Sunday 18th March, King Power Stadium – Chelsea made a quick return to action against Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Just four days had passed since their demoralizing 3 – 0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Chelsea had reached the FA Cup quarter-finals after home wins against two Premier League sides: Hull City (4 – 0) and Newcastle United (3 – 0). Before that, they’d struggled mightily to overcome Norwich City on penalties after a slightly vindictive refereeing performance in the third round replay.

Claude Puel’s side had dealt quietly and competently with Sheffield United (1 – 0), Peterborough United (5 – 1) and Fleetwood Town (2 – 0 in the replay after a goalless game at Highbury). Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho was City’s hero in this competition, having scored four goals against Fleetwood and Peterborough.

Antonio Conte made four changes to the team that started at Camp Nou: Willy Caballero came in for Thibaut Courtois, after the Belgian’s entertaining double-nutmeg performance against the Catalan side. Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata replaced Cesc Fabregas and Olivier Giroud in midfield and attack. […]

Barcelona and Chelsea clashed again in the second leg of the UEFA Champions league round of sixteen.

The teams had enjoyed very different fortunes since the 1 – 1 draw at Stamford Bridge in February. Chelsea had been beaten twice in Manchester by United and City, before scraping a 2-1 win vs Crystal Palace at home.

They were fifth in the league, four points behind Liverpool in fourth, and twenty-five points (yes you read that right, twenty-five points) behind league leaders Manchester City.

Barcelona had played four league games to Chelsea’s three, beating Girona and Atletico Madrid 6 – 1 and 1 – 0 respectively at home, and bottom club Malaga 2 – 0 away.

Surprisingly, their one draw had come against relegation-threatened Las Palmas, but the Catalan giants were eight points clear at the top of La Liga Santander with ten games left to play. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were the league’s top scorers at 24 and 21 goals, and all was right with the world. […]

In tonight’s program notes, Roman Abramovich invited Chelsea fans to join him in taking a stand for inclusion and diversity, and saying no to Anti-Semitism. Many supporters will choose to remember the occasion for Roman’s words and leadership – they definitely will not want to think about the football.

Bournemouth took Chelsea apart with deliberate, surgical skill, and frankly, the home team never looked like scoring. Yes, there were mitigating circumstances, and the players let their manager down really. But a three-nil home defeat to a smaller club ten places down the log is always hard to explain. Hopefully, Chelsea don’t find themselves less one title winning manager in the next few weeks. […]

Chelsea were back home in West London for their FA Cup fourth round tie vs Newcastle United.

Chelsea had just managed to scrape past Norwich City on penalties in the previous round, while Newcastle beat Luton Town 3 – 1, Ayose Perez (two goals) and Jonjo Shelvey (one goal) with three first half goals to quickly put the game to bed.

Both teams were coming off recent defeats though – Antonio Conte endured yet another difficult game against Arsenal in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semis midweek.
Newcastle had fallen victim to a Sergio Aguero hat trick at the Etihad, in the previous weekend’s Premier League game. Both Conte and Rafa Benitez would be looking for a positive reaction from their teams today. […]

It was Brighton & Hove Albion versus Chelsea in the early kick-off in the Premier League. Both teams were a little bit goal shy, Chelsea in the last few games, Brighton all season. And both were looking to change that state of affairs in this match today.

Chelsea had recorded five straight draws in all competitions since the start of 2018, three of them goalless. They did manage to beat Norwich City on penalties in their last game, but Alvaro Morata and Pedro both picked up suspensions.

Brighton actually scored more goals in their three games in January (four goals), than Chelsea had in their five games (three goals). The odds weren’t necessarily in Brighton’s favour this fixture, but they had home advantage, and they definitely had the quality to give Chelsea a game. […]

Chelsea were in turmoil, apparently. The players were tired, strikers misfiring, technical directors quitting. Rumours were swirling that another popular title-winning manager would leave soon. Andy Carroll was threatening to sign on a permanent transfer.

And three consecutive goalless draws for the first time in club history. It wasn’t a bad run of results really; Chelsea had stayed in two cup competitions, and gained a point under difficult circumstances in the league. But still, in turmoil by all accounts.

Well… these things happen, and successful clubs find solutions. And Chelsea’s FA Cup replay vs Norwich City was an opportunity to start implementing those solutions.

Norwich City were 13th in the EFL Championship. They’d only played one game since their draw with Chelsea: they beat Bristol City away 1 – 0, which was a pretty decent result considering Bristol were thirteen points ahead of them before their game. […]

After their exertions against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup midweek, Chelsea made a quick return to Premier League football. Their opponents this weekend: eighth-placed Leicester City FC.

Leicester were in relatively decent form; they’d won four and drawn one of their eight league games since the start of December. Their pace and counterattacking style tended to work well against teams at the top end of the league table: the one draw in that run of results was a 2 – 2 vs Manchester United. They also drew 1 – 1 with Manchester City in the league cup, before getting knocked out on penalties.

Chelsea were five places and sixteen points ahead of their visitors overall, but they weren’t that much better in terms of recent form. The London club had five wins and two draws since December; they were only four points ahead of Leicester City in that period of time. […]