As Christmas slides into view, the 2015/16 season feels like it could be a write-off already for Premier League champions Chelsea, with their title and Capital One Cup defences in ruins and with work to do just to qualify for the Champions League knockout stage.
However, there is still another piece of silverware up for grabs that Chelsea have held a special affinity for in the recent past, and which could yet provide their tormented manager Jose Mourinho with some semblance of salvation come May.
While winning a first Champions League trophy as Blues boss seems more fanciful than ever before under Mourinho – odds of 25/1 with Ladbrokes tend to agree – the FA Cup will take on fresh significance when the big boys enter the fray in round three.
The famous cup has been adorned in Arsenal ribbons for the past two seasons, though before those victories, their London rivals in royal blue had scooped four of the past seven wins in the competition.
Stamford Bridge has offered the FA’s flagship trophy a second home since the final was first restored to its spiritual Wembley home in 2006/07, after a six-season vacation over the border in Wales while the national stadium was rebuilt.
The man who kick-started that Chelsea love affair with the FA Cup was none other than Mourinho, albeit the Portuguese coach was a little less grey on top back then.
That remains the sole FA Cup win of his two spells in west London to date, but it seems now, more than ever, it could be time for manager and club to renew their vows.
Chelsea are 7/1 third favourites to claim the only domestic cup now available to them this season, behind the two most likely teams to rob them of their league title, Manchester City at 5s and hat-trick seekers Arsenal, at 6/1.
Scoffing at the only piece of major silverware his managerial nemesis Arsene Wenger has delivered the Gunners since 2003/04, albeit on three separate occasions, somehow doesn’t seem as appropriate for Mourinho in this most peculiar of Chelsea campaigns.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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