Chelsea FC: Predicting Results for the Blues' Final 9 Games

Kevin StottSenior Analyst IApril 15, 2013

Chelsea FC: Predicting Results for the Blues' Final 9 Games

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    Heading into the home stretch of the season, it seems the number of matches and tournaments Chelsea has played so far would be enough to easily fill up two years' worth of football.

    But it’s hard for players, management or us fans to complain, seeing how the Blues schedule is a byproduct of the club’s success in winning the UEFA Champions League on that oh-so glorious Saturday in Munich in May last year.

    To the victors go the spoils, right?

    Yeah, some spoils, brother. Maybe if an oxygen tent, a year’s supply of Starbucks and a walker were part of the deal it wouldn’t seem so damn laborious right about now. (Please send the nurse in, doc. My intravenous French Roast drip is in desperate need of a change.)

    Anyway, not counting a possible Europa League final, the current European and FA Cup champions—better use those wonderful titles while we still can—have at least nine fixtures left for sure on its schedule, with seven English Premier League matches on tap and two Europa League semifinal legs.

    But upon closer scrutiny, none of those nine games will be easy, and if the Blues are to secure a fourth-place or better finish in the league or win a piece of silverware, they had better start playing like they did to start the season.

    Here is a look at the remaining games on fourth-place Chelsea’s (17-7-7, 58 points) schedule, complete with possible ramifications and a predicted final score.

Game 1—English Premier League: Fulham vs. Chelsea

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    When: Wednesday April 18, 2013 (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT)
    Where: Craven Cottage, London
    TV: Fox Soccer Channel (U.S.)
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com link

     

    Chelsea heads across town to the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to face 10th-place Fulham (10-10-12) in a game rescheduled because of the Blues participation in the FA Cup semifinals Sunday—which we shall not speak of to keep blood pressure levels low in the laboratory for this exercise, monsieur.

    If form holds, the Blues and the Cottagers will play a low-scoring tie, as the last four meetings between these two clubs in all competitions have resulted in hard-fought draws (0-0, 1-1, 1-1 and 0-0).

    And that doesn't bode well for Chelsea who needs to get three points in matches like this one to get to the promised land and the precious Champions League payday that comes with it.

    Fulham has been led by Dimitar Berbatov (13 goals), and without the 32-year-old Bulgarian and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, the Cottagers (7-3-5 at home) would be in a world of hurt and possibly now even in the shadows of the relegation zone.

    Psychologically, Fulham should have an edge here with nothing to lose and with the Blues coming off the aforementioned nightmare In Wembley and now trusting referees about as much as the Road Runner trusts Wile E. Coyote.

    And with now third-place Arsenal (17-8-7, 59 points) hosting Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday (Fox Soccer Channel, 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT), Chelsea must do everything in its power to defeat Fulham here and start the march to the finish line off in the right manner.

    The Cottagers will put up a fight—as they always do—but running on the fumes of bitterness and disappointment from the Manchester City match Sunday, expect the Blues and playmakers Juan Mata and Eden Hazard to find a way to win this one by a goal in the end.

     

    Prediction

    Chelsea 2 Fulham 1

Game 2—English Premier League: Liverpool vs. Chelsea

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    When: Sunday, April 21, 2013 (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT)
    Where: Anfield, Liverpool
    TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.), ITV 4, Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Go (UK)
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
    Arsenal: at Fulham (April 20)
    Tottenham Hotspur: vs. Manchester City (April 21)

     

    Later this week, interim manager Rafael Benitez and Chelsea head to Benitez's old stomping ground, Anfield, to play seventh-place Liverpool (13-11-9, 50 points) in what should prove to be another tough test for the boys from West London.

    Historically, the Reds have given the Blues fits, and in this season's first meeting at Stamford Bridge on Nov. 11, Liverpool earned a 1-1 draw as captain John Terry scored on a header in the first half for Chelsea and Luis Suarez came in as a second-half substitute to get the equalizer for the Reds.

    Besides the possible UEFA tournament qualification ramifications for both sides, no doubt much will be made of both Benitez's and striker Fernando Torres' return to Merseyside.

    And with guys like Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Agger and former Blues striker Daniel Sturridge, manager Brendan Rodgers has enough firepower to rain on Chelsea's parade.

    And with Liverpool still in the hunt for at least a Europa League spot and the Blues having played mid-week, getting out of this fixture with a draw and a valuable point here seems like the best thing Chelsea can hope for.

     

    Prediction

    Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1

Game 3—Europa League Semi-Finals (Leg 1): FC Basel vs. Chelsea

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    When: Thursday April 25, 2013 (3:05 p.m. ET/12:05 p.m. PT)
    Where: St. Jakob-Park, Basel
    TV: Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com

     

    Chelsea heads to Switzerland to face FC Basel from the Swiss Super League in the first leg of the tournament's semifinals next Thursday at St. Jakob-Park.

