FA Cup and Europa League Progress Would Be Disastrous for Chelsea's Season

Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Chelsea supporters are reflected in a balloon in the shape of the Champions League trophy during the Chelsea victory parade following their UEFA Champions League and FA Cup victories on May 20, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Chelsea are back to third in the Premier League after coming from behind Sunday to beat Sunderland, 2-1. With seven games left in the 2012-13 season, they have a game in hand over London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal and an away fixture at Fulham.

The Blues should be playing their Premier League game against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday 14th April, but will instead face Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley. If Chelsea progress to the final, they will also need to reschedule their penultimate Premier League match away at Aston Villa.

The final games of the Premier League season will be played on Sunday, 19 May. All matches kick off at 4 p.m. GMT, and everything is decided on that day. However, it might not be as simple as that at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea and Tottenham could both be involved in the Europa League semifinals, leaving Wednesday, 8 May as the only date that would allow for 48 hours between the remainder of their matches. Should the Blues go marching on to the Europa League final as well as the FA Cup final, they will need to play four games in nine days in order to fulfill their fixture requirements for the Premier League season.

There is no precedent to follow here. When the fixture list was compiled in June 2012, the current situation at Chelsea was unforeseeable. The replays against Brentford and Manchester United in the FA Cup have compounded a pile-up that was primarily caused by the Blues trip to Japan in December, and there is no official guide in place covering these unique circumstances.

Chelsea played away at Southampton Saturday, 30 March before hosting Manchester United Monday, 1 April.

The only option for them to fulfill their potential obligations would be to repeat a far more daunting feat in the final week of the season. This would mean playing the FA Cup final Saturday, 11 May, Aston Villa away Monday, 13 May and the Europa League final in Amsterdam Wednesday, 15 May before finishing the season at Stamford Bridge Sunday, 19 May.

It would be surprising if UEFA allowed this scenario, as it would certainly affect Chelsea's performances at the most crucial stage of the season, when everything is decided.

The race for the Champions League spots could come down to the final day, and Chelsea's qualification for the 2013-14 competition is crucial to their immediate future.

Their managerial short list could become non-existent if the Blues are in the Europa League, as trophies won this season will not entice any candidate to take the volatile position at Stamford Bridge.

Whilst the fans would love to win some silverware, the provision of stability at their club is a far more important factor, and there is a huge risk that they could end up with none of those things by 20 May.