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Posted by Phil Lythell on 04/02/2012

Chelsea's 4-2 win at Aston Villa on Saturday was very encouraging but its importance has been made all the more evident when set against the results of the rest of the teams chasing Champions League spots.

Tottenham's win against Swansea cemented their five point lead over the Blues while Newcastle's victory over hapless Liverpool ensured they remain hot on our heels. The reverse that Arsenal suffered at the hands of QPR means that they are now looking over their shoulder once again despite previously winning 6 on the bounce. In fact, now it seems that Chelsea's trip to the Emirates Stadium on 21st April could have added significance should the same pace be maintained by the four interested parties.

While events at Villa Park spoke of a new stoicism within the team - having recovered from the loss of a two-goal lead to power on and win the game again – the need for those types of showings to continue every week is imperative as the need for a top-four finish cannot be emphasised enough.

There can be no doubting that Chelsea are going through a transitional phase with some players lacking the fizz of previous years and the need to bring in fresh blood being abundantly clear. Creativity, width and pace in midfield and attack – as well as a right back – will be sought in the summer with eyes cast covetously over the likes of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Eden Hazard and Luka Modric amongst others. But would they be happy to join a club not involved at the top table of European football? The calibre of player needed to regenerate the playing staff to the level to which we have become accustomed in the past decade is unlikely to sign a contract at Stamford Bridge if also offered a role at another club playing in next year’s Champions League.

One mitigating factor could be the kind of astronomical wages that Chelsea can provide, a policy proven by Manchester City’s recruitment of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, David Silva et al even though the Europa League has been the pinnacle of their continental aspirations. However, with the implementation of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations (FFP) – that restrict clubs to making a total loss of €45m over the next three seasons – the likelihood of bumper pay deals being offered is low without the economic advantages of the Champions League at Chelsea’s disposal. The same goes for the huge transfer fees that would be needed to sign the players mentioned above. Champions League qualification can be worth up to £70m and those figures can prompt big purchases. Without that windfall, meeting FFP rules and recruiting top quality players will be a very tough task.

Of course, Roman Abramovich could stick two fingers up at the rules and spend whatever he likes. Should European aristocrats such as Real Madrid, AC Milan or Barcelona follow suit then Chelsea could get away with it as there would be little appetite in the corridors of UEFA to exclude the main attractions from their money-spinning flagship tournament with sponsors interests and the value of television rights of paramount concern. But it would be a very bold move and could backfire spectacularly if Michel Platini takes a hard line on offending clubs.

As with everything in the modern game, another implication of not finishing in the top four of the Premier League is also concerned with money. Chelsea’s modest stadium capacity of around 42,000 earned the club £67.2m in matchday revenues in 2010, the most recent financial results currently available. Sounds good but when you compare it to Arsenal (£93.9m) and Manchester United (£101.8m) then it is clear that the Blues lag behind significantly. Without Champions League football the gap will widen and with Tottenham likely to compete in our absence should we fail to make it, they will have an added boost next season ahead of the building of a new stadium that will hold a reported 56,000 spectators. It is obvious that Chelsea will either have to redevelop Stamford Bridge or seek a new home to keep up with their rivals but in the meantime the gold reserves of European football have to be mined.

The implications of failing to finish the campaign in the top four are clear and that is why nothing less than full throttle must be expected from the players in the remaining fixtures. Though, perhaps I am just being pessimistic. After all, you never know, we could yet qualify by winning the thing this season. And that would have the added bonus of denying the fourth placed team a place in the competition which could well be Tottenham.

Now wouldn’t that be sweet.

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Posted by aLVin9800 on 04/03/2012

Fernando had a fantastic game and the goal was the icing on the cake and thanks to Daniel who unselfishly set him up. Credit to RDM for educating him, unlike AVB who once said, strikers by nature were selfish and allowed selfish play to prevail.

Next season's CL's football will depend on the remaining games and in the destinies of notably Spurs and Arsenal, depending on their final stretch! Henceforth, Chelsea needs every ounce of efforts in the run in. The lesson learnt from the AV game was that Chelsea's back line could be vulnerable and lost concentration. This was evident all season long and crucial goals were conceded in the dying minutes.

Against Benfica, the Team should attack to get the 2nd goal and with the home fans rooting for them, they must have the belief that they can do it, bury the Portuguese and restore the pride of English football. Perhaps qualification is secured, being this year's champion! Borrowing David's tagline, Keep the Blues' flag flying.

Posted by Amos Z. Gaye Sr. on 04/03/2012

According to the Holy Bible, life and death is on the tongue. Chelsea can finish at the fouth place if Daniel will leave his selfish behaviour and give the ball to his partner. It was AVB that got us down because he love Daniel so much not thinking about the team position. but thank God we are back on track.Let us go in tomorrow game like the final match with one team spirit not for our own selfish interest but in the interest of CHELSEA. God bless us to the final.

Posted by Chidozie on 04/03/2012

If Chelsea fans had allowed CFC full ownership rights of Stamford Bridge,this issue of capacity will have been resolved by now. If we can't redevelop The Bridge then we must build a bigger stadium.

Posted by Zohaib on 04/04/2012

Im a United Supporter but i must admit that Roberto Di Matteo is a great manager....Torres could be the final piece of the jigsaw. If he finds his form and regains his old potential, i think his flair can lead Chelsea to everything they want.

Posted by samuel on 04/04/2012

chelsea is one of best club in world and still believe that the will come back to big four thanks

Posted by Asif on 04/05/2012

i totally agree with the other bloggers' sentiments regarding sturridge. If sturridge had learnt to pass the ball earlier in the season, Torres would have found his scoring boots much sooner.

Posted by Mark from FL, USA on 04/08/2012

Chelsea played well in my opinion, but what I want to highlight is the importance of torres' 'goal scoring' form continuing. He has played for the team the whole season, but maybe they'd do better to start playing for him more. Yes, he's an idiot at times but they could create a monster by building his confidence by setting him up more often. He could definitely be the answer they need, especially when facing Barcelona. Also, Sturridge is an amazing young talent who needs to either rotate on point, or be a 'super-sub'. And how do you rate Luiz and Cahill? Really, i want to know. Terry is class. Tough little guy. Playing with broken ribs. What would be an ideal starting XI to face Barcelona?

Posted by boldman on 04/25/2012

Fortune favours the brave is the case of chelsea fc.i av been blues all ma life and so will i remain till i die...Ramires and Torres are inevitable players for Chelsea future,i believed they have much more to offer.Cudus to all the players,they made a great team and so we will win the UCL final.

Posted by sharul baharim on 05/28/2012

I think better chelsea fc redevelop or built the new stadium stadium big capacity to compete arsenal or Man U or real madrid/barca. It is important because I'm predict chelsea will be euro football power to compete with barca, real madrid, man u so to increased income not only to played Champions League but to increased stadium capacity to increase match day income. You saw arsenal and spurs built new stadium big capacity because their see needs to increased stadium capacity so more fan can buy ticket not only 42000 if still used stamford bridge.

Posted by Shilu on 06/17/2012

Don't you understand Wenger was tlinakg about last season how good the away form was for Arsenal? And there you are tlinakg about the home form now. Stupid writer.

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Phil Lythell Phil Lythell is a Chelsea season ticket holder and lifelong Blues supporter stretching back to the sepia-tinted days of Kerry Dixon and Pat Nevin. Author of Chelsea-centric blog, Phil has spent his entire life living within a 20 minute walk of Stamford Bridge which has cost him a fortune but has also kept him from those interminable queues outside Fulham Broadway Station giving him more time in the pub to discuss the latest glorious/calamitous/insipid match.

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