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Fernando Torres' struggle for consistent form has summed up his club's season
For all the stars and flowing football they produce, Chelsea haven’t been anywhere near the heights of last season. Their form has been stuttering, and it is mainly through grit and a slice of good fortune that they held onto third place until as recently as Saturday.
Reality has hit. Arsenal are right on Chelsea’s coat-tails, while outsiders Everton still hold onto hopes of someone above them having a couple of bad games.
A lacklustre performance against Southampton at the weekend was typical of too many of Chelsea’s games this season. Whatever it is that’s going on behind the scenes, the players must have eyes and ears only for the upcoming playing schedule, which is unenviable at best.
Inconvenient trips across the continent in the Europa League will tire the players further after their hectic winter, while the league fixtures aren’t any less daunting. However, an F.A. Cup quarter-final victory over Manchester United earlier today will provide a timely rise in confidence.
Playing Tottenham is the battle for third place, while away games at Manchester United and Liverpool could sap more precious points from those still available. As mentioned earlier, Sunderland and Aston Villa will not be easy, with both teams trying to stay out of the bottom three, and Everton have a European bid of their own for motivation.
Of the big London clubs, going by form and psyche, Chelsea seem most likely to fail to qualify for the Champions League. If that happens, it will be a result of the mismanagement and chaos coming from upstairs, which, when you think about, really derailed their campaign in November with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.