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February: A Preview

Chelsea kicked off 2013 with a sub-par run in January, knocked out of the Capital One Cup over two legs by Swansea City and dropping valuable points on the league front.

A London derby victory over Arsenal and a competent showing away to Stoke City were offset by an embarrassing defeat at the hands of basement dwellers QPR, and draws against Southampton and Reading.

An FA Cup draw away to Brentford kept our hopes of retaining the trophy alive, but it was a result that further soured supporters' attitudes towards interim manager Rafael Benitez and raised yet more questions about his short term viability as Chelsea manager.

Heading into February, it's absolutely vital that we get back onto a firm footing in the league by going on a good run of form and solidifying our position in the Champions League places.

We currently sit four points ahead of fourth place Tottenham Hotspur and five ahead of Everton in fifth, and whilst our win over Arsenal has brought us a bit of breathing space, the eight point gap between ourselves and Arsene Wenger's boys could be a lot slimmer come the end of the month if we don't get our act together.

We start this Saturday with a trip to Newcastle United. Alan Pardew's outfit have been disappointing this season, failing to build on last years impressive league campaign, and are currently embroiled in a relegation dogfight.

The Toon have yet again been active in the transfer market, bringing in a gaggle of French talent in an attempt to strengthen their squad and avoid the drop. After parting with Demba Ba, the club has splashed upwards of 17 million pounds on five new signings, and finished January with a vital victory over fellow strugglers Aston Villa.

We return to Stamford Bridge on the 9th for a match against Wigan Athletic. Latics boss Roberto Martinez has had a frugal January transfer window, bringing in young Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez on loan from Manchester United and MLS midfielder Roger Espinoza on a free transfer.

Like Newcastle, Wigan's last league victory came against bottom three side Aston Villa, but the team only picked up two points in January after draws away to Fulham and Stoke City.

Our Europa League début is next on the agenda, with an away trip to take on Sparta Prague in the round of 32. The Czech side are managed by former Sydney FC boss Vítězslav Lavička, who spent five years at the club over the course of three stints during his playing career.

Sparta currently sit third in their league, trailing leaders Viktoria Plzen by just three points.

Three days on from our European tie, we return home for the FA Cup fourth round replay against Brentford. The Bees earned many admirers after holding us to a 2-2 draw at Griffin park, and with nothing to loose they will no doubt be relishing the trip to Stamford Bridge.

We're straight back into Europa League action on the 21st with the second leg against Sparta Prague, and depending on the result in the opening fixture, this match could either be a dead rubber or a tense affair.

We wrap up February's league fixtures with a tough away trip to take on defending Premier League champions Manchester City on the 24th. Our last match against Roberto Mancini's side was Rafael Benitez's first in charge after Roberto Di Matteo's sacking, and it ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

Mancini has refrained from hitting the winter market thus far, but he has parted company with controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli. A 0-0 draw away to QPR was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect January record in the league, and whilst the club currently find themselves trailing Manchester United by seven points they are still very much involved in a title race.

The fifth round of the FA Cup is scheduled to round off the month, and if we progress past Brentford an away trip to take on Middlesbrough is on the cards for the 27th.

Key players

Juan Mata:

The Spanish magician is the fulcrum of our team going forward. With Eden Hazard and Oscar still adjusting to life in the Barclays Premier League, creative responsibility continues to fall on the diminutive midfielder's shoulders and we struggle to notch up victories without him.

John Terry:

Rafael Benitez has been reluctant to throw John Terry in at the deep end as he returns from his injury spell, but the sooner he is bedded back into the starting line-up full time, the better. With David Luiz regularly being deployed in midfield Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic have shouldered the bulk of the centre half duties lately, and have frequently been found wanting.

Petr Cech:

Without wanting to single out stand in keeper Ross Turnbull for our recent woes, the gulf in class between himself and our regular Czech shot stopper has been abundantly clear for all to see. It is imperative that Cech's recovery from his calf injury is expedited, and if he is not immediately available then Henrique Hilario should be given a run of starts in the meantime.

Prediction

On paper February looks like a very tame month in comparison to January's fixture list, and under normal circumstances six points in the league coupled with progression in the FA Cup and Europe would be more or less assured.

