For a few brief minutes Reading were top of the Premier League. 2-1 up at Chelsea, some of dared to think that maybe this league wouldn't be so hard after all... how wrong we were. We all know how that first meeting between the two sides this season ended,fast forward 5 months and much has changed with both teams. To give us the Chelsea perspective we spoke to Graham MacAree from our sister SB Nation site, We Ain't Got No History.
How have you viewed Chelsea's season so far?
Mostly in a state of annoyance. I was never expecting a serious title challenge, but failing to qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds and under-performance in the cups (as well as some weird displays in the league) aren't a recipe to make Chelsea supporters very happy. There have been good moments, certainly, but mostly we're just waiting for the season to end so we can regroup.
It seems like forever since Chelsea beat Reading 4-2 at the Bridge, how did you view that game and what did you make of Reading?
I have to admit, that match worried me. If it weren't for Adam Federici making a meal out of Gary Cahill's shot, we could have been in real trouble, although it seemed more along the lines of shooting ourselves in the foot than a brilliant performance on Reading's part. Given Reading's display in that match, however, I'm pretty surprised that y'all have struggled so much this year.
It's safe to say that Rafa Benitez hasn't been a popular appointment... Is there anything he can do to win over the Chelsea fans and if it's not Rafa, who do you want to see in charge come the summer?
Well, he could try being better at his job. Personal dislike of him aside, he's not really done anything good for the team. He's shored up the defence a little bit, but he's tactically dogmatic and seemingly unable to adjust to different situations, like teams sitting back against him or opposing managers making key mid-game substitutions. Assuming Benitez leaves, making a play for Jurgen Klopp seems worthwhile (although I'd doubt he'd be that keen on leaving Borussia Dortmund), and there's always a certain Special One if he does indeed leave Real Madrid.
Do you expect any major transfer moves before deadline day?
Expect? No. Hope for? Yes. Chelsea really need some help in midfield -- they have issues controlling the game for long runs (as you saw at Stamford Bridge), and nothing has been done to address the concern. Frank Lampard can't play every single match, Oriol Romeu's injured, John Obi Mikel's away at the Africa Cup of Nations and David Luiz is a centre back. So yeah, some help would be nice.
Former Reading loanee Ryan Bertrand has been in and out of the side this season, with Cole signing a new deal, do you think there's a chance he'll move on?
I can see Bertrand settling in as a home-grown utility player. He's not shown he's good enough to take over as Chelsea's starting left back, but he's definitely capapble of getting a decent amount of time with the team. I don't see a reason the club would get rid of him, and he hasn't made any noises about being unhappy with his current situation.
If you'll hold the laughter, is there anyone in the Reading side you're worried about on Wednesday?
Adam le Fondre has made a habit of scoring important goals lately, it seems. Chelsea, coincidentally, have made a habit of conceding important goals. This is a recipe for me throwing things on Wednesday.
Who should Reading fans be wary of based on current form?
Demba Ba and Juan Mata. Ba's been in good form basically ever since he arrived in the Premier League, and has kept that up at Chelsea, while Mata's been the obvious creative force at Stamford Bridge all season. All, ballboys should watch out for Eden Hazard because he is evil and plotting to murder them all.
3-1 Chelsea because I might as well fantasise about such a scoreline now before everything goes wrong. Say goodbye to that winning streak, possibly.
And finally, where do you think both sides will end up come the end of the season?
Sorry to say that I think Reading will be relegated (although I'm hoping you don't). 18th place sounds about right. Chelsea will almost certainly finish third, which I can't be too disappointed by.