Thursday, 16 May 2013

Charting Chelsea’s Long Season

Chelsea’s Europa League title success is just reward for a gruelling season that saw a surprise managerial change-around midway through the campaign and the club play in eight different competitions.

As we near the final day of the Premier League season, Blues fans can breathe a sigh of relief. They have won a trophy, qualified for the Champions League, and miraculously kept a squad together over 69 competitive fixtures.

Their only major downfall was in the Champions League, where Roberto Di Matteo failed to inspire the same guile and courage that steered the Blues to the final just a few months earlier, despite heavy support in the odds on Champions League.

Chelsea crashed out of a group they really should have won, coming third behind Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk. But Wednesday’s Europa triumph was adequate silver lining for that dark cloud on their season and at least they’ve earned a trophy – unlike Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City, and Liverpool.

In the Premier League, the remit was to stay in the title race but Manchester United’s dominance meant that was impossible, so Rafael Benitez gets a B+ for finishing third (assuming they win on Sunday).

The League Cup was by no means a priority yet they still made the semi-finals: an achievement replicated in the FA Cup, where they came up against a City side desperate to make something of their own season.

Remember, Chelsea also had a jet-lagging trip to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup, which they lost in the final, suffered defeat in the UEFA Super Cup and lost a start-of-season Community Shield clash with City.

When the final whistle blows at Stamford Bridge this weekend, the Blues will have completed their 69th game of the season, almost fitting two Premier League campaigns into one.

The fact they continued to battle hard against Benfica right to the end is a credit to the coaching staff, Benitez, and the players themselves, who proved last season’s success was no fluke and that hard work really does pay off in the end.

Check out the End of Season Report on Betfair for more insight into the Blues’ most recent campaign.

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