Given our current run of form though, it would take a brave man to bank on any Chelsea match this month. With the board rumoured to have spelled out to Rafa Benitez in very plain terms the primacy of the push for a top four spot, expect to see a lot of rotation for the Europa League double header against Sparta Prague.

The away trip to Manchester City at the end of the month will be a real test of our mettle, but if Rafa presides over any more slip ups in the league then he could very well find himself out of a job before our trip to the Eastlands.




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The Journalist

Writer: Lofty 1905 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday January 31 2013

Time: 9:54AM

Your Comments

this is definitely a good one...first of its kind..thanks@Lofty...'ll see if something happens for us before the window closes...I have little hope though....and then i can put febuary into perspective...when I am putting things in perspective regarding my team...i need to mention that my considerations totally excludes...Rafa...call it unrealistic..but its my call....i am not sure he will not be here come summer if he continues to press the acclerator in the path he currently treads...I wish my team the very best of luck...and anything will do for rafa...!..dont like him..honestly!
layorh12
all the french players are leaving france since joey barton started playing there...that guy is genius in making people insane...and about RAFA... .......The word TACTICIAN has been removed from oxford dictionary.....because it cant take all the abuse it has been receving world wide in the name of RAFA....
shlok27
@ shlok27 - Poor Joey lool...either that or St james park should now be renamed little Paris...
JohnnyOz
i see that as three premier league games, Newcastle away, Wigan at home & Man City away...lucky for RB that we only play one home game in February, if he remains! Not really too fussed about the Europa league tbh, i think we should play our academy in that tournament. I'm finding it hard to be positive atm, and that is very unusual for me...Oh well - bring on the Toon. C'mon you chels :)
JohnnyOz
Who watched Essien last night ? U see how foolish we were to loan him out? After this ask urself will Lampard get into the starting line up for Madrid in el clasico? Food for thought!!!!!!!!!!!!
AMENS
@Johnny i think in future France would consider naming Newcastle as their capital...i think most of the french people reside there..
shlok27
No TRANSFER DEADLINE thread on Vc?? Wow.....it shows how unserious our 3 foolishly wise men(Emenalo, Buck and Gourley) have become. This three mugs are killing chelsea, sacked better mangers but gave us shocking one. Loaned out 22 players and leave us with a depth-less squad. How stupid!
munich Glory
@ munich glory - the reason we threw away an 87th minute 2 nil lead to a relegation bound side is nothing to do with the three "wise men" imo...its the manager & the players....That team was more than adequately equipped to have taken all 3 points..
JohnnyOz
It is the boards fault for appointing Rafa the gafa (as shlok says lol) tho' so i suppose the buck stops with them...
JohnnyOz
If rafa lose to newcastle and tottenham win, I have a mind he'll be handed his sack letter the way carlo was dismissed. Carlo look like a genius when compared with tubby, I am not sure is we'll win any of this games except ofcourse if hazard plays and oscar along with mata get there form back, the way they are doing under rdm, only if rdm have insisted on falcao or ba in the beginning of the season, we'll be counting down to lift the BPL by may, oh my oh my
Desmondadonis
He wil win I mean*
Desmondadonis
Come across this email written by @Dansilvs73 to Bruce Buck. —————————————————————————————————————- From: Dan Silver Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 10:56 PM To: <;;;;;;;;; Bruce <;;;;;;;;; Subject: A very upset& disgruntled fan Gentleman As I am sure you are aware 99.9% of Chelseafans are at this current juncture extremely frustrated, angry and upset with the state we find ourselves in. After the euphoria of Munich, we now find ourselves as upset as we were happy. Roman has been quite fantastic for us, that isan understatement, without him the last fewyears which have been amazing would not have been possible. I have been a fan for 33 years and the club have been in my family for 90 years. This is the worst period I have experienced, it tops the play-off defeat to Middlesbrough, 94 Cup Final, Moscow etc. It is not an over reaction I promise, this a measured response from a long term fan. The problem is the manager. His anti-Chelsea diatribes will not be forgotten, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for him but the inept displays,the inept substitutions and tactics and the inability to change a match when teams come and defend is simply not good enough. His presence at the club is divisive, the true fans are angry and upset, he is hindering our progress. We have some outstanding talent at the club, we just need the right manto take us forward - Rafa is not that man. He was unemployed fortwo years post