Not long ago there were wistful suggestions that Chelsea were involved in a relegation battle, but, even after all the travails of an unprecedented season, European football in 2016/17 remains a distinct possibility.
Contesting the Champions League next term looks beyond them, unless they somehow win the competition this time around, but the Europa League is a more than attainable goal.
The Premier League remains concertinaed beyond the top four, with eight points separating Chelsea from Manchester United in fifth, while they are still alive in the FA Cup, in which they face Manchester City in the fifth round.
Manuel Pellegrini’s stated intent to field a young side at Stamford Bridge, with the Citizens’ upcoming continental engagement away to Dinamo Kiev in mind, has contributed to the Blues being as short as 4/5 to book their ticket for the next stage without recourse to a replay.
Third in the FA Cup outright betting at odds of 5/1, behind favourites Arsenal (7/2), Man Utd (9/2) and ahead of Tottenham (13/20), there will remain notable obstacles to overcome even if they eliminate City, but they will be just three wins from continental football next season.
By contrast the aforementioned eight-point gap between Chelsea’s current Premier League berth of 12th and its guaranteed Europa League qualification spot in fifth seems more-easily traversable.
In a form table based on the last six games in the division the Blues sit fourth, behind only Southampton, Tottenham and Leicester.
Hiddink’s charges are currently 100/30 for a top-six finish, odds which could look significantly shorter should they get the better of the Saints on the south coast in in their next league game.
With Norwich to play in the very next fixture there is a real chance for Chelsea to build momentum in their bid to rescue European participation from the jaws of failure this term.