What does Chelsea need to do to qualify for Champions League?

Chelsea are facing an uphill battle to qualify for the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League. After a poor start to the Premier League season, Chelsea find themselves off the pace in the race for a top four finish. With over half the season still to play, what does Chelsea need to do to turn their season around and secure Champions League qualification?

In the opening paragraphs, some key questions are:

– What position are Chelsea currently in the Premier League table?
Chelsea are currently 8th in the Premier League table after 12 games.

– How far behind the top four are they?
Chelsea are 8 points behind 4th placed Tottenham with over half the season remaining.

– Why have Chelsea struggled so far this season?
A combination of factors, including a disjointed pre-season under new ownership, injuries to key players, issues with new signings bedding into the team, and manager Graham Potter implementing new tactics and strategies.

Review of Chelsea’s Season So Far

Chelsea began the campaign full of optimism following a busy summer transfer window that saw high profile arrivals like Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella brought in under the club’s new ownership. However, Chelsea’s pre-season preparations were far from ideal, with a lack of available players due to international commitments disrupting manager Thomas Tuchel’s plans.

Chelsea started the season slowly, with no wins from their opening three Premier League matches. This led to friction between Tuchel and the new owners, resulting in Tuchel’s surprise sacking in early September. Brighton’s Graham Potter was swiftly appointed as his replacement.

Potter initially struggled to get a tune out of the Chelsea squad, with injury issues also hampering the team. Defensive issues have plagued Chelsea all season, with just four clean sheets in the Premier League so far. New big money signing Wesley Fofana suffered a serious knee injury in early October that has ruled him out until 2023.

Going forward, Chelsea have struggled for consistency in front of goal. New striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started brightly but has since suffered a dip in form, while the likes of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling have failed to produce regularly enough.

At the World Cup break, Chelsea sit 8th in the Premier League on 21 points, 8 points behind 4th placed Tottenham. Chelsea’s form has been too inconsistent and they face an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.

Chelsea’s Record Against Top Four Rivals

Chelsea have struggled in matches against the current Premier League top four of Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Newcastle this season.

The Blues suffered a 4-0 demolition against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and were fortunate to only lose 1-0 away at Arsenal in November. Chelsea put in an improved display against Tottenham but still fell to a 2-0 home loss in August.

Chelsea managed creditable draws away at Liverpool and at home to Manchester United, but were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at Leeds United.

Chelsea’s results against the teams above them in the table highlight why they are off the pace in the race for the top four. The Blues’ defensive vulnerabilities and lack of attacking ruthlessness against the league’s best teams has cost them dearly.

Injuries to Key Players

Injuries to key players have severely hampered Chelsea’s starting XI and squad depth this season. Long term absentees like Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante have deprived Graham Potter of some of his best players.

Fofana and James provide pace, strength and quality on the right side of Chelsea’s defence, attributes sorely lacking in their absences. Chilwell had started the season in good form before suffering a hamstring injury. World Cup winner Kante is hugely missed in midfield.

Other injury blows like the recent knocks to Raheem Sterling, Carney Chukwuemeka and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have further depleted Potter’s options. Playing through this injury crisis has visibly affected Chelsea’s performances and results. Getting key players fit again could revive Chelsea’s season.

New Signings Taking Time to Settle

Chelsea’s cluster of new signings have so far struggled to make a major consistent impact. Raheem Sterling started promisingly but his form has since faded. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made an early goalscoring impact but has looked rusty and lacking confidence recently.

Kalidou Koulibaly has shown glimpses of his quality but the centre-back has also made mistakes leading to goals. Wesley Fofana barely featured before injury struck. Memphis Depay is yet to arrive. Denis Zakaria has flitted in and out of the team without cementing a starting role.

It was always going to take time for Potter to mould such a radically reshaped squad into a cohesive unit. Greater familiarity between new signings, their teammates and Potter’s tactics should help improve Chelsea’s form going forward. But their struggles so far have contributed to Chelsea’s underwhelming season.

