Didier Drogba admits Chelsea's next three Premier League fixtures will be pivotal in their title tilt.
The Blues, who have come unstuck over recent weeks, are due to face Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal before the turn of the year.
How successfully they are able to negotiate that tricky run of games is likely to go a long way towards determining whether or not they will be defending their top flight crown this term.
Strike ace Drogba admits as much, with a four-match winless run in the league having seen Carlo Ancelotti's side allow a five-point lead at the summit to dwindle down to a two-point deficit.
He told the Evening Standard: "Obviously these three games are not coming at the right time for us but they will change the situation we're in now if we win them. It's not finished yet.
"It's a difficult moment for us but this is the kind of thing that can happen to many teams. It's rare for Chelsea to have a period like this and I hope it's going to get better.
"It's not getting any easier because we have Tottenham next but not a lot of people expected us to lose to Marseille (on Wednesday) or expected Chelsea to have a difficult moment."
Chelsea go to White Hart Lane on Sunday knowing they have not won at the home of their capital rivals since 2005.
Drogba is expecting another tough test in North London this weekend, with the Ivorian of the opinion that Spurs could challenge for top honours this season.
He added: "Maybe everyone will expect us to lose on Sunday but it could be different. I see Tottenham as genuine title rivals. They're having a good season and there is no reason why they can't challenge.
"Chelsea used to beat them regularly but things change, that's life. It is up to us to make it happen again."