A late Cesc Fabregas penalty earned Chelsea a share of the points in a 2-2 draw with West Ham United on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. Although the Blues remain securely mid-table with eight matches to play, the result and performance against a top-four contender suggested Chelsea will have a big say on who finishes where in the top half of the Premier League.
However, based on this display and many others, Loic Remy doesn't figure to play a starring role during the campaign's final two months. The French forward disappointed yet again, and his time in west London appears to be drawing to a close.
Twice West Ham took the lead, firmly underlining their top-four credentials. Manuel Lanzini broke the deadlock with a stunner in the 17th minute, curling beautifully over Thibaut Courtois from well outside the area.
But Chelsea showed resilience by drawing level on the stroke of halftime. Three minutes into stoppage time, Fabregas curled in a superb free kick to make the score 1-1 at the break.
Thereafter the Blues enjoyed a good spell at the start of the first half but were unable to take the lead. Remy, who started in place of the suspended Diego Costa, turned and fired a shot on target in the 61st minute but was unable to trouble Adrian in West Ham's goal.
Moments later, West Ham retook the lead at the other end as Andy Carroll—literally seconds after entering as a substitute—ran onto a good pass from Dimitri Payet and slotted past Courtois. The difference in the quality of finishing must have concerned Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, who had opted to start Remy ahead of the in-form Bertrand Traore.
In fact, Remy's miss moments earlier was probably his best contribution of the match. Otherwise, he was poor, and Hiddink would be wise to stick with Traore for the second game of Costa's ban.
Remy has been little more than a passenger during his time at Chelsea, and this season has been no different. In 11 Premier League appearances this campaign, the Frenchman has netted just one goal, adding two more in the Capital One Cup for a grand total of three strikes in 18 games in all competitions.
That's hardly a sterling record, and it's hard to see Remy staying on past the current season. If Saturday was a chance to show his worth, his employers won't have been impressed. Whoever the new manager is next season, it's likely he'll consider Remy surplus to requirements.
But even after falling behind a second time, Chelsea again responded with admirable resolve. After creating several good chances to score, the Blues finally equalized for a second time through Fabregas' late penalty.
The hosts could have even won the match in stoppage time, but substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek was unable to test Adrian with his low shot following good work by Traore.
From this result, Hiddink should draw a few conclusions in addition to the point about Remy.
With the draw, Chelsea extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 14 games, and while the Blues might not be in the thick of a top-four race like their opponents, this performance showed they still have something to play for this season despite being out of the title race, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.
After the poor start to the season, Chelsea are showing a commendable drive to restore some sense of pride to Stamford Bridge. Results have improved dramatically under Hiddink, and now the Blues are in position to influence the way in which the rest of the Premier League season plays out.
Before now and the end of the season, Chelsea will play Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Leicester City, all of whom sit above them in the table. Catching all those teams might be too much to ask, but Hiddink's men could certainly spoil somebody's season along the way.
The Leicester match is scheduled for the final day of the season, by which time the Foxes might have already clinched the title. But if the trophy is still up for grabs that day, would you bet against Chelsea giving the leaders a tough match?
Chelsea might not have a chance to win any silverware this season, but their campaign is far from finished.