Having been removed from third spot in the Premier League by London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, Chelsea and their under pressure manager Rafael Benitez need a victory against Championship side Middlesbrough in their FA Cup tie tonight.
The Blues have been a mixed bag this season. A decent start and a good haul of goals from new signing Eden Hazard and the reliable Juan Mata would have been a delight to the Stamford Bridge faithful.
But, they have since gone on to part company with Roberto di Matteo, the man who guided them to Uefa Champions League glory last season, and replace him with Rafael Benitez until the end of the season.
The decline this season has been incredible, and Chelsea have found themselves out of the Champions League in the group stages, as well as miles off the pace in the Premier League title race. Even the arrival of Demba Ba has not seen them keep the pace with the two Manchester sides in the league.
Their FA Cup game against Boro is a must win for them if they are to redeem themselves. Victory would mean facing Manchester United, who they have already beaten in the Capital One Cup this season. And with The Red Devils running away with the league currently, Chelsea could make amends for this by knocking them out of the competition, and putting a major dent in their treble hopes.
With the chance of this awaiting Benitez and his side, he must be eager to take victory at The Riverside. But even then, United are on good form and are chomping at the bit to replicate the success by the infamous '99 side.
However, Chelsea are by no means a spent force. Frank Lampard is still showing just why the Bridge faithful are calling for a new contract for the iconic midfielder. And with Ba upfront, his sheer presence on the pitch will always be a worry to the opposing defenders.
Chelsea and Benitez desperately need to stay in the FA Cup to redeem for their failings in the League and Champions League.
Although if they should they be eliminated by Championship opposition, Benitez will be feeling the heat from the fans even more than he currently is.
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