Just before the international break, Gary Cahill had scored a late goal to help Chelsea secure a 2-1 win over Stoke City. This helped establish a 10-point advantage over teams like Tottenham and Manchester City. The world’s media seemed convinced that Chelsea had the title in the bag. Just over a month later, the Blues find themselves defending just a four-point advantage with four games left in the campaign. Tottenham’s incredible run coupled with Chelsea’s defeats against Crystal Palace and Manchester United have truly opened up the title race. Can Chelsea hold their nerves to win the title?
Strangely, both teams are in need of a psychological boost for different reasons. Chelsea need a boost to regain the lost momentum, while Tottenham require the same in order to prepare for a difficult run of fixtures.
Clearly, aspects like experience and the strength of the remaining opponents seem to play a major role in Chelsea retaining their tag as favourites. Out of the four games, Chelsea are on the road just once – against West Brom. This match will be extremely tough, as the blues have struggled against these opponents in the past. The three home matches do provide a lot of comfort, as Middlesbrough, Watford, and Sunderland are the visitors to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are certain to pick up the maximum nine points from these home matches.
West Brom have suffered three consecutive defeats at home, but Tony Pulis always seems to make his team rise above mediocrity when it comes to facing Chelsea. The only solace is that the team will not be defending too deep like they did at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture. The pressure of playing at the Hawthorns should leave gaps for the likes of Pedro and Eden Hazard to exploit.
The 3-0 win at Goodison Park overcomes the trickiest tie of them all. Everton were on a roll after having won eight consecutive home matches. However, the blues showed great composure to inflict the first home defeat for Ronald Koeman’s team since the loss against Liverpool in the middle of December.
It would be wrong to focus just on Chelsea’s games. One of the reasons behind Chelsea’s recent wobbles has been the pressure exerted by Spurs playing ahead of the Blues. This trend changes over the next couple of weeks, as either team lacks a significant edge in this regard. Tottenham are up against Manchester United at White Hart Lane, but this is the only home game for the North London outfit. Spurs are on the road in the remaining three matches.
Chelsea’s difficult trip to the Hawthorns could hold the key to all the answers.