December is make or break month for Chelsea: Villas Boas
DECEMBER will be a critical month for Chelsea's season, according to the under pressure manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Champions League status will have been determined, as will their ability to mount any meaningful challenge for the Premier League title.
Fixtures against top four sides Newcastle, at St James' Park on Saturday, Manchester City on December 12 and Tottenham three days before Christmas have the capacity to make or break Chelsea's season.
The club sit fifth in the table, 10 points adrift of leaders City.
It is a pivotal month that could yet define Villas-Boas' Chelsea stewardship and the 34-year-old knows he is entering a decisive phase.
"For our Premier League challenge to be alive we need to make the most of our December fixtures," he said.
If we are able to do that we can get it back on track, not that we can't get back on track after. If we do well in December it will have a major impact.
"We recovered two points on our near opponents when we beat Wolves last weekend, which was good.
"But for us to challenge for the Premier League we need to make the most of our December fixtures because we play most of the top teams.
Villas-Boas also accepts Champions League oblivion beckons if Chelsea are unable to improve on last night's feeble outing in the Carling Cup.
Chelsea's chase for silverware suffered a setback as they exited the cup with a dismal 2-0 defeat by Liverpool, their third loss in four games.
"The FA Cup and Champions League come into play next year, so we don't know what will happen in March and April.
"But it's a fact that if we get points from December, it will put our challenge back on track."
Just as worryingly for Villas-Boas, it was also the third time they had succumbed at Stamford Bridge in four matches.
It does not bode well for next Tuesday's critical Champions League showdown with Valencia, when defeat or the failure to keep a clean sheet in west London will result in the unthinkable.
For a club that covets success in Europe above all else, competing in the Europa League would be a chastening experience.
Such an outcome could spell the end of Villas-Boas' reign at Stamford Bridge and the Portuguese knows a repeat of last night's Carling Cup display is unacceptable.
"The Champions League is a competition that is life and death and this standard won't be enough," he said.
"We will need to up the tempo and play that game with the ultimate desire."
"I'm not a wizard so I can't say for sure what will happen after December.