This week saw the end of the Champions League dream for the two remaining teams in England—Manchester United and Arsenal.
It means bad news not only for the fans of these two teams, but for Chelsea too. This means that both these teams will turn their attention towards the one remaining piece of silverware—The Premier League trophy.
The three teams in the trophy hunt are not separated by many points. Chelsea leads with 74 points, while Arsenal sits third only three points adrift. A win, a loss, or even a draw can have huge implications on the teams as each squad looks to leapfrog the other.
Chelsea suffered a huge number of injuries, (A.Cole, Essien, Carvahlio, Cech, J Cole, Ivanovic, Deco, Zirkhov—all influential players who had been injured at some point in time for long periods this season) and perhaps their "rightful" exit from the Champions League was a blessing in disguise.
They regrouped and retook the lead in the Premier League.
Lesser matches now mean more, rest for the weary old legs of the Chelsea players; more time to concentrate on the remaining matches and more inspiration to regain some lost glory. And it would appear that they would have gotten the better of the deal with their two remaining opponents being Champions League tied.
Manchester United seemed to be in a good position to reach the Champions League finals. Even the loss to Bayern could have been overturned in the next leg, but the loss of Rooney dealt a severe blow to them.
Rooney's limited presence, and a red card eliminated their Champions League dream. Right now they only have the league to play for.
Wayne Rooney's injury is not so severe; he is expected to come back for the clash against City. So, they will only miss Rooney for the match against Blackburn. Given their not too difficult schedule, expect United to come out strong to challenge for the title.
Arsenal would have loved to win the Champions League. It is the one trophy that has eluded them, and winning it this year would mean a lot to the often criticized Arsene Wenger.
Sadly, Barcelona with the help of Messi and the referee, showed the door to Arsenal. This is very bad news for Chelsea and United. Of the three title hopefuls, Arsenal has the easiest schedule. They stand to take maximum points and hence will be well positioned to make the jump if the other teams slips.
And Chelsea, they have the toughest schedule—an FA cup game against Villa followed by a clash with the defensive Bolton only a few days later. That is followed by a match against Tottenham, who wrecked Chelsea's title hopes earlier in the season. And if Chelsea can survive these games, the biggest test of the schedule comes against the fallen Liverpool.
A tough schedule, scores of injuries, and the FA cup challenge in the middle—Chelsea are delicately positioned to win or lose all.
The Champions League loss to the rivals means the end of extra matches and distractions for them. They still need Chelsea to lose games—and with the climax still unknown Chelsea may turn out to be the biggest loser this season too. Can the Blues hang on?