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Can Chelsea salvage their season?
07 March 2018, 12:50
Can Chelsea salvage their season?
CosminIftode / Shutterstock.com

Things have gone from bad to worse at Stamford Bridge has Antonio Conte looks to find a way to stop the bleeding. Chelsea are in peril after losing four of their last five Premier League matches.

The team has dropped from third in the league to fifth, and now sit five points off of the final Champions League place. Losses to Bournemouth, Watford, Manchester United and Manchester City have put the team's league season in jeopardy. With a crunch Champions League second leg last-16 tie against Barcelona on the horizon, the question is: Can Chelsea salvage their season?

Chelsea build-up for their Champions League match with Barcelona with a trip to Crystal Palace at the weekend. It is a game the Blues should win despite their terrible league form. On paper, it is the perfect warm-up match for the team's vital Champions League fixture in Spain. A win could get the Blues back within touching distance of red-hot Tottenham.

Chelsea have benefitted from a similar loss in form at Arsenal. The Gunners' three-match losing streak has allowed Chelsea to stay ahead of them in the Premier League table. However, Conte has to find a way to start winning again to challenge for a Champions League place.

This time last year, Chelsea were runaway leaders. From matchday 11, Chelsea never left first place in the Premier League. It was a testament to the great team Conte had in 2016-17 and his coaching approach. This season has seen a team lacking hunger. It didn't help that Conte sold two important players in Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic that were replaced by lesser personnel. Although he has scored 12 goals in all competitions, Alvaro Morata has been a big disappointment at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard has scored just once in the Champions League. Morata had never been the top striker at his previous clubs. His goal return for Chelsea is evidence that he benefitted from top players at Juventus and Real Madrid. Morata is in the midst of an incredible dry spell currently, as he hasn't scored a goal since December 26th.

Rumours continue to swirl that Conte will be sacked at the end of the season. If the Blues are eliminated from the Champions League, there is no guarantee he will get until the end of May. Chelsea are still playing in the FA Cup and will play Leicester in the quarterfinals. Conte needs to keep winning in the competition, but it seems his fate at Stamford Bridge is already sealed.

The differences between the 2016-17 title winner and the 2017-18 Chelsea team is striking. Costa scored 20 goals a year ago, Morata has managed just 10 in the Premier League. Eden Hazard has scored five fewer goals than all of last term in the league. The team is on pace to allow a similar amount of goals in the Premier League (33). But this season's Chelsea aren't the ruthless team they were 12 months ago. Regardless of how the season ends, and it looks likely Chelsea will finish fifth in the league and lose out to Barcelona in Europe, the Blues will sever ties with Conte. It shouldn't be a surprise as Chelsea struggle to salvage this term.

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OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Liverpool FC 42 16 13 3 0 34 6 28
2. Manchester City 41 16 13 2 1 45 9 36
3. Tottenham 36 16 12 0 4 30 16 14
4. Chelsea FC 34 16 10 4 2 33 13 20
5. Arsenal 34 16 10 4 2 35 20 15
6. Manchester United 26 16 7 5 4 28 26 2
7. Everton FC 24 16 6 6 4 23 19 4
8. Bournemouth 23 16 7 2 7 25 26 -1
9. Leicester City 22 16 6 4 6 21 20 1
10. Wolverhampton 22 16 6 4 6 17 19 -2
11. West Ham 21 16 6 3 7 23 25 -2
12. Watford FC 21 16 6 3 7 20 23 -3
13. Brighton 21 16 6 3 7 19 22 -3
14. Cardiff City 14 16 4 2 10 15 30 -15
15. Newcastle Utd 13 16 3 4 9 13 22 -9
16. Crystal Palace 12 16 3 3 10 13 23 -10
17. Burnley FC 12 16 3 3 10 15 32 -17
18. Huddersfield 10 16 2 4 10 10 27 -17
19. Southampton 9 16 1 6 9 13 30 -17
20. Fulham FC 9 16 2 3 11 16 40 -24

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