For the second successive season, Chelsea are all over the place. Fans must feel a bit awkward. And who could blame them? In the last 20 years, the Blues have been one of the top teams in the United Kingdom and Europe having won all kinds of silverware. Premier League trophies, Champions League trophies, Europa League trophies, League Cup trophies, FA Cup trophies… You name it! They have them all in their trophy cabinet.
And then all of a sudden, the team starts finishing in the bottom half. The experience is akin to what the nouveau riche must feel after losing their new money. The London club finished 12th last season (for the first time since 1995-96), and the way they have gone about their job in the ongoing season (10th at present on the points table), it appears something pretty similar is awaiting them.
On Christmas Eve, yet another disappointment came their way as they lost 2-1 to Wolves in a rather timid manner. This month, they have lost three out of their five Premier League encounters so far, and Sunday’s defeat was their fourth successive defeat away from home, something they have not suffered since December 2000.
Those days, they were not as big as they are today so reconciling to that would not have been that difficult for their fans. Besides, for the first time since 1975, they lost to Wolves for a second successive time in a top-flight encounter. The Wanderers had also beaten them 1-0 in April.
This season Chelsea have been found wanting in both attack and defence but if one has to single out one of the two, it has to be their attack. They have squandered a whole lot of chances in front of goal. As many as 36 big chances have gone abegging so far. Sunday’s loss was their eighth of the season and 19th of the year. Believe it or not, no other Premier League team has lost so many matches this year. Manager Mauricio Pochettino understands that the lack of
goals in the final third has hurt them a lot but as of now, he has not been able to find any solutions.
In Chelsea’s defence, there are many new, young and experienced players in the team and a bunch like that needs some time – sometimes even up to a couple of seasons – before they start delivering like champions. In the last couple of years, there has been a kind of complete overhaul at Stamford Bridge, and owing to that the club is where it is today. The new owners are largely responsible. As long as Roman Abramovic was in charge, the club went from strength to strength.
Despite their poor results for some time now, it’s unlikely though that they will have a new policy in place. The good news for Pochettino is he himself is new to the club, it being his first season with the Blues. Players as well as the manager are likely to be given a long rope, and unless the club miraculously starts winning one match after another in the coming months which they are capable of, fans have to reconcile with these frequent unsatisfactory showings.
What the club is going through at present is not a real crisis though. The real crisis will unfold when this bunch doesn’t deliver after all and Chelsea are forced to adopt another strategy, which will confirm a big failure. They are not there as yet though. They are in the semi-finals of the League Cup and if they can go on to lift the trophy, it can buoy the bunch and help motivate them for bigger trophies.
For a club that featured in the Champions League regularly — Europe’s premier club competition – not having a place in the Europa League (second tier) and Europa Conference League (third tier) this season and having no to little prospects for the next season, these are indeed nightmarish times.
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