Tottenham left a door open for Chelsea on Easter Monday – and the Blues failed to stride through it.
But was it a bad performance that meant they couldn’t see off Fulham to capitalise on Spurs’ defeat to Norwich, or simply the mark of a tired team?
Since Roberto Di Matteo took over from Andre Villas-Boas at the beginning of March, Chelsea have had two games a week – and if we reach the FA Cup final that run will continue until the end of the season.
To put that into context, if we were to reach the finals of both the Champions League and FA Cup, Chelsea would play twice as many games as Newcastle between now and the end of the season.
So maybe it’s no surprise that with Tottenham faltering, comparatively rested Newcastle suddenly look the form team; the side most likely to capitalise.
The draw with Fulham was the fourth game in a row that Chelsea have led, only to let in a late equaliser.
It’s to their credit that in the previous three – against Aston Villa, Benfica and Wigan – they managed to recover and win. To have to do it for a fourth time in 10 days was a challenge too far.
Truth be told, none of those four performances have been brilliant.
And with the next four games being an FA Cup semi-final against Spurs, a vital league game at Arsenal and the two legs of a Champions League semi against Barcelona, there can be no doubt an improvement is needed. But is the energy there to provide it?
Two weeks ago, dropping two points at home to Spurs, I thought our chance of finishing in the top four had gone.
But Tottenham’s loss of form and failure to take more than a single point from Easter games against Sunderland and Norwich has provided a new chance.
Newcastle may be the team in form but they are not world beaters, so you have to wonder if they can maintain that until the end of the season.
If they can’t – and Chelsea can beat them on 2 May – then maybe the race for fourth is not over after all.
But a lot depends on the energy levels of players who will have played five more games by then – compared with Newcastle’s two.
James Clarke is the author of Moody Blues: Following the second-best team in Europe