals to Brazil, thanks to...

Collins Okinyo
Amrouche is his own worst enemy
Thunder has struck twice with news of Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche being slapped with a...

Claudia Ekai
Save our Stars
First and foremost, it is not all over for Harambee Stars in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations...

Carol Radull
The Harambee Stars' secrets
A week ago Kenya’s Harambee Stars hosted Burundi in our first international friendly this year. I...