Posted by Barrie on Thursday, 3 December 2009

Carling Cup Exit Plays into Chelsea's Hands

I saw disappointed Chelsea fans last night as they were eliminated on penalty kicks by Blackburn from the Carling Cup.

The cup that most teams have had little interest in over recent years, but Chelsea fans were perhaps hoping to win this one in a desperate need for wanting to build a history, one things that they have been taunted for by opposing big 4 fans for having a bare trophy cabinet.

But this competition may play into their hands now that they've been eliminated. Just like our five senses, when one goes another improves. One competition is over for Chelsea, more focus can be paid on the other 3. And being that the second leg of the Carling Cup semi finals are played during the African Cup of Nations, and the first so close to the start of the competition, Chelsea players may already be on their way. These are two fixtures Chelsea wouldn't appreciate, having to make changes to their first team already during their Premier League campaign with the absentees of first team regulars Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel amongst others. Chelsea's Premier League fixtures however are kind during this tournament.

Not only has that been kind to Chelsea, but the semi final draw that sees Manchester United face rivals City. Will Sir Alex Ferguson stick to his reserves in those fixtures against a City first team? It will be a tough decision, with fan pressure for him not to add a few key and experienced first team players to those fixtures, that potentially upsetting his plans for the league in January. The good news for United is these fixtures come either side of games with bottom half and relegation-threatened sides, which may allow him to put stronger sides out in the cup without dropping points in the league. Although a weakened side at home to Sunderland earlier this season dropped 2 points and Ferguson cannot afford to do the same again.

Manchester United have a good run of fixtures between now and their Carling Cup fixtures which is the making of a long running streak for them to put pressure on Chelsea's lead at the top. The current leaders and Premier League favourites have a trip to Manchester City this weekend, before a run of fixtures they will be fancying their chances of maintaining and even extending their lead at the top before the African Cup of Nations in January.

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