What Chelsea Must Do to Qualify for Next Season’s Champions League

It is a tall order, but far from impossible. Here is what Chelsea need to do to overhaul the 8 point gap to the top four and secure Champions League qualification:

Improve Results Against Rivals

Chelsea must take more points off the teams above and around them in the table. With two league games remaining against Tottenham, one against Manchester United and another trip to Newcastle, Chelsea have opportunities to directly chip away at the teams above them.

But they must replicate the kind of gritty resilient displays that earned draws at Liverpool and against Man Utd earlier in the season. Sharpening up their attacking play and being more clinical in front of goal will also help see off their rivals.

Tighten Up Defensively

Chelsea have one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League top half this season. Graham Potter needs to fix his backline, whether by tweaking tactics, personnel or both. Getting Reece James and Wesley Fofana back fit will be a major boost.

But improving Chelsea’s defensive solidarity across the entire team is required. Sitting deeper, maintaining their positional discipline, and cutting out individual errors must be priorities.

Get Key Players Fit

N’Golo Kante’s return to fitness after the World Cup could be perfectly timed to boost Chelsea. Getting Reece James and Wesley Fofana back to partner Thiago Silva will also be huge. Ben Chilwell should also return soon to provide another attacking threat down the left.

A near fully fit squad will not only improve Chelsea’s starting XI, but crucially give Graham Potter better options to rotate his team to cope with fixture congestion later in the season. Keeping players fit could make the difference in piping teams to the top four.

Back Graham Potter in January Window

Chelsea’s new owners must back Potter with new signings in the January transfer window. With the club unable to sign players last summer until late into the window, Potter has not been able to shape the squad in his image yet.

January recruits carefully selected to suit Potter’s style could give Chelsea the impetus needed to qualify for the Champions League. Priority areas should be a central midfield anchor player and a dynamic box-to-box midfielder to sharpen up their play.

Cohesion Between New Signings

It is critical that Chelsea’s existing squad and new signings start to gel together as a unit. The more they play together, the better their familiarity and understanding will become. This in turn should translate into improved results.

Potter needs to settle on a core group of starting players across defense, midfield and attack. Greater cohesion, partnerships and team chemistry will happen the more Chelsea’s squad core plays together week-to-week. Their quality should tell in the end.

Unleash Mykhailo Mudryk

Chelsea paid a huge $108 million fee to sign explosive Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk in January. The 22-year-old is arguably the most exciting young attacker in Europe right now.

Unleashing Mudryk’s dribbling skills, pace, directness and creativity on the Premier League could give Chelsea the extra stardust they need in the final third. Mudryk could be the wild card that turns draws into wins for Chelsea.

Chelsea’s Favorable Remaining Fixtures

Chelsea do have some advantages and opportunities in their remaining Premier League fixtures this season. The run-in sees them face many teams in the bottom half of the table.

If Chelsea can tighten up defensively and improve their attacking play, they should be able to take maximum points off these opponents:

Opponent Fixture Date
Fulham February 3
West Ham February 11
Southampton February 18
Leicester City March 4
Bournemouth March 11
Everton March 18
Aston Villa April 1
Crystal Palace April 8
Fulham April 15
Brentford April 22
Brighton April 26
Nottingham Forest May 6
Leeds United May 13

If Chelsea can take 25-30 points from these winnable fixtures, that could be enough to elevate them into the top four.


It will be very difficult for Chelsea to salvage a top four finish from their current position, but it is still achievable. Graham Potter faces a huge challenge to fix their defensive issues, get his attackers firing consistently, and pull his new signings together into a cohesive unit.

Chelsea still have the attacking talent to mount a charge up the Premier League table. Key will be defensive improvements, returning stars from injury, backing Potter in January, and gelling as a team. If Chelsea can build momentum and take points off their rivals, the favorable run-in could see them into the Champions League positions. After a rocky start, the Blues can still save their season.

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