Inter, which to me suggests that he can't cut the mustard, top coaches are not out of work for long unless it's by choice. Substitutions at Swansea, Brentford etc werewrong; Swansea we were 2-0 down & needing goals; you take a chance throw on Fernando, switch to three at the back (they could cope with Michu) and go for it, not centre back for centre back. I am not a qualified coach nor an expert but that change was obvious. In my humble opinion Rafa should go beforehe does too much damage. I don't know if you will even read this or acknowledge me but I am so upset and angry I had to write a measured, sensible email without profanities! Thank you Your Sincerely Dan Silver —————————————————————————————————————- You can follow Dan on Twitter @DanSilvs73 Now considering the frustrations of all Chelsea fans, I'm sure you'll agree this must have been a very restrained email. Now here's the reply, which gives me a little more confidence that they accept the severity of the issue. Not because of what Bruce says, more due to that fact he says anything at all. He could easily have ignored Dan's message and no me would have complained. —————————————————————————————————————- From: "Buck, Bruce M" <;;;;;;;;; Date: 30 January 2013 23:06:06 GMT To: "' <;;;;;;;;; Subject: Re: A very upset & disgruntled fan Dan, Thank you for your email. Contrary to your expectation, I have read it. You will appreciate that I cannot respond to the specific points you raise but the Board and Roman are as frustrated as you are withsome of the recent results. We are all working as hard as we can to change thingsaround. I hope you will continue your support of the club as the boys really need your backing now. Regards, Bruce —————————————————————————————————————-
BlueNigerian
@Blue Nigerian ...thats a nice one..thanks!
layorh12
bluenigerian where do you get that? u sure it's really bruce buck reply?
chelsea44
We should start a petition to get Emenalo out, he is the advisor to the board. If we still had Essien and Mereiles, we would have not have thrown yet another lead away last night. We have not got one midfield player, apart from Mikel that is a natural defender. Does this man not understand that collecting little tricky attacking forwards will not succeed in the Premier League, the Champions League, or any other competition for that man. The club needs to bring in someone with some football experience, before it implodes completely. We are being run like Billy Smarts Circus, it is embarrassing.
Blueheart9
surely it must have been Di Matteo that decided who was part of his 25 man squad or not...hence those decisions i.e RDM, Essien, Meireles would have been RDM's. I'm absolutely sure of that. Having said that I agree that Michael Emenalo doesnt have the pedigree to be Technical director for the European champions (even as dodgy as that sounds - i can hear the reading fans singing...who are ya ...who are ya? as i say that)...He is an excellent scout firstly ( i believe his role should be this at cfc i.e chief scout) and Roman's yes boy 2ndly...he got the Technical Director job becos he could kiss RA's arse the best and the longest lol, but this happens not only in chelsea...even where i work now & previous roles, the better you are at kissing ar*e - the higher you go....#simples
JohnnyOz
I submited an article about us as fans signing a petition or letter on how we would like the club to move forward. Hopefully Merlin will publish it!
european_champions
Its so, so suprising how our season has turned out to be a mess after a promising and electrifying start. The administrative confusion at chelsea is going from bad to worse as the days breaks, it seems everyone associated with chelseafc could do anything. No-one knows who is a scout or a football director, who sign and sell players. What actually is going on?
BlueNigerian
Willian to Anzhi for 34million pounds!!!!!.....now that is what I call SICK!!!!.....very very overpriced...God help us!
layorh12
Piece of good news Hazard wont be doing more than the 3 match bann....best news of today i guess...source:Sky sports
layorh12
JohnnyOz, there is no chance whatsoever that it was RDM who decided the 25 man squad. RDM who used Malouda in both the FA Cup Final & Champions League Final would not have banished him to the U21s.
CobhamBlue
Good news on Eden!
BlueCowboy
They did the sensible thing regarding Hazard i think, there would have been a major outcry if they had extended the ban. @ cobhamblue - we speculate but i think it is more likely that RDM chose his 25 from the pool of players owned by chelsea. excluding Flo becos that was a quasi contractual dispute but all the others imo
JohnnyOz
