The business end of the season is upon us and it is now that fixture lists start to become more and more relevant. Everyone has to play each other twice but titles can be won and lost depending on when you play. Much has been made about our remaining fixtures and how they are the easiest of all four title hopefuls.
The thing is, I’m not entirely sure that is true. Yes on paper we have the easiest fixtures but in practice that isn’t always the case. This season we’ve struggled to break down smaller teams, especially at home. The teams we will be playing will be fighting for their survival but that doesn’t mean they will come to Stamford Bridge and attack, they’re not that stupid. Everyone knows that if a team comes to the Bridge and attacks we will maul them on the counter-attack with the likes of Hazard and Willian. Teams will probably end up coming and shutting up shop in a similar vein to West Ham and hope to gain a point.
This season we’ve been excellent against the bigger sides and that is because they open up and play against us. With so many games left against smaller sides I’m concerned that we will end up with too many frustrating draws and once again our lack of a clinical forward could end up costing us.
The first of these challenges that we’ll face is against Fulham at Craven Cottage this weekend. This is probably the worst time to be facing Fulham. Felix Magath has come in and last time out against West Brom they looked much better organised than under Rene Meulensteen. Also this will be Magath’s home debut and as is so often the way with new managers players are all given a new lease of life and are all playing for their place again. Craven Cottage used to be a tricky trip but this season it hasn’t been the same fortress. If we are to win the title this must be the sort of games where we churn out a win.
On a night where we faced up against one of our old favourites I couldn’t help be distracted by the form of another old boy. It would be fair to say that Daniel Sturridge didn’t have the happiest time at Stamford Bridge but now he seems to be loving his football again. Chelsea fans would all agree that the talent was definitely there, we could all see that, but sometimes attitude would let him down. He didn’t like being played out of position and that is fair enough but in reality it was the fact that he was very much in Didier Drogba’s shadow.
It is similar with Liverpool because obviously he is not as good as Luis Suarez but they are a partnership and that is their relationship not an apprentice and master relationship. If we had Sturridge this season we could have been totally out of sight in the league. His relationship with the club completely deteriorated and it he isn’t without his faults, even at Liverpool we can still see the selfishness that we saw too regularly at Chelsea. It is a shame we let him go and we need to make sure a lack of rotation doesn’t mean we lose similar talents.