Why Do Chelsea Lose Against Bottom Clubs? – A Fan’s Perspective

Jose Mourinho

Another loss to bottom half opponents, this time relegation threatened Sunderland means that Chelsea’s hopes of the title have again gone for a toss. It was a decent performance from the Blues but the Black Cats keeper Vito Mannone was at his best to deny Chelsea several times. Despite that, when we consider a Champions League and Premier League contending team, we all expect to score more than 1 goal even against the best keeper in the world.

Many fans come up and say, “Ramires is a disgrace”; “Oscar isn’t a Brazilian Mata. He can’t create.”; “Why do we still have Fernando Torres?” or some unfathomable fans who say “Mourinho should go, he’s bad and his tactics are out-dated.” Well, Chelsea haven’t been contending for the title since the past 2 seasons and this season he made us title challengers as well as UCL semi-finalists. That’s a good change and here are two main issues these days which most fans have, especially after Chelsea’s losses.

The Oscar issue:

Oscar Chelsea

Oscar always creates chances for Fred, Hulk and Neymar. But he doesn’t do it that well with Eto’o, Willian and Hazard. These players are direct comparisons. It’s not Oscar’s fault entirely here. If you say Oscar can’t play like Mata, you’re wrong. Oscar plays better than Mata in Brazil, where there are many players who are more experienced than him, playing in his position, whom he has displaced. He makes players like 31 year old Kaka and 34 year old Ronaldinho look like players meant to retire. Hernanes and Diego Ribas haven’t even challenged Oscar in that role. If they play, they play behind him.

The Jose Mourinho and his “out-dated” tactics issue:

You cannot say Jose is to be blamed completely as well. He likes direct football, which has lesser passing and subsequently lesser control on the game. But most of the passing is made to be killer passes. Killer passes are actually tough to execute. Mata used to play around with Hazard and Oscar exchanging the ball for quite some time and then delivering a killer pass to release any player. But that itself is not the perfect style of play. Chelsea take control but still get hit on counters and the team tires as well. It looks good while it happens, but big clubs with comparable work rate roll over us.

Direct game play needs a confident and sure-shot scorer up front, who can play the lone striker comfortably (considering our formation), someone who isn’t simply a first half goal-poacher like Eto’o or a strike-partnership forward like Torres or a strike-partnership target man like Ba. Chelsea’s strength is midfield, and Mourinho wants his midfielders to have the ball for the most part of the game. Most definitely our midfielders are much better technicians than our forwards so they like to run along with the ball in order to affect the game individually. That is acceptable but it makes the build-up slower. The midfield doesn’t have the confidence on the striker and thus hesitate to pass to him in tight situations. If tight situations have to be avoided, Chelsea have to play fast or maybe “desperate” football with cutting passes and tempting the opponents to come forward.

However, it is a Dangerous ploy- remember, we still don’t have that striker who can potentially finish off every single chance we create for him. Maybe Fernando Torres or Samuel Eto’o still have it in them to finish off chances, but they are surely not regular hat-trick scorers considering the fact that both seem to be exhausted after 50 minutes of play. Demba Ba is definitely not clinical. Apart from clinical finishing, Demba Ba has everything needed.

So what Mourinho does is play a slow game in order to ensure that we don’t concede many goals. We can’t play like Liverpool who win games 5-3 and 4-2. Our strikers will score 2, but our defence in the process will concede 3. Remember that Liverpool defence on paper and under any other manager would have been much better than this season. But in the same way, the defenders don’t really matter to the Reds because they finish off most opponents by the hour mark after which the Reds lose energy and bring on Lucas Leiva or Joe Allen.

Getting back to killer passes, currently the only player to have consistently delivered killer passes in a very slow build up like ours is our latest signing Nemanja Matic. It’s very obvious what he does. He attempts long passes or medium ones that are meant to dissect the opposition defence- something which players like Gerrard, Lampard(in his prime) and Cesc Fabregas do. When players with lesser passing technique or vision try such passes, there are quite a few passes which go astray which result in comparatively lower pass completion and frustration among fans as they say “he’s giving the ball away!” Matic loses possession the least in the team compared to others when he attempts his passes, barring Hazard of course, who has been the talisman and the perfect Mourinho-type player.

Players like Oscar and Ramires attempt killer passes but fail many times, but these players work hard to win the ball. Remember even Juan Mata tried killer passes and failed and had no work rate to fall back lost possession. Someone like Willian doesn’t attempt killer passes as many as Ramires or Oscar, but is more used as a counter attacker, breaking out with pace and is expected to give the final killer pass, which surprisingly, he rarely provided this whole season.

The Final Verdict, a fan’s view:

Our next season will be better. Our players have shown their ability to pass around the ball, under Benitez. Under Mourinho’s first season in his second reign, they have shown work rate. Next season with a guaranteed goal scorer, who has more than 1 or 2 goals per game, the direct game-play is bound to get faster and more accomplished.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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