Three reasons it should be Europa League or bust for Chelsea
Why the Blues should sack off the Premier League
Chelsea could have made a huge statement of intent when they faced Everton last Sunday.
The Blues were the only side in the top-four chase to play at the weekend and a win would have really heaped pressure on the teams around them.
But following their 2-0 loss to the Toffees at Goodison Park it’s left them three points short and at 15/8 to grab a Champions League berth through the league.
However, they’ve got a favourable tie against Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-finals, so we take a look at why Chelsea should put all their eggs in the Europa-shaped basket.
Has the team hit the limit?
Following the weekend’s defeat to Everton, boss Maurizio Sarri sent out yet another damnation of his players, suggesting they’ve reached a “limit” in their progression this season.
A win could have seen them go joint-fourth with Arsenal, but Sarri claimed his players having suffered a “mental block” – one similar to their loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier in the campaign.
This drop off in performance has been a notable distinction of Chelsea’s season so far and one that could ultimately derail a top-four finish.
Chelsea have signed promising USA forward Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund, however their looming transfer ban has sharpened the need for Champions League qualification.
Chelsea’s remaining fixture list looks tough, perhaps one of the toughest in the run in.
Manchester United still have Wolves and Everton away, as well as Manchester City and the Blues at home.
But among his eight games left, Sarri has to play a fierce London derby against West Ham United and a trip to face a Cardiff City side scrapping for safety.
Although it could well be the away games against Premier League-chasing Liverpool and top-four rivals Man United that look the most daunting on paper.
Lose one of these and it could be lights out.
Competition for places
There’s a four-way tussle for the Champions League places going on in the top-flight, but Chelsea may be best placed to go for gold in the Europa League.
They are the 15/8 favourites in that competition and will be watching closely as either Arsenal or Napoli are eliminated.
The Blues have run up 13 goals in their two previous knock-out ties and are at a skinny 1/8 to advance to the semi-finals.
Both Cesar Azpilicueta and Sarri have been vocal in not ruling out a top-four finish, but maybe it’s time to get savvy and go all out for the Europa League win.
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