JohnnyOz you have kept saying this business of RDM being responsible for the transfers of Essien and Miereles..can you provide any shred or iota of proof of this? The fact is 3 days before Miereles was sold to Fernabache RDM played the guy along with Mikel in the best showing of our midfield defensive duo we have had this season against NewCastle. What coach if he knew a player was to be sold would play the player in a major BPL match two days before? On Essien you need to go and read what Essien himself had to say about how his transfer happened. Jose had seen that he would have possible depth issues in the central mid with the sale of Abiol to QPR and the sale of Lass Diara. He also had lingering concerns regarding Ricardo Carvalho who he was thinking of sending out too and Fabio Contreao had an injury then which looked like it would keep him out for some time. Just 2 days before the window closed when RDM was begging the board hand and foot for any striker, Jose called Essien himself asking him if he would like to come to the Bernebeu on loan. Essien was elated and he then asked to be released and the board ratified it. RDm was not even involved in the conversation till it was a fait accompli. Everyone has his faults but for goodness sake if you are going to run down RDM please provide some facts to back up your claims. RDM asked the board for two signings specifically in the summer; Moses and Falcao. He got Moses only by default..the board was all set to get Hulk instead till he pulled his 3rd party ownership trick for even more money than the 37-38m the board was already ready to pay for him. RDMs choice who hasnt done badly despite how many here on VC bad mouthed him. RDMs choice of Moses then saved us some 30m. The same board refused to go for Falcao even after this and despite Athletico reportedly willing to sell before the fateful CWC game. They insisted RDM stick with Torres. Duncan Castle has since revealed that RDM was actually under orders from above to play Torres as our striker pretty much every game and that is why for those few games when Danny was not injured and did get on the pitch he was often not deployed as our CF but on the wings as he had done when AVB was with us. Despite being warned he would lose his job if he didnt start torres against Juve in the second leg, RDM dropped him and was all set to play Danny in the center but just before the match Danny picked up another injury and that was when RDM decided instead to use Hazard as a false 9. Some here want to blame RDM for the situation with Danny forgetting how often the guy was injured this first half of the season and also forgetting that the board was not exactly pleased that the boy had refused to sign the contract extension he had been offered (which he rightly refused as it amounted to career suicide seeing that Torres was always assured starting spot and we always played just one striker anyway). There was a well documented edict from the above to freeze Danny out from his prefferred CF position as punishment for his refusing to sign the contract and Danny was desperate to get out of Chelsea and nearly did by close of the summer window. RDM had little to do with this mess...he had been given orders to select Torres above Danny for the CF position no matter what and Danny knew this wasnt going to change anytime soon which was why he wanted out. Anyone blaming RDM for these decisions without understanding the true underpinnings of what was going on at Cobham either has something personal against the guy or is just not well informed. RDM was not perfect but it is common knowledge that Roman never wanted the guy..he got appointed by default because Roman and the board could not find anyone else and could not convince Pep to cut his sabbatical short. He lacked experience yes but so did AVB and Brendan Rodgers and neither of them is jobless right now and he had us ahead of both those coaches teams and just 3-4 points of the top of the table when Roman decided to axe him. RDM was not perfect but i wont seat idly and let people alter history to fit a narrative that he is responsible for the mess we find ourselves in right now..if you want to apportion blame put it where it rightfully belongs..at the doorstep of Roman and the three amigos.
GabeU
Bad day in office today,was mobbed by manure fans,could have been worse had city,spuds and le arse gotten a better results...definitely not the best of time for CFC fans worldwide*sighs*
Ken4CFC
Hazard will serve only 3 match of which he has served 2. Good news there.
Ohans
Hazard 3match ban only! Wow,thats a huge relief,atlast we ve gotten one over the f.a this time...
Ken4CFC
@ Gabeu...i dont have any inside info to hand about who decides which players stay and which leave but then i highly suspect that neither do you....so really its speculation vs speculation. In my eyes it just feels a bit more realistic bcos Essien had not been playing regularly under RDM...understandably so bcos he wasnt the player he used to be prior to his injury....so maybe he (essien) decided to go elsewhere to get more games... what i have hinted at was that perhaps RDM could have stopped that happening? and he didnt...so i still feel that was his decision ultimately. He could have said essien is a key member of my squad and aint going nowhere, dont think he did Regarding Duncan castle's utterings, i can only say i dont know in what capacity he makes those statements, unless he's a member of the chelsea management. If he's a journalist, then i generally take everything they say with a pinch of salt until proved otherwise. Regarding Meireles, i dont know the details