So what are the chances that Rafael Benitez will be the third successive Chelsea manager to bite the bullet following a defeat to West Brom?
Both Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo were axed after losing Premier League games to the Baggies – even if the Italian survived long enough to oversee a subsequent 3-0 thumping by Juventus in the Champions League – and Benitez has moved himself closer to the trap door with his blast at all and sundry following the FA Cup win at Middlesbrough on Wednesday night.
Benitez confirmed what we already know – that he’ll be gone by May – but his tirade has further enraged the Blues support and bwin have him at 11/25 to be out of the job before the close of the campaign.
With a top-four finish imperative for the club, Chelsea can ill afford any more unnecessary dropped points and with chief rivals Tottenham and Arsenal squaring off on Sunday, the European champions must take maximum advantage against the Baggies.
Roman Abramovich has notoriously acted quickly and ruthlessly when Champions League qualification has been under threat and anything other than a win on Saturday may move Benitez’s position from ‘untenable’ to ‘completely and utterly untenable’.
As far as it goes, this is a must-win game for Chelsea, not only in terms of stealing a march on their north London rivals but because anything other will surely lead to the dismissal of Benitez, and quite what that would do to the Blues’ season is anybody’s guess.
I certainly can’t imagine Benitez dodging the axe if the Baggies get anything and by the sounds of it, the brainless Chelsea mob who are doing their level best to drive him out of the club are planning to further derail things this weekend.
While the Spaniard’s team selection, tactics and substitutions have raised more eyebrows than the Guardian crossword, I have to agree with what he said about the fan abuse not helping the side.
I’ve seen Chelsea at home plenty of times since November and they appear uncertain and wrought with tension and it’s no wonder their form at Stamford Bridge is sketchy.
The boo boys don’t seem to buy into the argument that they are creating problems for the team and as such are planning to shoot themselves in the other foot by continuing the harassment against West Brom.
If these clowns had any brains whatsoever, then they would turn Saturday into a massive sing-along from start to finish, really rallying the side throughout the game and on to the win and then having a post-match protest about the manager.
That seems a simple enough idea to me, but instead, the Chelsea ‘support’ are going to abuse Benitez further and I reckon that is a recipe for disaster.
bwin’s 3Way football betting market still has Chelsea as strong 2/5 favourites for the clash, with the visitors well out at 7/1 and the draw 333/100, and I have a suspicion that there will be enough antipathy around the Bridge to allow West Brom to get something.
Steve Clarke’s men are a decent side in their own right but they’ve lost four of their last six away in the league and will also be missing their – and Chelsea’s – best striker, Romelu Lukaku.
But this will be more about them capitalising on Chelsea’s failings and Clarke will know that the Blues have only scored in the first half in one of their last seven games, so if they can make it in all square at the break they could then go on to take advantage.
All of Chelsea’s last five fixtures have been 0-0 at half-time and it’s 13/5 for that to happen again, and judging by that logic, a half-time draw/away win double is priced ludicrously high at 29/2.
I can’t see the hosts getting many goals, so the West Brom win with a one-goal handicap is decent at 9/5 and if you are on the Baggies, double it up with Benitez to get the boot before the end of the season at 11/25.
There aren’t too many great prices about for Chelsea and I’m avoiding them this weekend, but if you don’t want to lean either way, any side to win by one goal is a handy 19/10.