    The Blues got a favorable draw on Friday, considering they didn't get Portuguese Primeira Liga powerhouse Benfica, who has yet to lose a league game this season (21-4-0).

    One big thing going for Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and the Blues is the fact that FC Basel legend Alexander Frei actually played his last game for the RotBlau on Sunday, where he scored on a free kick in a 3-1 Basel win over FC Zurich.

    What will be important for Chelsea in this one, besides trying to win on the road in a hostile environment, will be scoring some road goals, which it should be able to do against FCB despite the fact this will be the Blues third straight game away from home.

    Players like Victor Moses, Ryan Bertrand and Frank Lampard may end up playing a big role for Chelsea here, who has just one last chance at winning some silverware in this tournament after failing in an unprecedented previous seven attempts this year.

     

    Prediction

    Chelsea 3 FC Basel 2

Game 4—English Premier League: Chelsea vs. Swansea City

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    When: Sunday April 28, 2013 (10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT) [Date change] 
    Where: Stamford Bridge, London
    TV: Fox Soccer Channel (U.S.)
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
    Arsenal: vs. Manchester United (April 28)
    Tottenham Hotspur: at Wigan Athletic (April 27)

     

    It's finally home, sweet home for Chelsea here, but two days' rest between games and a flight home to London from Switzerland could weigh on the European champions.

    The Blues will really need to win this fixture against ninth-place Swansea City (10-11-11, 41 points) and scoring machine Michu (17 goals in the Premier League) as taking on the first Welsh representatives in England's top flight could be hazardous to a top-four finish.

    Swansea City and talented manager Michael Laudrup won the Capital One Cup earlier this year, thrashing League Two side Bradford City, 5-0 on Feb. 24 at Wembley Stadium.

    Chelsea tied the Swans 1-1 at Liberty Stadium on Nov. 3 and will have to up their game a notch in order to head into the last month of the season on a high note, and with strikers Demba Ba and Torres seemingly at their best this year, the probability of a win is high although, like all these games, it won't come easy.

    One gets the feeling Blues fans are strangely getting used to that reality by now.

     

    Prediction

    Chelsea 3 Swansea City 1

Game 5—Europa League Semi-Finals (Leg 2): Chelsea vs. FC Basel

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    When: Thursday May 2, 2013 (3:05 p.m. ET/12:05 p.m. PT)
    Where: Stamford Bridge, London
    TV: Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com

     

    Much of how Chelsea handles this second leg will depend on what happened in the first leg a week earlier in Basel at St. Jakob-Park and, most likely, this one will also end up mattering in a big way.

    Whether or not it will be a winner-takes-all, down-to-the-wire scenario, a game where the Blues have to be extremely aggressive offensively after a first-leg letdown or if the boys in blue will try to just park the bus after a dominating opening leg remains to be seen.

    Again, Chelsea will benefit from the retirement of Basel and Swiss national team legend and all-time leading scorer Alexander Frei (42 goals), but with guys like Fabian Frei (no relation), goalkeeper Yann Sommer and Marco Streller (four goals in Europa League), FC Basel should certainly push the Blues to the limit.

    If the Blues did as well as predicted in the earlier slide, then even settling for a draw here and saving some energy and resting some players for Saturday's (May 5) showdown with Premier League leader Manchester United may be in the cards for Benítez and Co.

     

    Prediction

    Chelsea 2 FC Basel 2 (Chelsea 5-4 aggregate)

Game 6—English Premier League: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

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    When: Sunday May 5, 2013 (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT)
    Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
    TV: Sky Sports 3D, Sky Go, Sky Sports 1/HD (UK)
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
    Arsenal: at Queens Park Rangers (May 4)
    Tottenham Hotspur: vs. Southampton (May 4)

     

    Chelsea and Manchester United (26-4-2, 80 points) have met several times already in the past year, with the Blues playing the Red Devils twice in the FA Cup—they ousted them in the replay in West London on April 1—defeating them in a 5-4 thriller at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 31 in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup and losing to them 3-2 on Oct. 28 at home in the league's first meeting of the two giants.

    There is very little doubt that Alex Ferguson and the Red Devils will have already locked up the Premier League championship by this point and may be playing a second-string starting XI.

    But with United's impeccable home record (14-0-2, 40 goals for, 17 goals against) and a desire to break the Blues' EPL records for total points and goals scored in a season, Chelsea will be extremely lucky to escape with a point here.

