Chelsea thrashed Preston North End 4-0 last Saturday to reach the fourth round of FA Cup. Armando Broja, Raheem Sterling, Thiago Silva and Enzo Fernandez scored for the Blues to complete an emphatic win.
It was a resounding win for the Blues, who have not had too many emphatic wins this season so far. Although Preston are not a very formidable opposition, the big win should offer some solace to Mauricio Pochettino.
Chelsea should target FA Cup success
With no European football for Chelsea this season, they should target success in domestic competitions. However, their league campaign has been quite ordinary this season, with the team currently in 10th position with 28 points from 20 matches.
As a result, it will be difficult for Chelsea to finish inside the top five and thereby ensure participation in Europe next season. Therefore, it will make sense for them to target success at FA Cup. Most of the other big teams are likely to have more focus on Premier League and UEFA Champions League. That should provide the Blues with an outside chance at FA Cup.
Should they get a relatively easy opponent in the fourth round, they will back their chances of reaching the semifinal at least. The Blues last won the competition in 2018 and it is about time for them to repeat the act.
Chelsea’s aerial prowess came to the fore against Preston
Chelsea scored a couple of goals through headers against Preston. Thiago Silva’s ability to score goals from corners has long been an asset for them. Broja is also quite adept in the air and it provides them with another viable option upfront.
Moreover, Sterling, who was quite inexplicably overlooked for the European Championship by Gareth Southgate, keeps proving his worth. A wonderful goal from a free-kick and an assist from inside the opposition penalty box helped him make his mark on Saturday. The 29-year-old now has seven goals and four assists this season already.
Tricky fixtures coming up in the league
Chelsea has Fulham, Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers as their three next opponents in the league. Each of them could potentially be a tricky fixture, as Fulham have beaten Arsenal recently.
Even the staunchest of the Blues’ supporters will be willing to bet for their team in the match against the mighty Liverpool. However, the Reds will be without the services of Mohamed Salah and it might provide Pochettino’s team with an outside chance in the match.
Hence, Chelsea will have to do well in the matches against Fulham and Wolves to stay in the race for a top five finish. They should target to have at least 10 points from their next five matches to be in contention for a European spot domestically.
With the kind of money they have spent in the transfer market, a place in Europe is the least their supporters will expect. However, should they fail to reach that goal, a success at FA Cup could prove to be their redemption.
They could also attain a position in European football by winning the EFL Cup. However, winning the league cup would give Chelsea entrance to the UEFA Europa Conference League’s playoff round, which would not seem attractive to the club. Anything short of participation in the Europa League will be deemed a failure for Pochettino’s side, with an FA Cup trophy assuring them entry to UEFA’s second tier club competition.