For a part of the early season, Chelsea have been a bit behind the eight ball. They haven’t had all the answers and have failed some of the early examinations they’ve had in the quest to be crowned champions of England in consecutive seasons.
Tension has crept into Stamford Bridge and the odd call for Conte to be replaced has been heard. Through all of the indifferent results that saw the Blues lose to the likes of Burnley and bottom-of-the-league Crystal Palace, the damage hasn’t been completely irreparable and they currently sit third, 11 points behind pacesetters City.
Chelsea’s and Conte’s shot at redemption will come over the festive season as the fixture list provides them with a chance to get within touching distance of City. Of their next eight league games, six are against teams in the bottom half which includes playing two out of the three teams that currently occupy the relegation spots. Out of the eight league games coming up, five are at Stamford Bridge. If ever there was a chance for Chelsea to put the foot down, now is the time.
Taking maximum points from the next 24 available is unlikely but not impossible. Hazard’s return to fitness and form has given the Blues renewed hope. The Belgian international has given the team the fluidity they have been missing going forward. If Morata can keep up the good form he has been exhibiting in his debut season in the Premier League then the Blues will be hard to stop. The Spaniard currently has eight goals to his name and is only two shy of leading scorer Mohamed Salah, after the Egyptian scored his tenth goal in the league against Chelsea at Anfield.
It is without a shadow of a doubt that the next few fixtures coming up will be a defining period in Chelsea’s season. The allure of points will have fans expecting the best so any failure to capitalize may well seal Conte’s fate at Chelsea. The Chelsea manager really has it all to gain and lose simultaneously.
The unpredictability of football has the ability to turn the next eight fixtures into potential banana skins but Chelsea normally has a good history of being clinical and finishing off teams they are supposed to. Everyone will be expecting Chelsea to do the required business over the festive season and, as an example, Chelsea are backed at 11/50 to beat Newcastle when they come to Stamford Bridge. The opponents are there for the beating and the chance to gain back the points dropped at the start of the season presents itself enticingly to Conte’s troops.
Premier League leaders Man City have historically been tripped up over the winter and in particular the festive season. If the Blues can capitalize on their fixtures over the next month then the title race could well and truly be blown wide open. Their ambitions to retain their title will receive a massive shot in the arm with a prolonged winning streak. It could be the most wonderful time of the year for Chelsea.