Fixture favours for Chelsea?

The Premier League will have three representatives in the last 16 of the Champions League but one team in blue managed by a certain Portuguese master tactician, Jose Mourinho, should enter that stage fresher than the others.

Clubs in England, often led by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, have bemoaned the lack of assistance they get from fixture compilers when it comes to European competition.

There is a feeling, particularly among those to have worked in La Liga or Serie A etc. that more could be done to aid the pursuit of continental glory by English top-flight hopefuls.

Sides elsewhere are given a helping hand, with domestic fixtures in the build-up to big European games often shifted to give those involved the best possible chance of progressing.

The Premier League have stubbornly refused to relax their stance, with games set in stone early on.

It would, however, appear as though fate is smiling on Chelsea in 2014/15.

The Blues are due to face Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their second round encounter in the French capital on Tuesday February 17.

As things stand, they are not due to be in action the previous weekend, due to their early exit from the FA Cup, with a home date with Everton arriving on Wednesday February 11.

That will give Mourinho’s men a full five days of rest ahead of a meeting with reigning Ligue 1 champions PSG.

The same thing happens for the return date at Stamford Bridge, with there a week between a domestic derby with capital rivals West Ham United and a reunion with Laurent Blanc’s side.

Chelsea will take in two Premier League fixtures and the small matter of the Capital One Cup final between their two European clashes, but they should be fit and firing when it matters most.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise to find that UEFA competitions betting has the Blues as the pick of the Premier League crop to conquer the continent in 2015 at 7/1.

In contrast, Manchester City and Arsenal are available at 14/1 and 20/1, respectively.

It has to be noted that they face tough tests against Barcelona and Monaco, but they will also point to the fact that their schedule is considerably busier than Chelsea’s.

While Mourinho will be calling on his troops to put their feet up ahead of potentially season-defining games, City and the Gunners will be slogging it out in pursuit of precious points.

Manuel Pellegrini will be less than enthused at the prospect of his side meeting Newcastle United three days before tackling Barcelona – in an evening kick-off at the Etihad.

They have no travel issues to worry about, as the Catalan giants will be visiting Manchester on Tuesday February 24th, but it will be a quick turnaround.

It is ahead of a visit to Camp Nou that the problems start to stack up, with City taking in another teatime kick-off on Saturday, against Burnley, before travelling to Catalunya on the Wednesday.

Arsenal are also in action on both of the weekends immediately prior to their Monaco meetings, with a trip to the south of France on Tuesday March 17 preceded by a testing tussle with Manchester United.

Mourinho will have no sympathy with his Premier League counterparts, but even he must concede that the footballing gods have looked favourably upon his corner of west London.

Posted by Natter Football

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