Sunday, 30 August 2015

Why are Chelsea sucking so bad?

I love bragging to my roommate about how the Premier League provides the most compelling drama every season. I guess I'll shut up about that for now.

Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois frustrated by Crystal Palace result
"I'm gonna pretend this is Ivanovic's head here"

On Saturday, Crystal Palace became only the second team to beat Mourinho's Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.

The ensuing bedlam of unsolicited advice from the fans was predictable - Drop Fabregas. Sign Pogba. We should've kept Schurrle. Azpi at right back, Baba left. Remy needs more game time. We need to switch to a 4-3-3. Can't blame them either - This is our worst start to a season since 1995.

It's safe to say we're in a bit of a mini-crisis.

The Palace match was painful to watch. Each time the Eagles came forward, they would nonchalantly lay the ball off to Chelsea's right, knowing something would happen - An utterly predictable attack pattern that Jose strangely doesn't seem to want to fix. Ivanovic's reflex action towards any hint of a cross doesn't help.

Ivanovic's defensive stance (With all respect to the men in the photo)
Spot the Chelsea right back (Photo: The Telegraph)

Through the course of last season, Mourinho identified a first XI that was more or less insulated from any danger of rotation. They delivered almost all the time, and we won the league and the league cup. Clearly, that isn't working anymore, for a few reasons.

One, teams across the league are much stronger than they were last term. You got the sense that something wasn't quite right after the game at White Hart Lane last season, after which Chelsea fell out meekly from the Champions League and resorted to grinding out results throughout the run-in. Now those wins are turning into draws, and the draws into losses, not least because every opponent has strengthened while Chelsea have not.

Second, the leaders in the team are having a stinker. In previous years, when the team hit a rut, one could rely on Didier Drogba or Frank Lampard to take on the situation and turn it around. This time, the underperforming players are Fabregas, Hazard, Ivanovic, Matic, Terry - the precise people the squad relies on for direction and leadership. The odd off-day for a player would usually be papered over by a match-winning performance from someone else, but that just isn't happening so far.

Chelsea's leaders of yesteryear
"It's been a long day, without you my friend..." (Photo:

All's not lost, however. When it seems at the start of a season like an entire champion squad has been replaced with a bunch of inferior clones, it's both good and bad. Bad, because results are going to suck for a while. Good, because there's enough time to rescue the originals from their dungeons and have them terrorise teams again. In a sense, the international break could not be more welcome. Sure, we still need to strengthen the squad to match up to the pace of growth elsewhere, but nothing too radical. Two more days to go, chop chop.

Also, all managers are figured out by their rivals at one point. What separates the great ones is their ability to evolve and adapt, ensuring it's only a matter of time before they are on top again. Mourinho has a bit of a reputation for his 'third season', which he must now change. This is his latest test - to evolve along with the team, and embark on the next phase of success.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliantly written my friend! Keep up such good analyses coming!


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