The Blues will play at the Club World Cup in the UAE in February, but that could have a serious knock-on effect on the Premier League title race after Man City and Liverpool closed the gap
Chelsea are set to go a month without playing a Premier League fixture after the dates for the Club World Cup were confirmed.
The Blues are currently top of the table, but missed the chance to extend their lead when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United on Sunday.
It has now been confirmed that Chelsea will take part in the Club World Cup in the UAE between February 3-12, with the draw for their semi-final taking place on Monday.
European champions Chelsea will enter in that last four stage, along with Brazilian side Palmeiras after they won the 2021 Copa Libertadores.
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The pair will be expected to meet in the final, but before that they must negotiate a semi-final against the likes of Saudi side Al Hilal, Egypt’s Al Ahly or Mexican outfit Monterrey.
It will be the second time in succession that the tournament has been delayed until February due to the ongoing affect of the coronavirus pandemic on the football calendar, with Bayern Munich winning it in February this year.
The tournament was last held in its usual pre-Christmas slot in 2019, when Liverpool beat Flamengo in the final in Qatar.
Back then the Reds were only forced to move one Premier League match, with a trip to West Ham pushed back to late January, while they also fielded a youth side in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, losing 5-0 to Aston Villa.
That means that there will be large gap between the home match against Tottenham on January 23 and the trip to Crystal Palace on February 19, with the fixtures having to be rearranged for later in the season.
Manchester City and Liverpool will perhaps see this as a chance to put the pressure on Thomas Tuchel’s side, with City playing Brentford and Norwich while Chelsea are away, and Liverpool taking on Leicester and Burnley.
Tuchel admitted that he was disappointed to only draw at home to Manchester United, with the Blues dropping points in their second successive home game.
“It’s happened twice that we play good games against Burnley and Manchester United and we feel disappointed,” he said.
“Over a long season you drop points, you dig in and you try to steal them back when someone steals points from you.
“This is what we will try to do. Don’t count the points when you are one up or four up.
“We are in the middle and that is what we need.”