Chelsea FC: Champions into Kingmakers
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on March 2, 2016
Chelsea Football Club. Champions set to become ex-champions with the Blues’ title defence set to be the WORST defending champions since David Moyes’ Manchester United of 2013-2014. So, why are the title holders still laughing? Shouldn’t the whole footballing nation be stopping and pointing at laughing at the oil rich title flops? Well, no. No they shouldn’t. Chelsea FC are soon to be the dejected, deposed champions… but they are the kingmakers.
For one to be a kingmaker, they are to bring leaders to power through the exercise of political influence. Let’s bring this into footballing terms: to be a kingmaker in football, a team has the influence, through their fixture run in, to ultimately decide who will be standing on the title plinth come the final day of the season.
Chelsea fit into this category very well. Their last 10 fixtures of the season may ultimately decide many factors in the Premier League; with Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Arsenal all clamouring to claw Chelsea’s title away from their feeble hands. Not only that, but the run in can also have a substantial impact down at the bottom of the table (a place where Chelsea were hovering before Christmas themselves).
What are the fixtures?
Okay, let’s dissect the CRUCIAL games Chelsea play from now to May 24th. Note some of the fixtures are set to change (through TV and potential FA Cup participation).
April 2nd 2016: Aston Villa v Chelsea
In the penultimate month of the season, the Blues open up April with a tricky trip to Aston Villa. Well, not tricky anymore; the Villans, whom are engulfed in a near cataclysmic civil war, are almost condemned for relegation to the second tier for the first time EVER, and Chelsea (considering the shambolic form Villa possess) may deal them one of the final blows.
This kicked off Guus Hiddink’s first spell at Chelsea in the Premier League back in 2009, where the clash between the two Champions League contenders ended in a 0-1 victory for Hiddink. The stark juxtapose is that the 2016 edition could kick off the official relegation preparations for Remi Garde’s lily-livered excuse of a football team. And just flashback to 2009 then come back to 2016…how times have changed- dramatically.
9th April 2016: Swansea v Chelsea
The last time the two faced each other in a showdown in South Wales, the once champions-elect Chelsea had stormed to an emphatic 0-5 victory- deemed ‘one of the most complete Premier League performances ever’- against a European dreaming Swansea City.
This time, again in one of the most exciting months of the Premier League campaign, Swansea are also in the midst of a constant oscillating relegation scrap. With the fixtures looking favourable for the Swans, a potential safety slam-dunk match against Chelsea- with the Blues seemingly playing for nothing presumably- Swansea’s date of safety may be decided by the Blues. And on the flip side, granting a tragic dip in form on Swansea’s part, Chelsea may deal a blow to Swansea’s survival hopes.
16th April 2016: Chelsea v Manchester City
This spring evening will see Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since the 5-1 mauling in February (albeit in the FA Cup, albeit on the virtue that City played a severely weakened side) and with something to actually play for this time- this thrilling clash between the current and former champions may have a barometer on whether Pellegrini’s bow-out ends in a second league title in three seasons.
Setting up for an absolute humdinger of a crescendo for Pellegrini’s City exit, Chelsea will be more than keen to avenge the 3-0 decimation back in August; the first obvious sign of Mourinho’s men cracking under the title hear just two games in. City may be quite off the pace, but it’s not like the noisy neighbours in Manchester haven’t been in this position before; they were 8 points off in 2011/12 in the closing weeks to end up dramatically winning the title and despite being top for not even a month’s worth of days in 2013/14, Pellegrini won his first league title in England.
The battle of the billionaires will be a real intriguing clash and City must win at the Bridge surely to keep their hopes alive. Rule number one: to be the big team, beat them.
2nd May 2016: Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur
This game reeks of Crystal Palace v Liverpool back on 2014; Liverpool, just like Spurs at the moment rather surprisingly, the title favourites travelled to a languishing ‘near nothing to play for’ with a victory meaning the title was all but sealed. Regarding the 2016 clash between Chelsea and Tottenham, also on a Monday night like the Palace-Liverpool thriller, this is the antipenultimate fixture.
Tottenham by this time could set themselves very prettily at the summit- MoPo’s men are clear favourites now to lift both his and Spurs’ maiden Premier League title- and I wouldn’t argue the case against that. A team blended with youth, creativity and winning games rings the bells of Fergie’s infamous Class of ’92 are well in the hunt and surely the Monday night in May is viciously marked in red permanent marker.
Chelsea- who have an excellent record at home against Tottenham in the league- may be in the hunt for the Europa League spots; the Blues are in possession of an impressive ELEVEN match unbeaten streak and considering that we’re showing shades of the champions that once were, Spurs’ emotions and bottle will be severely tested. This is a big day in the title race- and a Chelsea victory would not only send Spurs sinking, but could blow this ever changing title race back open.
7th May 2016: Sunderland v Chelsea
Chelsea could be the Grim Reaper of the Premier League; come the 7th of May, Chelsea may have killed off Pellegrini’s hopes of landing the title and stifled Spurs chances tooand next on the hit list could be Big Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland- Chelsea may relegate the Black Cats with the touch of death.
Look at Sunderland; deep in the relegation mire, looking up rather than down (not in the good sense) which means come this showdown at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland’s Premier League status may be hanging by a mere cigarette paper.
Compared to the champions, whom have been on the receiving end of Sunderland survival resurgences (most notably Sunderland ending Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten league streak at home to ensure safety and devastate Chelsea’s title dream) and if they aren’t careful, Sam Allardyce may toast staying up come that evening.
However, with every heads comes a tails. Chelsea’s kingmaker status and this touch of death could be bared for all to see; should Sunderland keep languishing near the depths of the top flight trap door, Chelsea may have the boot on to kick them down. After all, revenge is a dish served cold.
It’s like the poetic forces in this world have a script perfectly sorted for the amazing, heart-stopping, spine-tingling crescendo to the Barclays Premier League season.
Claudio Ranieri, manager of the surprise package Foxes, returns to his former side Chelsea on the last day of the season with the opportunity to LIFT the trophy aloft…and Chelsea fans wouldn’t mind that. Ranieri, who has led Leicester into a shock title fight alongside perennial bottlers Arsenal, a backward stepping Manchester City and a title race debutant Tottenham may emerge triumphant and with Chelsea having already played two of the contenders in the final sprint- a famous win at the Bridge may not be the only way the Foxes lift the league.
This whole ‘last laugh’ hypothesis is conclusive already when it comes to Ranieri and Chelsea- with his Leicester side gunning Chelsea down 2-1 at the King Power (ending up in enemy Mourinho being sacked) but surely it would be poignant that the man who was backstabbed by Chelsea’s board back in 2004, would lift Chelsea’s trophy…at Chelsea. One can only define that as a massive two fingers and raspberry blowing to Roman Abramovich.
Hiddink would bow out at the Bridge too- so the end to his second spell surely won’t end with a whimper. It all shapes to be a magnificent finish to the season- especially the final day Stamford Bridge showdown- and Chelsea, the Kings, would be the kingmakers.
The last laugh?
Having considered the crucial matches of the sprint finish- it screams off the page that Chelsea, despite languishing in mid table territory, will have significant, if not a HUGE influence on the outcome of the relegation dogfight as well as the most unpredictable title race in years.
So while the Arsenal fans, the City fans, the Spurs fans and even the Leicester fans laugh at Chelsea now, Chelsea’s run in may result in who they give their title to (by choice you can argue!)…and the laughing will stop. Life lesson: those who laugh last, laugh the loudest.
As the chess pieces assemble in this thrilling game of shadows, Chelsea WILL be champions turned kingmakers. Checkmate.