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Blues don’t deserve Champions League spot

The Estadio da Luz is not an easy place to play for an away team, and Benfica created several good opportunities, so Chelsea did fantastically well to leave Portugal with an away goal.

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Blues don’t deserve Champions League spot
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The Estadio da Luz is not an easy place to play for an away team, and Benfica created several good opportunities, so Chelsea did fantastically well to leave Portugal with an away goal.

Though many have suggested Di Matteo fielded an under-strength team against Benfica, I do not agree.  No team could possibly be considered below-par with players like Fernando Torres, Ramires and Juan Mata. However, it looks like Di Matteo has yet to decide on a regular starting 11, so expect squad rotation to be common for subsequent Chelsea games.

On the domestic front, Di Matteo’s side is unlikely to displace Arsenal and Tottenham in the Champions League qualification spots. Overall, it has been a very disappointing league campaign for Chelsea, and they will end up being punished for the poor results they recorded during Andres Villas-Boas’ reign. They simply do not deserve to play in the Champions League next year.

Chelsea will be expected to win their next game at Aston Villa, especially since Alex McLeish’s side has been inconsistent all season. While it might be taxing to play two away games within such a short period of time, fatigue will not be an acceptable excuse for a weak performance. Strong sides like Chelsea are privileged to play in more than one tournament, and players should know that they must perform well in all competitions.

One team that has done well in the league is Newcastle. They have been an absolutely revelation since the start of the campaign. While many have gotten carried away with Hatem Ben Arfa’s recent form, we should remember that he has only just returned from injury. Newcastle’s impressive season should be attributed to how well they have worked together as a team.

There is little doubt that the Magpies have got it right in the transfer market by bringing in Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, but credit must go to Pardew for successfully gelling the side together. The players seem familiar with each other, putting in good performances no matter how he rotates the squad.  

Personally, I believe Newcastle have the potential to do well in the Europa League, but are not good enough for the Champions League.

Alan Pardew’s men will take on Liverpool this weekend. The Reds have been unsteady throughout the season, and it is honestly difficult to know what will happen from one game to the next. This is a game that Liverpool cannot afford to lose. They will almost certainly end up playing in the Europa League next season, and if they were to miss out on winning the FA Cup, the club will be no different from an average mid-table side.

With only 36 goals to show for their efforts, the problem for Liverpool clearly lies upfront. The goals just do not seem to come if Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard are not playing well. However, Suarez is not a regular scorer, and Liverpool would benefit from getting someone more consistent to partner him.

Overall, despite winning the Carling Cup, Kenny Dalglish cannot be pleased with himself. This has been a very poor league campaign, especially since a club like Liverpool should be in the top four of the Premier League. A good league performance outweighs other domestic cup competitions, especially if it gains the club Champions League qualification.
(Liverpool and England International Steve McMahon is a football expert with ESPN)

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