Why this could prove a week to remember for Chelsea fans

Chelsea have the chance to finish top of their Champions League group, while they could be just two points behind Arsenal days later.

Chelsea's defeat to Stoke City on Saturday resonated with quite a few people.

Supporters and neutral observers alike were once again struck by the Blues' worrying fragility in defence, while Jose Mourinho himself was far from amused.

The clamour remains for a new big-name striker at Stamford Bridge, while Chelsea's title credentials both at home and in Europe are taking heavy criticism from some quarters.

But, within the space of a week, Mourinho's side might find themselves in a much better position than the apocalyptic predictions are suggesting.

First up for Chelsea is the chance to win their Champions League group on Wednesday. To ensure they do so, they must beat Steaua Bucharest, a side they trounced 4-0 away from home earlier this season.

To put it bluntly, you would fancy their chances.

It is credit to Mourinho's side that two defeats to FC Basel have not derailed their hopes of reaching the knockout stages. Far from it.

That 4-0 win in Romania, coupled with terrific victories both home and away against Schalke have put them in pole position to land top spot and (hopefully) give them a lighter draw in the last 16.

Three days later, the Blues return home to west London, where they will welcome Crystal Palace.

Now, Palace have certainly turned a corner since the arrival of Tony Pulis (with a little help from Keith Millen) - but this is a side that have been bottom of the Premier League for the majority of the campaign.

A win against Pulis' men would take Chelsea to 33 points in the table, with table-toppers Arsenal travelling to Manchester City and Liverpool also facing Tottenham in the same weekend.

That raises the possibility of Mourinho's men cutting the deficit behind Arsenal to just two points - mere days after qualifying for the Champions League round of 16 with flying colours.

Fate would then be in Chelsea's own hands as they host the Gunners at Stamford Bridge the following weekend.

Hardly a bad situation to be in, is it?

image: © Jason Bagley

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