     

    Prediction

    Manchester United 2 Chelsea 1

Game 7—English Premier League: Aston Villa vs. Chelsea

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    When: Saturday May 11, 2013 (7:45 a.m. ET/4:45 a.m. PT)
    Where: Villa Park, Birmingham
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
    Arsenal: vs. Wigan Athletic (May 12)
    Tottenham Hotspur: at Stoke City (May 12)

     

    Probably the easiest game left on Chelsea's schedule but by no means an easy one, the Blues travel to Villa Park to dance with the 17th-place Claret and Blue (8-10-15, 34 points) who sit just three points above the relegation zone at press time.

    Villa and manager Paul Lambert have done an admirable job fighting to stay out of the bottom three spots in the Premier League table, and with Christian Benteke (15 goals) firing on all cylinders and American Brad Guzan (five clean sheets) doing a nice job in goal, this is hardly a team anyone in the top flight wants to play these days.

    In their first meeting on Dec. 3 at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea did an absolute number on Villa, dismantling them in a record-tying 8-0 league win for the club, which was only equaled by the Blues 8-0 pasting of Wigan Athletic in West London on May 9, 2010.

    This one won't get that out of hand at Villa, but even though the home side will still be in a relegation battle, Chelsea should find a way to win here and take three points heading into their last two games in the league.

     

    Prediction: Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 1

Game 8—English Premier League: Chelsea vs. Everton

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    When: Sunday May 19, 2013 (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT)
    Where: Stamford Bridge, London
    Worldwide TV Streams and Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
    Arsenal: at Newcastle United (May 19)
    Tottenham Hotspur: vs. Sunderland (May 19)

     

    May 19. Now why does that date ring a bell?

    I forget. I think it's The Who guitarist Pete Townshend's birthday or something. Anyway, May 19 could again prove to be an important date on the calendar for Chelsea, a club formed 108 years ago in 1905.

    Sixth-place Everton (14-13-5, 55 points) has been fabulous this season and will likely be in its own battle for either a Champions League or Europa League qualifying spot itself headed into this showdown at Stamford Bridge.

    And with only United and City (four each) having fewer losses than the Toffees (five), Chelsea could really be up against it here versus manager David Moyes' club, which has seen midfielder Marouane Fellaini (11 goals) and striker Nikica Jelavic (seven goals) spearhead the attack this campaign.

    The Blues edged Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park on Dec. 30 to hand the Toffees one of those five setbacks and will need a similar effort to end the season in style, and hopefully, land a third- or fourth-place finish in the Premier League.

    As usual, when the chips are down, expect Chelsea's defense with Cech and Ashley Cole, Terry, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta to come through in the clutch and stifle the opponent when it matters most.

     

    Prediction

    Chelsea 2 Everton 0

Game 9—English Premier League: Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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    When: May 8
    Where: Stamford Bridge, London

     

    This match was scheduled for Sunday (April 14) but because Chelsea had to play City in the FA Cup semifinals, the game was postponed and recently announced it would be played on May 8.

    And before you think a game without a date might not matter in the grand scheme of things, guess again celery breath.

    This one will be massive, with fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur (17-7-8, 58 points) dead even with the Blues on points but trailing their London neighbors on goal differential (15-28) heading into this week

    Spurs have been suffering through injuries to some key players lately, including Gareth Bale (17 goals) and Jermain Defoe (10), so guys like Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey have become really important to manager Andre Villas-Boas' offense.

    When these two teams met earlier this season at White Hart Lane, Chelsea doubled up on Tottenham as midfielder Mata notched a brace in a 4-2 Blues win.

    This one won't be as easy, but the fact that Bale and Defoe may still be unavailable combined with the reality this game will be at the friendly confines of Stamford Bridge, may be two of the most important things in the long run to determine if Chelsea can land a spot in next year's Champions League.

     

    Prediction

    Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1

Conclusion

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    Whether or not Jose Mourinho coming to manage at Chelsea over the summer depends on the Blues securing a Champions League spot is truly a matter of speculation right now but no matter if it's the Special One, Manuel Pellegrini, David Moyes or someone else, these last nine or 10 games will go a long way to determining how the team feels about itself heading into the new 2013-14 season.

    That possible 10th game, and the only one not represented here in this slideshow, is a potential Europa League finals game for Chelsea—should it advance past FC Basel—against the Benfica-Fenerbahce winner on May 15 in Amsterdam, so let's hope the Blues can get to that point and bring home a trophy in their last attempt to do so.

    One thing worth mentioning here and noticeable when reading this slideshow is that Arsenal and Tottenham have relatively much easier schedules left than Chelsea, so, like last season, the Blues will have to be near-perfect these next five weeks.

    But before you start getting nervous in the service and get your royal blue panties up in a bunch, remember that until Chelsea plays Tottenham—which just has six games left—the Blues will have a game in hand over Spurs and in some great sense should be able to control its own destiny, prior results willing.

    But after the epicly dramatic way Chelsea qualified for the Champions League last year, however it does it this season—if it does—will undoubtedly pale in comparison.

    We'll see how it all plays out.

     

    Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11