Sunday’s defeat to Manchester United took Chelsea out of the top four for the first time since October. With Chelsea going away to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, hopes of Chelsea’s inclusion in the Champions League next season seems a difficult task.
Many are beginning to write off Chelsea, but Blues legend Pat Nevin thinks it’s still an open race, and that Antonio Conte’s men can scale through.
He wrote in the official Chelsea website: “It is still three from five at the top of the Premier League for the Champions league places; I think we accept that Man City might just get one of those top-four positions now! I will give Arsenal the benefit of the doubt in being in the chase but it is a long shot for them. So either United, Liverpool, Spurs or Chelsea will miss out with the obvious caveat about the possibility of one of us winning the Champions League and getting in that way.
“Right at this moment I think all four teams are improving in their form and though six points seems a big spread, it isn’t when you consider Chelsea’s dropped points against Bournemouth and Watford which I mentioned above, and we aren’t the only ones. I was at Man United’s capitulation against Newcastle the other week and Spurs have won four of their past nine games. One of them was against Newport County in a replay and at the weekend it took a last-gasp winner at Palace to get the three points, so nothing is settled yet.
“It is going to be a monumental run-in, but Chelsea now have to go on a run, hopefully starting with something, even a point against Man City at the weekend. After that it might come down to who has the nerve and who has the deepest squad. This could be where Liverpool, and to some extent Spurs, might struggle as the Champions League games start to take their toll.
“Liverpool are hugely reliant on having Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all fit and firing. Those three haven’t really stopped scoring all season but it gets harder and now that Philippe Coutinho has gone, the players who might have to come in and cover for them are not such stellar names.”