Chelsea's Diego Costa

Avoiding banana skins is the key

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The only way is up for Chelsea. Picture: Action Images


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

After a superb spell of nearly nine hours without conceding, while scoring 16 themselves – many in spectacular goal-of-the-month style, Chelsea are undoubtedly one of Europe’s in-form sides.

Which makes Sunday afternoon’s trip to Middlesbrough a potential banana skin.

The grim games against Arsenal and Liverpool are starting to fade from the collective memory; replaced by the scintillating demolition of Everton.

Chelsea have a real chance to start putting daylight between the top sides and chasers, especially as United play Arsenal this weekend.

Then the likes of Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City have awkward Champions League commitments while Chelsea (and Liverpool) can spend weekdays recovering and preparing for domestic action.

If, by Christmas, the Blues and the Reds are still at the top of the Premier League tree, the coming weeks will prove pivotal.

Manchester City and Arsenal each play 10 games between now and the new year. Chelsea play just eight.

But back to more pressing matters. Boro have been staging something of a revival in recent weeks, recording draws against both Arsenal and City, and beating Bournemouth.

In fact, only one team outside the top five has done better than Boro’s most recent sequence.

But the current stats also show that Captain Haddock is king of the heap. Yes, Diego Costa tops the scorers’ table with nine goals and three assists.

Better still, he’s been harried by Eden Hazard on seven.

Chelsea simply have to maximise points in the next few weeks.

Glancing way ahead to April and May, Liverpool have the softest of run-ins, facing Bournemouth, Stoke, West Brom, Palace, Watford, Southampton, West Ham and Boro in their last fixtures.

No wonder Scousers have a strange grin on their faces.

A lot can still happen, of course, and Manchester City will be tightening the screw, but already the floodlit match at Anfield on New Year’s Eve between Liverpool and Chelsea is looking critical.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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