10 Key Fixtures for Chelsea in the 2014/15 Season
There may be a World Cup on, but preparations for the 2014-15 Premier League campaign are continuing in earnest.
Chelsea have already been busy in the transfer market, offloading David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain while Cesc Fabregas has been signed from Barcelona to replace the outgoing Frank Lampard in midfield.
Those transfers have given us an indication of how Chelsea's squad will look next year, and now that next season's fixtures have been announced, we have a better view for how the campaign may well pan out.
What are the biggest games that impact Chelsea's season the most? We look at the top 10.
The full list of fixtures can be found on ChelseaFC.com.
Aug. 30: Everton (A)
It was four games into the 2013-14 season when Chelsea traveled to Goodison Park, losing 1-0 to Everton.
Samuel Eto'o made his Chelsea debut that day, and it proved a frustrating game for Mourinho and his players.
The Blues dominated for large spells, failing to make their superiority count before Steven Naismith's goal right on half-time proved enough to separate the teams.
Facing Everton three games into the campaign this time out, Mourinho will be eager to avoid those problems again and ensure his team gets their season up and running.
Sept. 20: Manchester City (A)
Can Branislav Ivanovic repeat his 2013-14 exploits against Manchester City? Mourinho certainly hopes so.
Chelsea defeated their title rivals at Etihad Stadium in February, with Mourinho pulling off a tactical masterclass to get one over Manuel Pellegrini.
Whereas that fixture came in the second half of the season, however, Chelsea travel to City with just four games having been played in the 2014-15 Premier League.
They would prefer this fixture to come later in the season, especially as the first round of Champions League fixtures would have started in the week leading up to it.
In terms of the title race, this will not carry the weight of February's fixture, but it will be vital in terms of gaining a psychological edge.
Oct. 4: Arsenal (H)
Last time out, Chelsea thrashed Arsenal 6-0 at Stamford Bridge.
That game came in March, so with the Blues facing their old foe earlier in the campaign, it will give Arsene Wenger's men a good opportunity for a little payback.
Given how Arsenal tend to start the season bright, there's every chance they may well be able to do just that, too.
This game will come with the added spice of being the first time Fabregas will have the opportunity to line up against his former club in a Chelsea shirt.
Oct. 25: Manchester United (A)
Come the end of October, Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford will mean they would have completed their travels to Manchester for the 2014-15 season, having faced Manchester City in September.
If they can remain undefeated in both games, it will give them a considerable advantage in the title race.
Make no mistake, Manchester United may have been poor in 2013-14, but with Louis van Gaal at the helm, the Red Devils will be back among the teams to beat for club's holding title ambitions.
Chelsea will need to get a result at Old Trafford, where they played out a goalless draw last term.
Nov. 8: Liverpool (A)
Not long after visiting Manchester United, Chelsea will be back in the north-west to face Liverpool in November.
The Blues mastered Liverpool at Anfield in April, winning 2-0 to severely damage their title hopes. A similar result will give them plenty of time to make up ground, but this game will be just as important.
What will be interesting is how Liverpool cope. The Champions League will be in full swing, and with more games to contend with, it will stretch Brendan Rodgers' squad unlike last term when they had no European commitments.
After this game, Chelsea will then be left with the knowledge that Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City must all travel to Stamford Bridge.
If Chelsea have taken points from their rivals, it will put them in a strong position.
Dec. 26: West Ham United (H)
In late January this year, West Ham United arrived at Stamford Bridge and frustrated Chelsea to earn a 0-0 draw.
It led to Mourinho describing their approach as "19th century football," per BBC Sport.
That result came at a vital time for both clubs: Chelsea were attempting to pick up momentum in the title race while West Ham were trying to pull clear of the relegation zone.
When they face each other in west London once more, it will be equally vital, coming on Boxing Day.
The festive season is traditionally an important time of the year in the Premier League, with games coming thick and fast.
Win them all, and an average season suddenly becomes promising. Lose them, and the threat of relegation looms—or worse, where Chelsea are concerned, title hopes can be dashed.
Jan. 1: Tottenham Hotpsur (A)
Shortly after their Boxing Day clash with West Ham United, Chelsea will face another London derby.
This time, it will come against Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day.
In a touch of coincidence, new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino welcomed in 2014 with Jose Mourinho last season when Chelsea defeated his Southampton side 3-0 at St Mary's.
To maintain their momentum, Chelsea will need a similar result to ensure they keep up the pace in the title race.
Jan. 31: Manchester City (H)
Last season, Fernando Torres stole a late winner to give Chelsea all three points against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, capitalizing on Joe Hart's blunder.
Will we see similar drama this time out?
Facing each other in late January will be ideal for Chelsea and City. Not only will the Champions League be a few weeks away, the game comes at a time when the usual distractions of January would have passed, such as resting players after Christmas and the early rounds of the FA Cup.
This will come with considerable importance, though. As the last time they face each other in the league, both teams will want to take maximum points to dent the other's title hopes.
A mid-season six-pointer.
Apr. 25: Arsenal (A)
Fabregas' return to the Emirates Stadium will be much more vital than the side show his presence will bring.
Chelsea would have faced Manchester United a week earlier, and should they remain in the Champions League, their squad will be incredibly stretched.
Will Chelsea and Arsenal still be in the title race? If the answer is yes, this game will be among the best of the season even if we are making predictions 10 months ahead of time.
After facing Arsenal, Chelsea will have just four games remaining.
May 9: Liverpool (H)
From mid-April to early May, Chelsea face Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool—the Reds completing what is set to be an epic few weeks for Chelsea.
Facing Liverpool at the end of that run will be a big factor as to whether Chelsea go on to be crowned Premier League champions, especially as just West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland will await the Blues.
It's the perfect opportunity for Brendan Rodgers and his players to wreck any potential title party, like Chelsea did to them in 2013-14.
We don't know yet if it will come to that, but should it, Chelsea will need to guard against a team desperate to make amends.
If they can, it may well be plain sailing to a fifth league title.
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes
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