Just a few short days after Chelsea suffered a disappointing loss to West Ham, the Blues will travel to the Britannia to take on Stoke City in the Capital One Cup. While many (including myself) deemed Saturday as an important game to gain a good result, Tuesday is a must-win match for the West Londoners.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, this entire season has not gone to script. Many fans and people involved with the club had picked the Blues to build on last season’s 2 cup triumph. However, starting firmly in the preseason, and spilling over into this campaign, it’s been nothing but poor results and heartbreak.
It almost doesn’t matter where it went wrong and who is responsible. The fact of the matter is, Chelsea are now in this position, and they need to start to figure out what plan they’d like to follow for the remainder of the campaign. While many people internally wrote off the Capital One Cup, it is now very much a competition that Chelsea should allocate resources to winning.
It represents an opportunity to not only win a trophy, but to automatically qualify for Europe. This is somewhat of a safeguard for the West Londoners should they be unable to break into the top four in the Premier League. Furthermore, it allows Chelsea to once again have their Wembley outing, an appearance that is vital to prove that Chelsea are still a club battling for trophies year in and year out.
Therefore, expect Mourinho (who very much needs a win to keep his job alive at this point) to play a strong team at the Britannia on Tuesday. The Blues will most likely start many big names, and try to find some sort of rhythm, though it seems like a tough feat.
While Stoke are also entering the game on the back of a loss, the Potters will be licking their lips to play a big club like Chelsea in the form that they are in. Mark Hughes revealed as much during his postgame press conference at the weekend.
“But the good thing is that we have a big game on Tuesday against Chelsea,” remarked Hughes. “That is the perfect game for us. We can get back on track. We’ll be better on Tuesday.”
These are confident words from a manager that is going up against last year’s champions. Yet it essentially sums up Chelsea’s season as a whole. Teams are lining up to play them while they’re vulnerable and Tuesday represents another time where a lesser club feels as though Mourinho’s men are there for the taking.
As the season continues and Chelsea continue to suffer losses, each game takes on more and more importance. As much as the Premier League has gone for them, they are still technically alive in all four competitions, though it would take quite the overhaul to catch either Manchester club. After tomorrow’s game, Chelsea must still be alive in all four competitions, meaning they have defeated Stoke on the road.
While Abramovich may have come out and supported his manager just three weeks ago, don’t take it the wrong way. He is not going to allow more poor results. He won’t take kindly to a round of 16 cup exit in a competition they won last season. While the Russian uncharacteristically backed his manager publically, he won’t need much more of a reason to sack Mourinho following a loss on Tuesday.
Although he seems to be maturing as his tenure in charge continues, he is still a trigger-happy person. As the poor results grow, his fingers have to be getting more and more itchy. Chelsea must win tomorrow.