Hull City vs Chelsea FC: Time To Refocus


Chelsea FC had the match in their hands. With an hour left to play, tied 1-1 on aggregate — but up due to the away goal rule — and a man up, everyone knew it was Chelsea’s game to lose at home against Paris Saint-Germain.

This was going to be a Mourinho performance. The Blues were going to flood PSG, all the while remaining defensively compact, and cruise to the Champions League quarterfinals.

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Somehow, an hour and a half later, PSG were celebrating on the Stamford Bridge pitch. Somehow, the Parisians, against the odds, had come back from defeat not once, but twice — and then held off the Blues for the victory. Chelsea, despite being a man up, had never pushed PSG, and had in fact looked the worse side after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s sending off.

The next Sunday, after City had lost to Burnley, giving Chelsea the  chance to pull 8 points ahead, the Blues again put in a meandering, mediocre performance, at home vs Southampton. They had the chance to bury City in the title race, and yet they left hope, drawing and extending the lead to only 6 points.

Since the 5-3 loss at Spurs in January, Chelsea have rarely looked the same swashbuckling side that started the first 4 months of the Premier League undefeated. They have continued to grind out results, the PSG loss being only one of two since that Spurs debacle, but the means haven’t been the same.

Cesc Fabregas, clearly the player of the year in the first half of the campaign, has looked lackluster and worn out. Really, the same can be said for nearly all of the Blues, except Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, and the back line.

Oscar, Willian and Juan Cuadrado have all been disappointing, and Nemanja Matic, the star defensive midfielder in nearly all of Europe, has struggled with injures, bans and fatigue.

On Sunday, Chelsea travel to Hull. The game offers the Blues the perfect chance to refocus. Hull sit just three points above the drop zone, and have won just 3 of 11 games since the new year. Last season, they looked impressive, making it all to the FA Cup Final, but this season, Steve Bruce’s men haven’t been themselves, much like Chelsea.

Hull will sit back, almost certainly, and hope to get a point out of the game. The lack of pressure they will bring will allow Fabregas to create like he wants to. Matic won’t have to be patrolling vast swathes of the pitch, because there won’t be anyone there.

Oscar and Willian/Cuadrado can focus on attacking more. Hazard won’t have to worry about being the only play-maker, and he will return to the still brilliant, important role he used to play: complement Fabregas and Diego Costa.

Costa got back to his scoring ways last week against Southampton, and this game could see him add to his impressive league tally.

Overall, Chelsea need to refocus their season. Although the Blues are in the driver’s seat of the Premier League title race, and are focused solely on it after the Champions League exit, they need to make sure that a choke of epic proportions doesn’t occur.

After this trip to Hull, the Blues host Stoke, and then visit London rivals QPR. Although none will be easy wins, they should be 3 points, and will become more important in light of the fixtures to follow: United (H), Arsenal (A), Liverpool (H), split up by Leicester (A) and Palace (H). All — aside from Leicester — will be dogfights, and Chelsea will have to earn every point.

This three game lull (comparatively) provides a calm before the storm for Mourinho to marshal his troops, before the final charge to Premier League glory. Hull is the first chance for the Special One to do that.

Next: Chelsea Website Decries Lack of Penalties