Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chelsea Retro: A Preview of April 2006

Here's some more Chelsea Retro for you. This is a monthly preview of April 2006, which turned out to be the defining month in Chelsea's season.

This preview comes a little late, so apologies. I would’ve said we should have no problems beating Birmingham, but looks like that prediction was wrong! We go into the rest of this crucial month with a seven point lead at the top of the table. This is the month when we could either win the title and get to the FA Cup final, or throw away a seven point lead and get knocked out of the FA Cup. Basically, this month is make or break for our season. We play five games – four league and one cup, which will effectively decide the season.

So what’s going to happen? Well as a Chelsea fan of over 20 years I can safely say you never know with Chelsea. However there seem to be a lot of people starting to doubt us and saying we going to ‘do a Devon Loch’. However we need to look at this more objectively. The fixtures are West Ham and Everton at home with Bolton away sandwiched between. We then have the two biggest games, United at home and at Old Trafford against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Despite what’s being said about us recently we are starting to play a bit better in recent games. We’re keeping the ball better and creating chances, and most importantly something is going right with our defence (funnily enough, since Gallas got suspended we haven’t conceded a goal). We are keeping clean sheets and as long as we keep doing that we will win games. Yes at times we’ve only played one half of games, but in those halves we’re creating enough chances to win.

There is no need to panic. The facts show that we have only dropped two points at home this season and have beaten Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others. If we keep this form up we will win the title either before or at the game against United – depending on how many points they drop. If United drop four points and we win our next three, we’ll win the title at home to Everton. If not, and we win two of those three , a victory against United will secure the title and even a draw will mean we only need a win or two draws from our last two to win it. The chances of United catching us are still slim and we should still be confident of retaining our title.

In the FA Cup it’s always about how you play on the day. We’re not scoring as many goals, especially away from home and Liverpool seem to have found their shooting boots. However, our domestic record against Liverpool in the last couple of season is superb and hopefully we’ll have our tails up from just winning the title. The odds are we’ll go through here.

We shouldn’t be worried at all about the mentality of the players. They know how good a position we’re in and will still be confident of winning the title and getting to the FA Cup final. Mourinho has instilled that belief and confidence in the squad and a couple of dodgy away results won’t shake it.

It’s us fans who must keep the faith and really get behind our teams at games. Let’s be loud, let’s be bold and really get behind the team. We must also stay confident and positive about our prospects. We still have a healthy lead at the top. Most years a seven point lead at this stage is a great achievement – we just have higher expectations after winning the title by 12 points last year. Winning a title a second year running is always more difficult and so it’s proving. Man Utd would much rather be in our position than theirs and even Alex Ferguson after the Bolton game said that Chelsea are still heavy favourites with their lead. All of us, the fans, the players and everyone involved at the club, just need to keep our nerve. If we do that, we win end this month as Champions looking forward to an FA Cup final and potential double – and all the critics and doubters will have been silenced. How good would that feel?

What actually happened:
Chelsea won all their league games after Birmingham up till the Man Utd game. They came from behind with 10 men to beat West Ham 4-1, beat Bolton 2-0, Everton 3-0 and then trashed Man Utd 3-0 at home to win the league. They did however lose 2-1 in the FA Cup Semi-Finals to eventual winners Liverpool. But nevertheless, a great month for Chelsea FC.