After having three Premier League matches spread over three months against Spurs, Crystal Palace and Burnley, Thomas Tuchel’s men now enter a week with two in seven days.
First up is Norwich on Thursday at Carrow Road and then Sunday at home to Newcastle.
In October, the reverse of both fixtures brought six points and ten goals for the Blues, seven of which came against the Canaries. This week could also put Chelsea much closer to solidifying their place in the top four with games to spare.
A recent report by FiveThirtyEight, an American statistical website, has Chelsea at a 99% probability to make the Champions League next season.
Although Tuchel is admittedly a fan of ‘data’, he would probably chuckle at this graph if presented to him, though it does show how fragile the teams below Chelsea are. Fourth-placed Arsenal, by comparison, is only ranked at 61%.
Percentages might be nice, but the reality of this week could be defining in handing Chelsea two fixtures against favourable opposition.
The roles are now reversed after spending a period without many league games as rivals had games in hand. After Manchester City comfortably beat Manchester United on Sunday, a win at Norwich would put Chelsea nine points clear of United playing one less than Ralf Rangnick’s side.
There is also the added benefit that teams below Chelsea will be squaring up against each other in the coming weeks or facing one of the top two.
United face Spurs this Saturday whilst Arsenal host Liverpool on the 16th.
The reality is that Chelsea should have never been in a battle for Champions League qualification in the remaining weeks of the season as their lofty title ambitions showed earlier in the season.
This week can solidify that belief whilst hoping to close the gap to Liverpool and Man City before the season ends in May.
What also will be helpful to Chelsea’s next owner, after Roman Abramovich’s decision to sell the club last week, is the £150m prize money received for finishing in third, around the fee Liverpool received last season – as broken down in this piece by Sportscriber.
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Of course, many different factors go into splitting prize money in terms of domestic and international TV rights plus commercial revenue. But retaining a place at Europe’s top table for the fourth year running sets up Chelsea’s next owner in a very healthy place.
Two wins this week would also beat Chelsea’s best winning run in the league so far this season. Tacking back to October with a run of four against Southampton, Brentford, Norwich and Newcastle.
Given the last trio of wins against Spurs, Palace and Burnley, the Blues suddenly look in a much healthier place with a squad close to full fitness.
This should be the week Chelsea start to put any fears of final day drama to bed.
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