With Rafael Benitez heaving a sigh of much needed relief post the Middlesbrough win, Chelsea now come up against their toughest match yet in the FA Cup. Their quarter final tie vs. Manchester United is going to be watched with keen interest by both the Chelsea owner as well as the fans of the London club.
Chelsea did not dominate the match against Boro and it is hard to understand how they are going to provide even a semblance of a fight against the in-form United, a United that are buoyed by their tough encounter and relative success against Real Madrid in the Champions League first-leg.
Reports in the English tabloids claiming of a bust-up between senior players and management staff surely won?t make it any easier for Chelsea. Although Juan Mata has tried to inspire the Blues for a good performance against the Red Devils, it is the Chelsea manager who has the pivotal role to play to motivate a bunch of demoralized players at Stamford Bridge.
No Premier League title, no Champions League, no Capital One Cup this season makes for a sorry figure for the Russian owner. The FA Cup and the Europa League remain the only hopes for some kind of a silver lining in this season of gloom for the fans of the Blues. Rafael Benitez faced a hostile reception from Chelsea fans when he took over mid season from Di Matteo; he continues to be in the line of fire with every loss and the prospect of letting go of the FA Cup is not one to be taken lightly by Chelsea fans and owner alike.
Detractors of the Spaniard will overlook the fact that he has had very little time to reconstruct a Chelsea team to his liking and to the fullest potential. For them this quarter final tie will be the litmus test for keeping or axing Rafael Benitez.
Will the Blue(s) litmus turn to Red soon?