6 Players Most Likely to Be Axed by Chelsea This Summer
The Blues have the Champions League to contend themselves with yet before the season is out, while a shot at the Premier League title, although unlikely, is still mathematically possible.
So it shouldn't be all doom and gloom at Stamford Bridge, although it's only right that some players in Jose Mourinho's squad will now be looking over their shoulders and fearing for their futures.
The Palace result highlighted plenty about the character and weaknesses in the Chelsea dressing room and Mourinho will look to make changes this summer as he bids to emulate his first spell in charge at the club.
We hear rumors about which stars will be arriving at Chelsea in the summer, but who will be going the other way through the exit door?
Excluding Chelsea's loan players, Bleacher Report highlights six players whose Stamford Bridge futures are on the line.
To say 2013-14 hasn't been Ashley Cole's greatest season in his career is an understatement, with the Chelsea defender suffering the ignominy of being replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta, a right-back, on the left side of defence.
Injuries haven't helped, either, although when Cole has played, he has shown signs that age has finally caught up with him.
His contract is up at the end of the current campaign, but with the World Cup on the horizon, he has bigger concerns about where he will be playing his football next year.
Cole will be desperate to make it on the plane when England embark on their Brazilian adventure in a few weeks. It doesn't take a genius to highlight the only way he's going to achieve that is by playing—remaining on the treatment table or on the bench isn't going to improve his chances.
It isn't going to do much for his Chelsea future, either.
John Obi Mikel
In the 15 games Chelsea have played since Nemanja Matic returned to Stamford Bridge in January, John Obi Mikel has started just twice and appeared as a substitute six times.
It's a big indication as to where the Nigerian midfielder stands in Jose Mourinho's plans at Stamford Bridge.
Matic has shown Mikel the way things must be done, performing to a high standard every week and making Chelsea much stronger in defensive midfield as a result.
During the eight years he has been in West London, only on a handful of occasions has Mikel looked anything like the player Chelsea thought he would be.
The arrival of Matic and some of the younger players Chelsea have coming through must surely mean it's the end of his Chelsea career.
It was this time last year when we thought time had been called on Frank Lampard's Chelsea career.
The Blues legend's contract had just weeks to run and it didn't look likely he was going to be offered an extension. Then came a burst of goalscoring form that reminded us all of his talents, breaking Chelsea's scoring record in the process, and he was offered an extra year's stay.
Now, 12 months on, the same questions are being posed.
Sentiment says the midfielder, who will turn 36 in June, should be offered an extension to his deal that expires at the end of the current campaign. Logic suggests otherwise.
Lampard has been a fine servant to Chelsea—the greatest player in the club's history some would argue. Not too many fans could object to that point, either, but he is a fraction of the player he once was.
Too many games are passing him by these days and while it will be painful for Chelsea fans to bid him farewell, it will be the right decision with the club's long-term interests in mind.
Even with his fellow strikers struggling at times this season, Demba Ba hasn't been given a shot at cementing his place among Jose Mourinho's preferred front men.
The Senegalese has seen his game time severely limited this term and as the Blues look to build over the summer, there is little indication he will be given a chance to prove himself.
Chelsea will be signing a striker in the summer, it's as certain as the sunrise. If Ba is third choice among strikers who have mustered a combined 25 goals between them all season, it can't say much for his chances when more faces are added to the equation.
Chelsea fans have long held out the hope Fernando Torres will rediscover the scoring touch that persuaded the Blues to pay £50 million for him in January 2011.
While his general form and endeavor have been encouraging this year, a return of eight goals simply isn't.
A change of scenery may help him rediscover his killer instinct, but at Chelsea it seems like it will continue to evade him.
It's a shame, too. Torres has been one of the Premier League's finest strikers and despite his problems at Stamford Bridge, he has never had his commitment and work rate questioned.
When a club pays £50 million, however, much more is expected.
If Chelsea are to sign a world class striker over the summer, players will need to be moved on and with his reported salary of £200,000 per week, offloading Torres will free up vital funds to invest elsewhere.
He may be all smiles with Jose Mourinho in our picture above, but Hilario will surely be among the casualties at Chelsea this summer.
The Portuguese hasn't played a single minute in the entire campaign and at 38 years old, he isn't going to get many more opportunities.
It could also prove the same for Mark Schwarzer, especially as Chelsea's No. 2 is three years Hilario's senior. The Australian himself has played just six times this term and questions will be raised as to whether he can remain an ideal replacement for Petr Cech in times of need.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes
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