Chelsea: Early Champions League exit is domestic gift

Chelsea’s Champions League flop may prove to be worse news for Man City than the Premier League leaders…

We’re not going to kick Chelsea while they are down – everyone else is having plenty of fun doing that already. Instead, this column will provide Blues fans with the positive spin to their Champions League round-of-16 elimination courtesy of Paris St-Germain’s ten men.

Did you know that none of the last three Premier League winners – and just one of the previous five – went beyond the round-of-16 in their title-lifting year? Chelsea lead Man City by five points with a game in hand and are 1.162/13 to extend the sequence.

There are three notable instances in the past five years alone of such a setback reinvigorating rather than debilitating an English team’s domestic campaign:

Man City (2013/14)
The Citizens’ longest ever run in the Champions League was curtailed in the first knockout round by Barcelona last term, when they were fourth in the Premier League, albeit with some games in hand. However, few were complaining two months and ten league wins in 13 later as they darted past Liverpool to take the title.

Arsenal (2012/13)
The Gunners were in disrepair in March 2013, extracted from the Capital One Cup by Bradford and the FA Cup by Blackburn, losing the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie 3-1 to Bayern Munich and being beaten by Tottenham to drop seven points behind them in the Premier League. A heroic 2-0 near-triumph in the second leg reignited their season, with eight victories and ten draws arriving in their final ten Premier League matches to swipe a Champions League spot off of Spurs.

Chelsea (2009/10)
This is the example that should be most effective at reviving Blues supporters from their gloom. In Carlo Ancelotti’s maiden campaign, they set the pace but were wavering by March, falling behind Man United right before the disaster of Champions League removal by Jose Mourinho’s Inter. A draw at Blackburn days later increased the unease, yet they rallied back with seven wins in eight, collecting the FA Cup too for good measure.