EPL 2012-13: Can Chelsea finish in the top-four?

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London, Feb 4: The champions of Europe are pushing themselves out of the Champions League spot. The way Newcastle fought back to win 3-2 on Saturday showed Chelsea's lacklustre performance and the how they surrendered lead twice in the game.

Chelsea are losing points under Rafa Benitez and they failed to win in their last four games in all competitions. Tottenham closed the gap to only one point after earning three points against West Brom Albion, while Everton and Arsenal are closing in on fifth and sixth place respectively.

EPL: Can Chelsea finish in the top-four?

Benitez has now lost three in 13 league games and he also saw his side sturggling in cup ties against Swansea City and lowly Brentford. Chelsea were beaten by Swansea to make it to the Capital One Cup final and only managed to draw against Brentford in the FA Cup.

Chelsea were not active during the January transfer window, buying only striker Demba Ba, who took a hard knock on his from Fabricio Collocini's boots, and had a bid rejected by Birmingham City for keeper Jack Butland.

They have excellent playmakers in Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, including a well-experienced back-line of John Terry, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech. Frank Lampard has been in good goal-scoring form lately but despite having such players Chelsea have been inconsistent throughout the season.

To become the first European champions to be eliminated in the group stage was a shocker and the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo was a surprise to both fans and players after guiding lift the Champions League for the first time.

Appointing Benitez as the interim manager did not make things better. Fans are still unhappy with the club and have expressed their frustration openly and it looks like the former Liverpool manager will never win over the Blues fans. The Spaniard could have hoped for a better response if they had won the Club World Cup but his side failed yet again.

But it isn't always right to blame the manager for his players performance. Chelsea were shocked against Premier League strugglers Queens Park Rangers and also gave away a two-goal lead twice against Southampton and Reading.

Despite these poor results lately Chelsea remain third, jus one point above Tottenham. The Blues still have tough games ahead with trips to Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Chelsea have a clear chance to claim a spot in the Champions League given that they do not drop points in a winning position but as Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal close in, Chelsea will feel the pressure to remain in the top-four.

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