And so the latest match in Chelsea’s ridiculous season takes place on Wednesday against Fulham, and if you have lost track of what is happening with the Blues of late, then I really wouldn’t blame you.
Chelsea make the short trip to Craven Cottage for a west London derby of huge significance for them – and, in case you’re struggling to keep up, this one’s in the Premier League.
Chelsea’s last ten fixtures have seen Rafa Benitez’s team compete in three league matches, three FA Cup ties and four Europa League matches as the Stamford Bridge side have endured the most incredible of schedules that has not really helped them in their quest to finish in the Champions League places.
Those ten games have taken place in just 35 days, and with the 11th taking place just three days since Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, Chelsea’s relentless schedule shows no signs of easing.
And even allowing for everything else that is going on at Stamford Bridge – much of which revolves around Benitez – it is clear that the ridiculous run of fixtures is having a detrimental effect on the team. The Spaniard is insistent that he must rotate his squad, and he although he is probably correct, inconsistency of selection is making for inconsistent results.
Those ten fixtures have seen five wins and four defeats, and you are never really sure what Chelsea is going to turn up – the one that deservedly beat Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final replay, or the one that so meekly surrendered to Southampton at St Mary’s.
Inconsistency even comes within the same game (the 2-2 draw with United at Old Trafford springs to mind) and as such I look at the match at Craven Cottage as a potential banana skin for Chelsea.
A win would lift Chelsea up to third, three points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand and in control of the race for the top four, but at 18/25 I don’t want to be backing them to win. Fulham are 7/2, with the draw at 11/4, and a combination of those two results at 11/10 is my play.
Fulham are safe after a bit of a mid-winter struggle, so with the pressure on the visitors the Cottagers can get a result. They have lost just one of their last seven matches, conceding just five goals.
But it is Chelsea’s up and down form which is the basis of the bet. Benitez has overseen just 13 wins in the 27 matches the Blues have played in 2013, and their away form has been poor for some weeks.
Chelsea have won just two of their last 11 away games – at Championship Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and Sparta Prague in the Europa League – and having failed to beat Brentford, Reading, Steaua Bucharest and Rubin Kazan, I am not going near the odds-on about the away win.
Fulham have a decent recent record against Chelsea, too, with the last five matches ending in draws. There have only been four goals in those five games, so with all the indications it will be tight, you have to side with Fulham to avoid defeat at 11/10 as opposed to the erratic Blues at such short odds.