Why is This Week Critical to Chelsea’s Season?

After Sunday’s shock loss to minnows Bradford City in the FA Cup, Chelsea are set for a tricky week that could well go on course and decide their fate in the running campaign. Jose Mourinho’s side host Liverpool in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final with the tie evenly placed at 1-1.

Three days later, the Blues take on reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, knowing full well that a win over Manuel Pellegrini’s men could well guarantee the league title come in May. With the transfer window all set to close in the coming days, the Stamford Bridge side have got to make key decisions both on and off the field.

Transfer decisions hold the key: According to today’s reports from Sky Sports, it is believed that Fiorentina star Juan Cuadrado wants to join Chelsea before the winter transfer slams shut. However the Blues will need to pay £26.8m to acquire his services as per Fiorentina owner Andres Della Valle. It is also believed that Chelsea had bid £20.6m for but it was turned down by Florence-based side last Wednesday.

Chelsea however have the financial muscle to make a better offer and land the player who was linked with Manchester United in the summer. But any deal for Cuadrado hinges on the future of Mohammed Salah and Andre Schurrle, the latter who has been linked with Wolfsburg. Thus taking decisions could well decide the future.

Cuadrado no doubt would be a terrific addition for the London side. He is immensely versatile; capable of playing either as a right winger striker or a wing back. His dazzling dribbling ability and raw speed will bring pace to Chelsea’s right wing and a trio of Eden Hazard, Cuadrado and Diego Costa could be unplayable. He is also a brilliant passer with great vision and rarely gives the ball away. His ability to cut inside from the wings and taking on opposition players could be Chelsea’s asset in years to come.

Beat Manchester City and get one hand on the title: Well, let’s admit it! Chelsea will have a clear advantage against a Manchester City side which looks devoid of ideas and travel to Stamford Bridge without their talisman Yaya Toure, who is on International duty at the African Cup of Nations. But Mourinho will have to deal with fatigue setting in his players. Should the Blues be dragged in a 120-minute battle or go into penalties against Liverpool, the players will hardly have time to recover. Keeping the main players fresh will certainly be the upmost importance and Mourinho is more than capable of managing games.

Rotation the key to maintain balance: Mourinho could well use Loic Remy and Didier Drogba against Liverpool and bring on Diego Costa if required. Liverpool’s pace and creativity simply steamrolled Chelsea at Anfield but Thibaut Courtois kept the Blues in the tie with a string of impeccable saves. Chelsea need their defense to be at their best both against Liverpool and Manchester City which could see some changes in the sides. Kurt Zouma could start against the Reds while Cesare Azplicueta playing on the right giving Branislav Ivanovic some well-deserved rest. Rotation is midfield could also be the key which might see Ramires and Mohammed Salah getting games. All in all, Chelsea must make sure they get the job done against Liverpool in regulation time else they risk themselves against the Citizens on the last day of January.

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