Although use of that expression must be up there with “literally”, “seen ’em given”, “in and around the area” and “banter” in the football parlance surplus stockpile, surely it applies to this match.
Hull City. Away. Sunday afternoon. 4pm. On the face of it, this weekend presents a fantastic opportunity to cement our place at the Premier League summit, finally put our Champions League woes behind us and give fresh impetus (you know, like the Capital One Cup Final was supposed to) to our stuttering campaign. That last word seems set to lose all meaning, too, on current usage.
Backs against the wall. Out of Europe. Following a home draw. Conspiracy theories abound. Siege mentality well and truly set in.
This week, the Club publicly backed Manager Jose Mourinho with their thoughts on the reduced number of penalties awarded to Chelsea so far this term, consolidating a position so entrenched you imagine SW6ers are starting to have their sleep interrupted by the constant sound of air-raid sirens.
After consecutive home draws – both of which felt like defeats – the onus is on the team and its star performers to haul the entire organisation out of its current malaise. Fatigue has become a fixture at Stamford Bridge of late; so much so that it may feel liberating to leave their local environs and let the wind take them North-Easterly, particularly to face a side that has amassed only 16 points in 14 home league games in 2014-15, winning just four times.
Hull come into this game on the back of a resurgent spell, even if their revived sense of spirit may have been dampened slightly by their mediocre draw last time out. However, that could easily be put down to a familiar lapse of concentration from midfielder Tom Huddlestone, one which will keep him out of Sunday’s clash, and the fact that the Tigers held out away from home with 10 men was admirable. This is the team, lest we forget, that did Chelsea a huge favour mere weeks ago by holding – and so nearly beating – Champions and nearest challengers Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on the weekend of said League Cup Final, when our attention to other details may have otherwise cut the lead to a paltry 2 points, even if only momentarily.
As it stands, the gap to City is now 6 points, still with that game in hand, with that being, as it so happens, at Leicester – the precise fixture in which Hull were most recently allowed to come away undefeated despite a numerical deficiency.
The title is very much ours to lose now.
Both the Blues and their closest rivals have exited continental competition for another year, so all eyes now fall upon the title run-in.
With Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal all looming large, the renewed vigour and inventiveness of last Sunday’s second half against Southampton needs to be chanelled, as opposed to the paucity of inspiration on display during a lacklustre first period, if we are to keep City and co. at arm’s length.
And if Eden Hazard keeps open his Mary Poppins-like bag of tricks against a side who lie in 15th place, three points above the drop zone, the visitors should provide more than enough to overcome opponents with significantly less about them than Saints, possibly the most impressive side to have visited the Bridge this season.
The gap and, arguably, the game, is a six-pointer. Squeaky bum time. Must win.