The Blues have played just twice in the last three weeks and only seven times since the start of February. The sick bay is all but clear and any niggles and fatigue has had appropriate time to be replenished ahead of a maximum shift of sixteen games as the Londoners try to keep toe with Manchester United and once again attempt to end their Champions League hoodoo.
It is back to business come Wednesday with the formality of finishing off FC Copenhagen before the crunch league clash with Manchester City on Sunday. The Citizens – and chiefly Carlos Tevez – have been particularly irksome to Carlo Ancelotti having beaten his side in the last three meetings. Chelsea trail City by two points with a game in hand and aim to pass their billionaire rivals with more than half on eye on catching the other Manchester mob.
Chelsea’s leisurely lifestyle has been in direct contrast to the Manchester duo who have clocked up almost double the matches since February across three competitions. Coming into the most crucial juncture of the season, the Blues should feel well primed for a late charge.
The scattered fixture list should also have presented Ancelotti with plenty of time to time to right a few wrongs on the training ground, as seemingly a 4-4-2 will be the modus operandi during the run-in. The italian coach has shifted to the system for Chelsea’s last three matches, and although they have won all three, the new shape has not been without its imperfections.
Of course the ongoing conundrum is what to do at the top end of this layout with the misfiring Fernando Torres not exactly spearheading a cohort of similarly out of sorts strikers. Dider Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou have also been underwhelming for the large and of most concern, any permutation of two from four has yet to fully develop and flourish.
Essentially a solution to these forward dilemmas may well make or break Chelsea’s season from here on in. Defensively they are as obdurate as ever having conceded the least goals in the league whilst their midfield continues to be functional if not fluid. Of the champions seven league defeats this season, six have come without the Blues troubling the scoreboard and four of those have been narrow 1-0 reverses. For a side that registered over 100 times last term, the ability to score important goals at impending times has been another key component critically missing from their play.
These figures may be endemic of the sides slump as a whole, but that innate ability to nick goals, games and points is what separates the best from the rest. Extracting the best from Torres needs to begin with finding him a foil and a friendship to get the goals that matter.