Chelsea And Liverpool’s Elite Status On The Precipice

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 21: (THE SUN IS RISING. THE SUN IS OUT) Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in … [+] action during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on January 21, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool FC via Getty Images

It was exactly twenty seasons ago that Chelsea faced Liverpool in a Premier League game that achieved legendary status.

The final match of the 2003/04 season was a winner-takes-all tie that decided who would qualify for the Champions League the following year.

While the west Londoners’ impressive 2-1 win will be fondly remembered by those of the Chelsea persuasion, it was what happened next that made the occasion even more significant.

We didn’t know it at the time, but the Blues were drowning in a sea of ​​debt for living beyond their means and in dire need of help.

Fortunately, a Russian billionaire named Roman Abramovich had considered buying a Premier League soccer team that had recently set up in the UK.

Abramovich not only wanted a football team as a trophy asset, but planned to make whoever bought it a global powerhouse.

Chelsea, he decided, was the team for him.

As soon as his deal to buy the club was completed, he set about making his dream a reality.

Millions of pounds were lavished on new signings and continued as the trophies began to roll in the trophy cabinet at Stamford Bridge.

But legend has it that if it wasn’t for Jesper Gronkjaer’s winner against Liverpool in May 2003, Chelsea’s rise to multiple Champions League winners would never have happened.

There are even suggestions that Liverpool would have been the Russian owner if the result had gone the other way.

Two decades later they met in much less favorable circumstances.

A scrappy 0-0 draw on Saturday 22nd January did little to help the two teams who currently sit 8th and 10th in the table.

As the season moves into the halfway point, Liverpool and Chelsea are 10 points adrift of the Champions League places, not an insurmountable total, but much further than they have been in recent years.

If it was just points the clubs need to claw back then that would be one thing, the problem is that both sides’ form has been patchy at best this season.

“We can’t qualify for the Champions League if you play as inconsistently as we do at the moment,” Klopp said in October, “we have to fix it and then we’ll see where we finish. We know anything is possible. or many things are possible, but for that we have to win football matches and we still haven’t done it often enough”.

But the improvements haven’t happened, the Reds have struggled to string results together and teams weaker than Chelsea are still capable of getting them.

At Stamford Bridge, the situation is worse, Graham Potter has been in the job for a few months, but there is already talk that his position is in danger.

“There are always questions if you don’t get results,” Potter said this month. “I was under pressure after two defeats before the [World Cup] rest, that’s from the media. As far as the board is concerned, I have had full support. They have been very reassuring. But I’m not naive and if someone I work for thinks the problem is mine they have every right to say, ‘Thanks a lot, but it’s not working’ and I accept that.”

There will be nerves in the boardrooms of both clubs. Not just because of their own team’s struggles, but because the two new teams replacing them in the top four look to be in it for the long haul.

Arsenal and Newcastle United

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes have been linked with a move to Manchester United … [+] the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on January 3, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Offside via Getty Images

It’s remarkable to think that just a few months ago commentators were still viewing Arsenal’s results through the prism of whether it would also be beneficial to their Champions League qualification.

As the season enters its second phase, the analysis is whether the Gunners can maintain the form needed to deliver a first Premier League crown in more than a decade.

A collapse that would see them squander a substantial lead over Tottenham Hotspur last May seems like a slight hiccup for Arsenal to somehow miss out on qualification now.

The 18 points that Liverpool and Chelsea need to recover to catch the Gunners is an almost insurmountable task.

Looking ahead, even if Arsenal fail to win the Premier League this season, it’s hard to imagine them having the talent exodus that would suddenly weaken the squad next season or suddenly capitulate.

Given the age profile of Arsenal’s squad, the rest of the Premier League should expect them to be a Champions League contender for the foreseeable future.

But a bigger problem for Chelsea and Liverpool in the long term is Newcastle United.

When the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund took over the Magpies in October 2021, many predicted that the club would start to challenge at the top of the table.

However, with the club languishing in the relegation places, the feeling was that it would take many transfer windows and several seasons before they would challenge for the top four.

This season the club has surprised everyone by transforming from a fighter to a real contender.

The fear of rival clubs comes from the knowledge that with the financial backing the club now has Newcastle will be a challenger from now on.

“I think it was tough every year, to be honest,” Jurgen Klopp said of qualifying for the Champions League.

“We all knew Newcastle would be a big challenge from now on and it’s clear with Man United, Arsenal playing an outstanding season. [and] city [being] City, suddenly you have four busy teams [the Champions League]Tottenham fighting hard, Chelsea still there.

“We’re back in the top six or top seven if you like, and only four can get there. We know that, we absolutely know that.”

The danger for both Liverpool and Chelsea is that they find themselves at the bottom of those six or seven teams.

Source: Chelsea And Liverpool’s Elite Status On The Precipice

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