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Chelsea now clear favourites for Champions League spot

Juan Mata's deflected goal in Chelsea's 1-0 win at Manchester United moved the Blues one step closer to Champions Leaguq qualification

Juan Mata’s deflected goal in Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Manchester United moved the Blues one step closer to Champions League qualification

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory at champions Manchester United in the Premier League yesterday has made the Blues clear favourites to clinch one of those remaining Champions League spots.

A win against rivals Tottenham on Wednesday would just confirm the fact.

Late

Chelsea’s goal came with just three minutes left on the clock, as Juan Mata’s low drive took a deflection off Phil Jones and beat David de Gea in the United goal.

The goal could be a vital one in the race for the Champions League spots.

Criticism

Chelsea centre-back David Luiz received criticism from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson after the match for his part in Rafael’s dismissal. Rafael kicked his compatriot, only for Luiz to fall to the floor and roll around, reportedly laughing while rolling on the floor.

Rafael’s sending-off did not really have a big impact on the game, but it still annoyed the United boss and probably did not help United’s search for an equaliser.

Superb

I have to say that Juan Mata has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season. His performance against Manchester United may not have been the best of the season, but he played a crucial role in the goal.

In fact, at first glance it did look like it was his goal. The Spaniard is unlikely to get the goal, which I think is harsh. He will just have to be happy with the assist.

Mata movement and intelligence off the ball is a key part of the way that Chelsea plays their game. The 25 year-old now has 17 goals in all competitions and numerous more assists. He is one of the outstanding players in the Premier League and it showed against United.

Closer

I really do believe that with a few key signings Chelsea could be far closer to the Manchester clubs next season, especially if they hire the right boss. The Blues have a squad full of players with major potential and ability.

Jose Mourinho is the favourite for the job at Stamford Bridge and I am sure the controversial Portuguese boss could get the best out of this talented group of players. Chelsea has the foundations of a very good team.

Whoever comes in as the Blues boss in the summer will just need to tweak a few things to make the men from Stamford Bridge a force again, I mean you only have to look at the start the Blues made this season to see how good they can be.

Crucial

The victory against Manchester United was a crucial one. Victory over rivals Tottenham on Wednesday will be an even bigger step to Champions League qualification. The victory would put the Blues six points clear of Spurs with just two games to play, with Chelsea’s goal difference far better than Tottenham.

For a club like Chelsea Champions League qualification is a must. There is likely to be a number of big arrivals at Stamford Bridge in the summer and they will want to be displaying their skills on the major stage. I do not think that Europa League football has the same pull.

Satisfactory

If Chelsea win the Europa League and claim third spot then undoubtedly it should be considered a satisfactory season. The team were in a major transitional period this season and it has not been a terrible season if they do achieve the two aforementioned aims.

Stalemate

Yesterday’s Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield ended in a stalemate. The game was a typically feisty affair and a draw was probably a fair result. One of the major talking points of the game was Everton having a second half Sylvain Distin goal disallowed.

Replays showed that there was not much wrong with the centre-backs effort, yet rookie referee Michael Oliver disallowed the effort. It was a harsh call on the visitors, but the home side did not really deserve to lose the game either.

The draw leaves Everton five points clear of their Merseyside rivals with just two games left to play this season. It now looks likely that the Toffee’s will finish above the Reds for a second consecutive season.  

Will Chelsea seal a Champions League place with a win against Tottenham?

Mon 6 May, 2013
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