The Ever Elusive Fourth Place . . .
With just a few games left in the season, it was always going to be a tight race for the coveted fourth place spot, with Newcastle, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham right in the mix. Prior to the Fulham game, Tottenham lost to Norwich, and Newcastle beat Bolton, which meant that if Chelsea beat Fulham, they would move into fourth spot overtaking both Tottenham and Newcastle. Sadly, we could not capitalize on this opportunity and could only muster a 1-1 draw with Fulham.
The starting line up looked strong, with quite a few changes from the Wigan game, understandably so. This is a crucial period in the season with many games congested in a short period of time. With all due respect to Fulham, this was a game that Chelsea should have won. News of Tottenham’s defeat surely would have made its way to the players and they needed to treat this as a must win game. In fact all of our remaining games should be treated as must win games. However I did not notice that attitude from our players. It seems to me that motivation levels have dropped in recent games, the Benfica game, the Wigan game (which we barely escaped with 3 points) and now the Fulham game.
This is where the role of the manager comes in, to motivate the players week in week out and instill the desire to win every single game in them. Sir Alex is a prime example of a manager who has done this for so many years with Manchester United. Seeing that Di Matteo is only an interim manager, I do have the expectations that he will be like Sir Alex, but he seems to be doing a decent job with his team selections, substitutions and tactics. One thing I give him credit for is using the whole squad at his disposal as opposed to casting away certain players like what AVB did.
Moving back to the Fulham game, the points were there for the taking. Fulham did not trouble us much, and we did not seize the opportunity to create enough chances or threaten Shwartzer’s goal. Our defence had a solid game, the only exception was the slack marking on one corner kick which resulted in the Fulham goal. In a game where we had fair share of possession, we simply did not create a threat on goal, and had no urgency whatsoever. I think Sturridge would have made a difference on the left-hand side as Ramires had a bad game by his standards.
So, with a handful of games left and still in contention for a fourth place spot, do I think Chelsea will nick it? Honestly, I think it will go right down to the wire. Arsenal have the easiest fixture list so I fancy them to stay strong in third place or even make a push for second. Tottenham have a very easy fixture list, but they have become unpredictable in recent weeks as has been illustrated by their shock defeat at home to Norwich. Newcastle have a rather difficult fixture list with a visit to Chelsea (which will be crucial) and a game against Manchester City. Finally Chelsea have the toughest list of the bunch with away games against Arsenal and Liverpool, as well as a game against Newcastle. With that being said do I think Chelsea will get fourth place? No. Do I hope to be proven wrong? Yes.