Opinion: Why This Midfield Dynamo Is At The Center Of Chelsea’s Woes

When an empire witnesses its demise, it’s when nobody realizes that a disaster is about to strike. It’s like a strike of lightning that comes all of a sudden and sweeps away everything in its reach. Every single dynasty or empire that has risen has fallen, and this applies for even the greatest empire in this world. And even Premier League Champions Chelsea, who conquered the nation last season, have sunk to the depths already.

Chelsea’s case, which is quite intriguing for outsiders and rival fans alike, has been down the undermining performances of not just one, but a whole host of players in Mourinho’s squad. They look like a mere shadow of their old self, and their performances have shown so. But one man’s poor form, which has been a focal point of Chelsea’s abrupt downfall is Nemanja Matic’s below par showings.

Matic was being described as the best holding midfielder, not just in Europe, but in the whole world last season. The word ‘battering ram’ was being increasingly used to describe a hard tackling, ball winning midfield dynamo such as him. Being full of small-sized midfielder, who needed someone who have an imposing physique, Matic acted as a cover for them, as always.


But, Matic wasn’t just about physique and dominating the midfield to avoid the heart of Chelsea’s field being overrun, but acted as a lynchpin of the whole side. His threaded passes, and his ability to dictate play from deep was just as enthralling. His accurate passing ability helped Chelsea build play, laying down the foundation of whatever the Blues did throughout last season. He had the ability to make runs through the opposition midfield, catching them off guard and then supplying an incisive forward pass to create the goal. He dribbled the ball from the deeper areas with so much confidence and composure, that made us believe that he owned the park.

Fast forward to the current time, Matic is being made to look like a complete fool. It’s like he doesn’t know what he’s doing in a group who have the same issues. Nemanja Matic’s performances, without a shadow of doubt have hit an all time worst low.

After scoring a 30 yard stunner against Everton, in a game in which he wasn’t quite good, Matic has failed in every game miserably. His performance during Chelsea’s lucky 2-2 draw at St. James’ Park was pathetic and his showing against Porto in the Champions League was just as feeble. But his career hit a new low, when the Serbian was taken off in the 70th minute against Southampton, when he was brought on at half time. Mourinho had opted to start  an attack minded midfielder such as Ramires in the defensive midfield, ahead of the ailing Matic. It give an indication that Jose Mourinho has lost faith in Nemanja Matic’s abilities.

Ever since Tottenham crushed Chelsea during their 5-3 triumph at White Hart Lane last season, it seems as if people have figured out Matic’s weakness, or rather Chelsea’s weakness. Drag him out of position and run at the Chelsea defense, and they’re destined to fail. This season, Matic has been simply woeful, to be honest. His physical presence has gone up in smoke and the swagger he had due to it has dispelled all of a sudden. His passing has hit rock bottom and he seems too uncomfortable on the ball, as he sits between or some yards ahead of the centre-halves. His position is out of sorts

He often acted as a gatekeeper for the Chelsea defense, much like the security guard of a defense agency. John Terry and Gary Cahill had outstanding seasons and were included into the Premier League Team of the Season for their commendable performances too. The defense agency, has now been breached just because the security guard has failed to perform his job. Quite simply, the opposition forwards just walk past the Chelsea defense as if it weren’t there, just because Matic, the security guard has failed miserably in protecting the agency.

Mourinho’s system has been based on a solid defense foundation, where ever he has went spent his career at. Talk of Claude Makelele or Sami Khedira, or his very own Nemanja Matic of the 2014-15 season. The Matic that we’re seeing this season has lost a lot of confidence. He’s a soft-spoken chap, and confidence is a big part for his repertoire to fire. He’s such a lovely player, that when he was taken off against Southampton, it didn’t just embarrass him, but it made me feel bad for him too.

If Matic fires for Chelsea, they will be a force to be reckoned with and Mourinho has to make sure that he gets his confidence back, leading to the re invigoration of swagger and mojo. Offloading him and keeping him away form the action for too long would be like a case of self-destructing yourself.

Written by Kaustubh Pandey

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