of how that deal materialised but personally i remember feeling that he'd be one of the first to go in the summer, after last season. Game against Newcastle excepted, i didnt think he would be part of the new chelsea look. I was surprised when he was sold at the last minute tho', and i would be very surprised if RDM wouldnt have had a say in that. regarding backing up our suspicions with facts, i'm not sure that is possible in all cases especially in this kind of situation where all we have is hear say/media gossip. I would think that even your statements around what may or may not have happened are purely speculative so that puts us in the same boat. Some speculation is just more believable than others, but i suppose it depends on how individual minds works. Mine is very logical & analytical, (2 guesses as to what i do for work lol) and i just believe that any manager that comes in and absolutely has no say in the squad or who he picks for the team, in all likelihood has already failed. Regarding RDM, i have tried to clarify that he is my hero, but i wont have a player as chelsea manager just because he is one of the best players to have played in a chelsea short and turn a blind eye to his shortcomings as a manager because he was appointed prematurely in his managerial learning curve. Clearly Rafa's record is even worse than RDM's after 12 premier league games but neither of these records is title winning form. Anyhow, if as you say this is how things operate at CFC, then managers would be best advised to stay AWAY. I still struggle to believe that our club is run in such a cynically autocratic fashion....
JohnnyOz
and for anyone that says RDM won us the Champions league & FA cup, i'd say Touche, which is why he got the job permanently and deservedly so...i think Roman prefers his managers to have experience and was waiting for any slip to get rid of RDM - his choice! He's the one that has invested his 15% of his worth into CFC and i'm not going to sit here and advise tell him how to run his company. All i can say is wise up Roman Abramovich & quickly - times are changing....but i'm certainly not going to jump on the bandwagon of those asking for him to leave chelsea FC....Never ever
JohnnyOz
Breaking news: According to FA....QPR will be starting their own premier league from next season...Because they way they are going... till the transfer ends they would have signed each and every player from the planet.." so FA will be facing big competetion from QPR next season..
shlok27
Roman and chelsea showing a new side...Stubborn, resolute and stoic!!!....apparently no one is coming in...we are stuck in now and can only hope for the best.....
layorh12
This isn`t about last night, it`s about how our club is run from the top. Roman`s heart is in the right place and he got lucky with the quality of player both Ranieri and Mourinho brought into our club, backed up by Peter Kenyon, the best in the field at his job at the time. After Jose left, our team has been getting weaker and weaker as each year goes by. Buck, in his very own words `he just got lucky to find himself in the position he is in`. Therefore he is nothing more than a front man for Roman. Gourlay is certainly not Peter Kenyon and has been promoted from within, from stadium manager. So we can`t blame those two for player purchasing and team affairs. Michael Emenalo is completely responsible for team affairs, liasing between Roman and the manager, whoever that might be at the time. Could you actually imagine Pep having to report to Emenalo, it`s laughable. This season, the only surprising thing about us imploding, is that we are actually surprised about it. Everyone could see, that once we stupidly got rid of both Essien and Meireles, we had no one to ever close a game down., except Emenalo did not identify that. For a major club to actually employ an individual, with no experience in constructing a squad good enough to compete on all fronts, is madness, it is a very difficult task. Between our owner and his `Technical Director` it is failing spectacularly. And believe me, this is only the beginning, managers are asking for replacements in certain areas and not getting them, We go back to Jose, who complained about exactly the same thing. I don`t like Benitez, but the decisions that are continually being made above his head, is the real issue that needs to addressed and very quickly. We could get the best manager in the World to come and manage our club and nothing will change. Unless Emenalo is replaced from such a vital role the fiasco will continue.
Blueheart9
I dont seem to understand myself any longer, I am here checking different blogs hoping somthing will happen before 11pm...am I crazy or somthing?...i need to condition my mind now....
layorh12
If we dont sign anyone, it may be hard to make top 4 especially if Ivory Coast are not able to destroy Nigeria and Luiz, Cech remain injured.
SameX
