Chelsea FC Season 2013
Chelsea will have forever the ignominy of being the first ever Champions League winners to fail to qualify from the group stage the very next season. That is what happened to the London side after they failed to cope with the power of Italian giants Juventus and tricky Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. It was during their shaky European campaign that they sacked Roberto Di Matteo and brought in former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez on temporary assignment. With frailties in their squad this season, a first Premier League title since the 2010/11 season looks far beyond their grasp, and therefore it could just be a season of consolidation and building for better things in 2013/14.
Chelsea are going to have a fight on their hands from the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton for a top four finish in the Premier League, which would be a massive improvement from their disappointing sixth place result last season. Despite clinging on to a place in the Champions League thanks to their heroic night in Germany against Bayern Munich last summer, they couldn’t take advantage and dropped down into the Europa League for their first crack at UEFA’s second tier club competition. Chelsea will be one of the favourites to lift the Europa League title, because they have one of the stronger sides in the tournament and plenty of European experience behind, them which could translate over well.
The Blues, as long as Rafa Benitez balances his squad rotation well, do not make a bad option to win the Europa League outright, because, with a Premier League title out of the question, the Chelsea staff will be desperate to land a cup and restore some pride. Chelsea open their Europa League campaign with a tie against Czech Republic side Sparta Prague. The two sides have only squared up twice before, both matches coming in the group stage of the 2003/04 Champions League, with Chelsea winning in Prague and drawing 0-0 back in London.
But the FA Cup could represent the best opportunity for Chelsea to get some silverware in the cabinet this term. They have adopted a growing affinity with the knockout tournament in recent times and are the defending champions after beating Liverpool at Wembley last May. Chelsea have won three of the last four FA Cup competitions and will be a team that everyone else wants to avoid, with them being such a strong cup team. Chelsea will remain one of the front runners to land the FA Cup again, openign with a 5-1 thumping of Southamton. There is also a chance of a Wembley appearance in the League Cup after reaching the semi finals in a clash with fellow Premier League side Swansea City.