What’s Wrong with Chelsea?!

During the first two weeks of the Premier League season, viewers were treated to some impressive performances. Two specific victories came courtesy of Ancelotti’s champions in Blue. Chelsea kicked off the new campaign with ferocity and left opponents in piles of rubble along the way. With a pair of 6-nil victories, the Pensioners were already crowned 2010-2011 champions by many. Didier Drogba’s comments after the Wigan thrashing simply seemed modest… “It would be great if we could win the league with a lot of points, but this league is not going to be easy” said Drogba. But which team could possibly match their tenacity? Who would stop them from scoring?

Perhaps Drogba was onto something, and an automatic Chelsea repeat was a bit premature. But the Londoners continued on, winning 3 more league matches and conceding just one goal. At that point Arsenal had already lost to recently promoted West Brom, and Man United couldn’t seem to hold onto a second half lead.

Shocking Turning point…

Tevez personally handed Chelsea their first loss of the season

But then, in one of the more attention-getting results in recent memory, the Champs fell. Chelsea lost 0-1 to Man City, as their unlimited supply of cash sprung them into the title discussion. At first, the game looked to be a blip on the radar, as Chelsea went on to beat Arsenal the very next week. They also went on to win 2 and draw 1 of their next three matches. Goals were less frequent though, as it took the pace-setters 84 minutes to finish off a scrappy Blackburn club, and they couldn’t manage to find the back of the net at all at Villa Park.

Chelsea started the month of November off with a nice cushion atop the table, but then proceeded to lose to Liverpool, and squeak out a 1-0 victory vs Fulham. This past weekend’s 3-nil shocker at the hands of Sunderland appears to be the wake-up call. The team that looked invincible just weeks ago, has now lost thrice in 8 matches. Since the loss to City, Chelsea have managed just 7 goals (after scoring 21 in their first 5 fixtures).

Who’s to Blame?

Ancelotti may need to take up smoking again

Is it Ancelotti’s fault? He seemed to have English down pat, and the English game in his pocket. After Chelsea’s roaring start, the Italian manager didn’t change much. The attack stayed the same, but the goals just haven’t come…

It couldn’t be Drogba’s fault, could it? after all he was the one who said it was not going to be easy to repeat as champs. But the Ivorian has netted just once since the City game, and a recent story of the striker contracting Malaria is another wrench thrown into the ring.

Could it be injuries? Some we know about, like Lampard’s groin, Alex’s knee, and Terry’s leg. But who else may be suffering without letting on. Could Drogba’s malaria be hampering him more than we thought? Perhaps the loss of former players like Joe Cole and Michael Ballack is more of an impact than first thought.

Final Verdict…

I’ll point the finger towards City. I’m not sure if they exposed Chelsea’s weaknesses, but it seems like they haven’t been the same since that afternoon in September. Arsenal fought hard at Stamford bridge and probably deserved better than a 2 goal defeat; other teams which Chelsea managed wins against (like Fulham and Rovers) have also looked better, and seemed to give Chelsea more problems than earlier in the year. A healthy Chelsea team is still probably the best in England, but the fact that rivals Arsenal and United are both within 3 points does not bode well for a team playing poorly. P.S. They may be without their skipper (and most reliable defender) for several months.

Chelsea still finds ways to win, and credit Ancelotti for starting to infuse younger players into the line-up. They’re still the pace-setters, but this may not be the wire-to-wire campaign we all started to imagine in August.

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3 Responses to What’s Wrong with Chelsea?!

  1. Hey up. Top post, thanks!

    Apologies for this shameless bit of self-promotion (see link at bottom), but I’ve recently posted on how key Frank Lampard appears to be to Chelsea’s struggles of late. It’s been a downward spiral for Chelsea since his injury, several pundits commentated on how the Man City game (as you correctly pointed out) was the first to expose Chelsea’s flaws, and in central midfield they were certainly found wanting.

    What I hadn’t thought of, which you interestingly raise, is how the City defeat might have affected them on a psychological level, for it certainly blew away their league-based aura of invincibility. It gave others hope and belief that they could actually beat Chelsea (who had previously seemed unbeatable and shoe-ins for the title), and also dented the Chelsea players’ belief that they could win against anyone even when not playing well.

    The Sunderland match was a case of ‘too many absences, too many players out of form’ etc that really rammed home just how much they appear to be missing Lampard (amongst others obviously). I hope you don’t mind me placing the link to my article here, but seeing as you’ve written on a similar subject you might well be interested in it!
    http://sportingblogs.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/%E2%80%9Cfrankly-my-dear-we-do-give-a-damn%E2%80%9D-why-lampard%E2%80%99s-return-can%E2%80%99t-come-soon-enough-for-the-blues%E2%80%A6/

    As I said, great post. Thanks for sharing…

    • whitsport says:

      Wow, thanks for crunching those numbers. Lampard’s impact is even more influential than I had thought. He’s clearly the glue that holds that midfield together (see Arsenal’s Fabregas, United’s Scholes, and Barca’s Xavi). Central midfielders on the ball have become so crucial in the European game. Just look how hard Mikel has worked over the last month; he has completed almost 100 more passes than anyone else in the PL this season. No apologies necessary for self-promotion. Thanks for sharing! Cheers

  2. No worries. Mikel has surprised me too – his passing is completed with a high degree of accuracy too if I remember. With Essien, Lampard and Mikel it’s a decent trio… but not so without.

    I too was rather surprised how important Lamps is to CFC playing well (certainly on the offensive side)… I’d always figured he was a bit of a donkey that bagged a few goals on the back of his team-mates’ hard work…

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