COMMENTARY | Chelsea have added a Cup Final to what was already a busy May schedule.
The Blues defeated Basel 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening, a result that put Chelsea through to the competition's Final that will take place on May 15 in Amsterdam. Their victory wasn't as easy a task as the scoreline would indicate. Chelsea were nearly scored upon in the opening minute of play, and the hosts went into the dressing room down a goal when the final kick of the first half sailed past goalkeeper Petr Cech and into the back of the net.
The reigning champions of Europe showed their true class after the break. Three goals that were notched within the half's opening 15 minutes, including this screamer from David Luiz, seemed to knock Basel out on their feet. Chelsea did well to close out the final half-hour, seeing the 3-1 result through to the final whistle.
Along with attempting to hoist their second European trophy in two years, Chelsea are also looking to return to Champions League. They are currently third place in the Premier League table and on 65 points, two points ahead of Arsenal and three points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea and Spurs have a game in hand over Arsenal.
The first weekend of May does not, on paper, look like it will be kind to either Chelsea or Tottenham. Arsenal will be away to already relegated Queens Park Rangers on May 4. Earlier that afternoon, Spurs will host a Southampton side that is not yet guaranteed to be safe. The following day, Chelsea will be away to Manchester United. United already won the title, but you can be sure that Sir Alex will have his players up for that match.
May 8 could, and likely will, make all the difference regarding which clubs earn Champions League and which side is relegated to Europa League. Chelsea will host Spurs on that Wednesday night. Three days after that, Chelsea will be away to Aston Villa. Villa routed Sunderland 6-1 this past Monday night, and they still may need some points in order to keep themselves out of the drop zone on the final day of the season.
Spurs are away to Stoke City on May 12. Unless several things go against them before that date, Stoke should have nothing to play for on that Sunday. Arsenal will host Wigan, who will be fighting for their Premier League lives, on May 14. Chelsea will take on Benfica in the Europa League Final on May 15.
It could all come down to Survival Sunday, May 19 this time around, for the second straight season. Spurs will host Sunderland, who will, from the Tottenham perspective, hopefully be safe and thus not needing any points. Arsenal at Newcastle United could be interesting if free-falling Newcastle struggle to pick up points in prior matches. Chelsea will host Everton, who could also be chasing after European football on the last day of the campaign.
Of the three clubs fighting to finish above fifth place, Chelsea have the most difficult run-in. Having to play five meaningful matches in the span of about two and a half weeks will stretch any side. It's possible that beating the new league champs and then winning another European title could be the emotional boost Chelsea need to get through their busy schedule. Depending on what goes down this coming weekend, there's also a chance that Arsenal and their supporters will have to cheer on their north London rivals during the May 8 Spurs at Chelsea match.
It's going to be another wild end to a Premier League season.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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