After Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Southampton at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea sit in 16th place with only eight points till now. The team, who lost only three league games last term, have already matched that tally on matchday five when they surrendered meekly to Everton. Chelsea barely strengthened their title-winning team over the summer, only bringing in like-for-like replacements for the departed players, and adding a few more so that the squad looks more deeper. One of the biggest disappointments of the summer was the failed pursuit of Everton defender John Stones, a transfer saga that was well documented.
So what’s exactly gone wrong?
Trying to figure out what is right with the Blues is a tougher task right now than figuring out what is wrong these days, the team is in turmoil with manager Jose Mourinho even hearing boos at the Stamford bridge. First of all, Chelsea defense has been dreadful this season. Branislav Ivanovic has been by far the worst Chelsea player this season, he has been torn apart by the likes of Raheem Sterling, Montero, Mane and many more. The truth is Chelsea have been shocking all across the board, The centre-half pairings aren’t working, as Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma turned out to be as ineffective as John Terry with Cahill. Azpilicueta is the only player who has stood out amongst the Chelsea backline this season, but even he is being played out of position.
In the 8 matches this season, Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet and that was against Arsenal, where the Gunners controversially ended the match with only 9 men. Maybe it’s time to rest Ivanovic, the Serbian can play as a center back, but the 31-year-old simply does not have the pace to match the Premier League’s top wingers and is not getting any faster.
Chelsea’s midfield hasn’t been any better, Nemanja Matic, who started 35 of 38 Premier League matches a season ago, came on at halftime against Southampton and was promptly substituted less than a half hour later. Matic has struggled to control opposition from mounting attack after attack towards the Chelsea goal.
Cesc Fabregas has had nightmare season till now, the Spaniard made a blistering start to his Chelsea career last season but the story is completely different this time around, Fabregas hasn’t scored yet and has created just one goal for his team-mates, an alarming slump in creativity. He needs to be benched. He’s clearly a quality player, but he’s been anything but reliable, consistent or helpful to Chelsea’s cause.
The other problem is Chelsea’s formation relies too heavily on the individual form of players like Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, and when those two aren’t clicking, Chelsea’s goal-scoring threat is all but nullified. The PFA Player of the Year a season ago, Hazard has appeared in 12 matches for Chelsea across all competitions this season and has scored only one goal that came against Arsenal. Costa was a sensation 12 months ago, scoring nine goals in his opening eight league appearances.
Those goals have dried up this time around, with the Spain international scoring just one so far in this campaign, the focus shifting instead to his lack of discipline. The Blues don’t look like champions. They look like the 16th best side in the Premier League, and they need massive changes and a lasting spark of inspiration.