Guus Hiddink sent out a warning to his Chelsea players this week that the threat of relegation remains very real for them.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of Everton's Saturday visit to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's interim manager said they must be realistic about where they are in the table and that the bottom three shouldn't be forgotten about.
"There is a 12-point difference from fourth place, which is a gap," he said. "We all like to look forward towards the top of the table, but we also have to be realistic and see we are six points away from the relegation line. That’s also a fact."
Had Chelsea defeated West Bromwich Albion in midweek, things would be looking much better for the reigning champions.
Indeed, it would have meant victory over Roberto Martinez's Everton this weekend would have moved Chelsea above them in the table, leaving them on the cusp of the top 10.
Instead they are lagging, and Hiddink says he is eager for the team to find some consistent form that sees them winning games regularly.
Chelsea haven't won back-to-back league matches all season.
"We have to work hard and be very concentrated," he added. "We have to gather our points to step up. That’s why it is a pity West Brom got this 86th-minute equaliser because a win would have helped us a lot in going up the table.
"We were one point off the relegation line [when I came in as manager] but now we have a little bit more room to breathe in. We have two very difficult games coming up: Everton who have a very good away record—nine out of 10 of the last away games they got a result—and then Arsenal.
"If you don’t gather points, you don’t know what the others can do. The Premier League can surprise you."
As Hiddink hinted, Chelsea should be wary of Everton's away form come Saturday, with the Toffees more than capable of adding to their woes.
Date: Saturday, January 16
Time: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
TV Info: Match of the Day highlights (BBC1, 10.30pm. UK only) /NBC Sports (U.S. only)
Live Stream: No UK live stream/NBCSN (U.S. only)
Last 5 Games
|Dec. 26||Chelsea 2-2 Watford|
|Dec. 28||Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea|
|Jan. 3||Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea|
|Jan. 10||Chelsea 2-0 Scunthorpe United|
|Jan. 13||Chelsea 2-2 West Bromwich Albion|
|Dec. 28||Everton 3-4 Stoke City|
|Jan. 3||Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur|
|Jan. 6||Everton 2-1 Manchester City|
|Jan. 9||Everton 2-0 Dagenham & Redbridge|
|Jan. 13||Manchester City 0-0 Everton|
Chelsea have no new injury concerns after their midweek draw with West Bromwich Albion, meaning Eden Hazard and Radamel Falcao will be their only absentees against Everton.
"Eden Hazard is still out, although he is on the pitch working," Hiddink said in Friday's press conference. "I hope in the upcoming week he will have full training sessions and then we can decide if he can join us for the Arsenal game next weekend."
Everton will be missing Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, while Tom Cleverley is a doubt due to a hamstring issue.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar, Pedro; Diego Costa
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Stones, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines; Besic, Barry; Deulofeu, Barkley, Kone; Lukaku
The Spaniard's recent games have hinted at him rediscovering his best form. On Wednesday, he was a major figure in Chelsea's display against West Bromwich Albion.
When he was substituted in that game, the Baggies were then able to get back into it and equalise.
Fabregas had been controlling the pace and flow of the game, with his passing ability through central midfield putting Chelsea on top for long spells.
If he plays the full 90 minutes and replicates that performance against Everton on Saturday, Chelsea will have a strong chance of coming out on top.
When you're talking an attacking threat, they don't come much bigger than the Belgian from Everton's perspective.
Lukaku is the club's leading goalscorer with 15 Premier League goals this season. It's a stat made all the more impressive when we consider the Toffees currently sit outside the top 10 in the Premier League. Given they've scored 36 goals this term, Lukaku's tally accounts for close to half, too.
He comes big in size and stature and is the man who finishes things off for Martinez's side. Without him, they are visibly weaker up front, and he'll cause Chelsea big problems on Saturday.
Lukaku is yet to score past his former club, but you wouldn't bet against him to change that record at Stamford Bridge.
Secondary ticket information for Chelsea can be found here.
Chelsea 1-1 Everton
Home Win: -161
Away Win: +467
First Goalscorer: Romelu Lukaku (7/1)
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!