Why West Ham clash should be the beginning of Chelsea’s resurgence in form ahead of Dortmund tie
Ultimately, regardless of the assurances over Graham Potter’s job, Chelsea’s season is going to be heavily judged on their Premier League finish and how far they get in the Champions League.
Should Chelsea not clinch top-tier European qualification for next season, it won’t spell the end for Potter at Stamford Bridge. The owners are prepared to offer patience and backing to the 47-year-old, just like they have done so last month with a spend of over £300 million in the January transfer window.
Their chances of playing Champions League football next term looks increasingly likely. Chelsea are ten points off the pace in the league, and they would need a remarkable run in the knockout stages to claim their third Champions League triumph – they’ve done it before, so it can be argued that it’s possible to do again this season.
Challenging circumstances which Potter has had to deal with come into play and must play a factor in Chelsea’s poor form. It can’t be used as the total excuse because performances haven’t been good enough, but they’ve certainly impacted selection decisions, games and results. The constant injuries have caused havoc for Chelsea, as many as 12 out at one time, but the tide is starting to turn in their favour.
Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Wesley Fofana are all nearly available again, while Denis Zakaria and Mateo Kovacic are returning to full fitness. N’Golo Kante, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic are eyeing comebacks in the coming weeks, with Edouard Mendy sidelined with a fractured finger.
The injury problems are easing, boosting the morale within the squad as have the eight new signings which were acquired last month, including the club’s new record signing of Enzo Fernandez.
Inside Chelsea the mood is gradually lifting and it has been seen with the results in the last three games. Despite goals being an issue, Chelsea have kept three clean sheets which has seen them claim one win and two draws.
The time is now for Chelsea to kick start their season and push on to try and close the gap to those at the top end of the table. A London derby against West Ham is the perfect opportunity, with every single circumstance, to claim all three points and there can’t be any excuses.
Key players are returning, including loan arrival Joao Felix from suspension. Reece James, who is pivotal to Chelsea, is back and likely to start, while a revitalised and new-look attack has the ability to cause real problems for the West Ham defence.
West Ham’s league position of 16th should give Chelsea confidence to get a result, albeit goals and away form have been hard to come by for the Blues. No win on the road since October 2022 is a cause for concern, but Potter’s stance is exactly what they need to do come Saturday afternoon in east London.
“It’s not a statistic that we like and something we are trying to address,” the Chelsea head coach said, when asked about their away form.
A critical couple of weeks await. It could be make or break for Chelsea in terms of how their season ends, with the tie against Dortmund on Wednesday and Premier League clashes against Southampton and Spurs before February ends. Win all four and the mood around the club increases dramatically, while a poor run will mount further pressure on Potter, the squad and Chelsea.
They can build some more momentum with all three points against the Hammers, and after a full week together, it’s time for the Blues to step up to the plate and get a winning run going and the bragging rights from the city clash.