@Blueheart9; Touche..I have nothing against Emenalo..he appears to be a good scout but he has not shown the chops nor does he have the experience on his CV to be director of football operations for a side the stature of Chelsea. @JohnnyOz i am glad that you have admitted that your statements regarding RDMs role in the transfers of players is speculative. Duncan Castle though a journalist obviously has an inside Snitch in Cobham. Over the last 3-4 years everytime he has said something regarding goings on in our club or major issues within days events show him to be exactly on the money. Others here who know about him can attest to this and i have actually written a few articles referencing things he said including the situation with AVB and RDM. He made the calls regarding their firings days before they happened and detailed what the underlying issues were and he has always on these matters been dead accurate and so referencing him is more than just speculation. Also Essiens account of how his transfer happened in publicly available to be read..he never mentions RDM in it. I do agree with you that RDM did not help his case by being a good company boy and not publicly complaining and making his own case. He quietly accepted what he was given but that i think is for several reasons; 1. He probably felt he did not have the clout someone like Jose of Hiddink did to go up against the club hierachy.2. His love for the club may have hindered him from being willing to wash her dirty linens in public but most telling is probably 3. Like Carlo the guy is a gentleman and not a hustler..and that may have been his greatest fault. To be Chelsea manager under Roman and the three amigos you cannot be a gentleman..you need to be a vocal hustler and despite everything Rafa has got wrong he has got that right. He will make sure that if this ship goes down he wont go silently..he has been kicking and screaming about all the squad deficiencies while clearly making contigency plans for his career once May comes. RDM i hope has learnt his lesson. It is very hard to get by especially as a young up and coming manager if you dont have a board that wants and supports you and clearly RDM didnt have that luxury..i had actually said after the may 19 win when the flirting of Roman with Pep became so blatant and obvious that RdM should have moved on a taken a job elsewhere...he would have been able to ride into the sunset on a high and not have Roman and his amigos tarnish his reputation and resume. His love for Chelsea blinded him and he paid the price. He certainly didnt stay for the money..compared to other Chelsea managers of recent memory he was paid like a pauper relatively speaking.
GabeU
still wondering which premier league club just triggered diame release clause...i think it'll be arsenal...
layorh12
folks abandoned vital chelsea on transfer deadline.....these are really strange days....obviously a paradigm shift at the club...hmm....m still surprised!!!!.....
layorh12
layorh12 - think because there is no news. no transfer, no loan recalls, just endless depressing slide into mediocrity :( sad times
Clingy
@Clingy....you got me laffing hard...your post made my evening..m off to bed...very boring transfer deadline...a loonnnng loooong season ahead...God have mercy!!!!
layorh12
lol chin up ol son
Clingy
I'm feeling confident, Torres under the careful nurting and guidance of rafa will see us through this tou-----HAHAHAHAHA we are so Fuicked!
Clingy
Whoever it was who wanted Torres is an idiot. £50m for a 27 year old. He will turn 29 this March. What a waste of money.
foreign_viewer
Well,we are stuck with this bunch till may. Lads,right now,the best we can do is just scream our heads off and help the team as much as we can. Leave your expectations at a minimum and save yourselves the heart-breaks whenever they happen. Thats the motto for the remainder of this season.
3nity
come on you blues! keep faith , wasn't all going tits up last season? sixth place , keep believing! it's just our fair share of luck being thrown back at us....we will next season with JM as coach , 100% sure.
CFCTalal
No signing whatsoever, it is frustrating, but on a positive note, our youngsters who went out loan would have better chance challenging for the first team next season. A striker big as a fridge. Thibauting waves at the bridge. I would take that. Keep believing
Gaban
I think the fans wouldnt be so p****d off with the club if there was some dialogue with the board as to what exactly are our future plans. I don't care if we win a trophy in the next 3 years as long as there is a direction that we're going in, some sort of plan. We've won Leagues, we've won the Champion's League, now as a club we need stability. We have potential for a world dominating side but only if we have a good plan for the future
european_champions
our best transfer would be the day when torres rafa malouda move away from chelsea....along with benayoun ferera turnball...but rafa and torres tops the list n that they are our no1 priorty in summer..
shlok27
We now need to hold it up and remember we did not do more business in january save for Ba. We then need to hold it and expect a miracle, even though we have the players to pull it off.
Kendemsblue
Chelsea can make it to the top but only if they hold on together
Kendemsblue
 

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