Chelsea are at a crossroads, it feels like. They’ve had a rocky start to the season, with plenty of reasons for that. Recent results and performances have been a lot better, and there’s plenty of excitement building through this international break that manager Mauricio Pochettino might have been able to use the fortnight to cement that improvement and really iron out some of those inconsistencies.
So what do our upcoming fixtures have to say about that? The tough run we dreaded for so long is finally coming to an end, and we’ve already done better than most expected. We got a point off Arsenal that should have been three, we beat Tottenham and drew a thriller with Man City. We showed everyone we’ve got what it takes to compete against the best teams in the division – now we’ve got to dispatch some weaker teams in a way we failed to earlier in the year, and start our climb up the division.
This run will be what decides all that, and while you’d be mad to try and predict anything about this team, people like to gamble, and you wouldn’t even bet in the best casinos without knowing your customer – so what are Chelsea fans going to be thinking about the games they have to come?
Under normal circumstances you’d fancy your side to win the easier games and struggle in the more difficult ones (that’s literally why they’re easy or difficult). But Chelsea have been so odd in that department this season.
The Blues under Mauricio Pochettino have actually done better – both in terms of performance and in terms of results – in their harder games against the teams top of the league. It’s against teams sitting deep and defending where we’ve really struggled.
So our matches against Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Luton and Everton might end up being more of a struggle than you’d think. While the matches against Newcastle, Man U and Brighton may give us more of a chance.
Tomorrow’s match at St James’ Park will give us a great indication of where we’re at. Eddie Howe’s team will have to come out and play given they’re at home, but they’re not going to come at us full force like Spurs or Arsenal or Man City. It should be a pretty balanced game, and it would be a brilliant one to win in terms of showing the rest of the league that we’re the real deal.