The Premier League continues to be one of the world’s most expensive leagues, with millions of dollars being spent by each club every year not only to secure new players and managers but also on infrastructure.
The money earned from broadcasters is substantial and therefore, the stakes are high. The effects of ending the season abruptly at this juncture would, therefore, be far-fetching.
This means that the governing bodies cannot immediately take a decision to end the season as has been done in countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The waiting game continues with the teams being told to expect a return sometime in early June. However, a recent report by the BBC reveals that a number of Premier League club doctors have expressed concerns with the bosses over the resumption of the season at this juncture.
What one must understand here though is that cancellation will be the last option that the league hierarchy will consider and therefore, the teams must tell their players to be ready to step in at the shortest of notices.
Teams such as Arsenal, Brighton, and Hove Albion and West Ham United have opened their training grounds to the players. But most clubs are considering measured approaches, with Chelsea being one of them.
The London giants have just come out of a transfer ban which forced their hands last summer and are yet to cope with the loss of one of their prized assets Eden Hazard.
They have a new and an almost untested manager at the helm and it is definitely going to be a big challenge for Frank Lampard to lead his team to a top four finish in his very first season in charge at Stamford Bridge. But the process has been on track so far.
Here we are going to discuss three reasons why it is plausible to think that the Blues might not be able to retain their spot in the top four when the season finally ends.
#1 Frank Lampard’s inexperience at the top level
In spite of the Chelsea legend’s success with Derby County last term, Frank Lampard still remains untested at the top level. It is one thing to play in the Championship, but the Premier League is a whole new ballgame, even more, when you’re fighting with another five or six teams for a place in the Champions League.
The team that Lampard has on offer is not like the one that Jose Mourinho once managed or the one that Avram Grant inherited from the Portuguese. There are a lot of young players such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi who have flourished from the academy and are regulars at Lampard’s side.
They lack the experience that players such as Eden Hazard possessed, and when it comes down to real business, they are as untested as their manager.
Chelsea’s form has been inconsistent this season and in spite of showing some intent during the middle of the season, they had suffered before the campaign was brought to an abrupt halt in March.
As a result, doubts remain as to whether they can hold on to their nerves and get over the line.
#2 A tough Premier League schedule up ahead
Chelsea have nine league matches still left to be played, five of which are on the road and four at home. Two of the nine are against teams from the top half of the table with one being at Anfield against league leaders Liverpool. Manchester City at home isn’t going to be easy in any way as well.
Stamford Bridge hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Blues this season, with Lampard’s men losing five of their 15 games at the venue – a record that will keep the manager worried.
Apart from Liverpool and Manchester City, the Londoners also have Aston Villa, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United away from home, and Wolves, Norwich City and Watford at home to play. It is not an easy round of fixtures by any stretch of the imagination.
#3 Other Premier League teams catching up
At the start of November, following their 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, Chelsea had managed to climb up to the third spot on the league table with nine points separating them from Sheffield United, who then occupied the fifth spot.
However, an inconsistent run of form has made them suffer. Although Chelsea are still in the top four, the gap between them and ninth-placed Arsenal stands at just nine.
Teams such as Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur as well as the Gunners cannot be counted out when Premier League action resumes, given the fact that they are all big teams with a number of high-profile stars at their disposal.
Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United have also managed to take the Premier League by storm this season and their claim to fame cannot just be discounted, and the same goes for Wolves.
On the final assessment, it has to be said that Chelsea have missed their stars this season, and towards the business end of the campaign, their absence could be felt even more deeply.
The governor-general of the midfield, N’Golo Kante has been missing in action with an injury, and while his return following the break could be crucial, the Blues could still find it difficult to handle the pressure of a top four finish.
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