Arsenal were fortunate to survive a second-half onslaught against Napoli to progress to the Champions League last 16. They cannot afford a repeat against Man City...
Jose Mourinho might be unhappy with the low number of goals from his strikers, but Nick Miller argues that he doesn't have to worry, because the goals are still coming...
There is such a thing as winning a game too easily. As Tony Gale put it at the end of the 4-0 win in Bucharest: "The only worry for Chelsea is that Steaua become the whipping boys of the group and everybody gets a good victory here. But hopefully for Chelsea they'll nick something off of Basel, I can't see it coming off of Schalke."
Jose Mourinho can only be pleased with a victory after the shock of Basel's triumph at Stamford Bridge. Ramires's display deserved to be capped with goals, Andre Schurrle had an easy target but made the most of Daniel Georgievksi's comic ineptitude, while that Juan Mata looks like he could make an impact against stronger opposition. True, fate toyed with Fernando Torres, swapping lengthy ban for possible injury lay-off, but without him, Daniel Sturridge or Romelu Lukaku (or Kevin De Bruyne), Chelsea scored four times. They left Bucharest with a sense of having done everything they could.
But that was not enough. Or possibly too much. Or both.
First, it was not enough to lift them into a qualifying place, despite Basel's defeat at home to Schalke. The tables on Uefa's own website mystifyingly elevated the Blues on the basis of goal difference but if teams finish level on points at the end of the group stage then head-to-head records are the first way of breaking a tie.
Basel's qualifying hopes were hit by Schalke's victory at St Jakob Park - and while it was not quite an Ozil, what a goal from Julian Draxler - but the Swiss side now face Steaua away and then home. And the Romanian champions' morale, after conceding seven goals without reply, has been badly damaged. Chelsea can take control of Group E in Gelsenkirchen next time out by beating Schalke but there is a reasonable chance that the Blues' fate will be settled on their own trip to St Jakob Park on matchday five, when they could be facing a Basel side with nine points in the bag.
Second, if the events at Old Trafford in the past week have taught us anything, it is that winning one match in a cup competition, even against decent opposition, cannot obviate the possibility of getting plunged back into trouble by the next result. There is every possibility that Chelsea will win at Carrow Road on Sunday, but if Norwich get any kind of result then Mourinho could spend the international break out of the automatic European places as well as outside their Champions League Group qualifying slots.
Raphael Honigstein on ITV's round-up show spoke what you hope is the truth when he said that few journalists were taken in by the 'Happy One' image Mourinho tried to project at his second coming press conference. Still, even for sceptics, Monday's walk-out over some pretty harmless questions indicated a heightened level of tension with the leaves still on many of the trees, and it cannot have been caused by worries about this particular challenge. Nor can it have been relieved by the subsequent victory.
The first of the Schalke games is not until October 22 and the Bundesliga side do not travel to Stamford Bridge until November 6. It could be a restless few weeks.
"Ian James there spectacularly missing the point" Looks like you're following my lead. Whining about Chelsea 'not getting enough credit' while the whole of the sporting media fills the pages and ether with adoring press about the top four clubs? Anyone would think it was a lower-league club scraping a draw against a Premier League outfit in a cup game. Do me a favour. Scour everything else to find positive press about Chelsea, because it's there.- IanJames