Chelsea’s recent trials and tribulations
The highs of last year…
…to the lows of this year
What’s gone wrong?
Although José will be quick to point to his team’s dominance in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup fourth round match against Stoke (Chelsea’s 59% possession and 24 shots on goal compared to the hosts’ 41% and 11 respectively), things are not looking good for Chelsea. Chelsea have endured an atrocious start to the season with just 11 points from their first ten games, and as no team with fewer than 13 points at this stage of the season has made fourth place, it’s looking like the ending won’t be much cheerier. What makes it worse for the Blues is that it’s not as simple as just pointing the finger at one individual when it comes to Chelsea’s surprisingly bad performances recently, as almost everyone is underperforming (that includes you José).
Could it be that John Terry and Gary Cahill are 43rd and 44th respectively in the rankings for shots blocked per 90 minutes for defenders this season in the Premier League? Or perhaps the ever changing central defence with the previous pair and Kurt Zouma all starting 7 games apiece. Whatever the reasons, Chelsea’s defence this year has been awful, with this being the first time the reigning champions have had a negative goal difference at this stage of the season since Blackburn Rover’s shoddy honeymoon season in 1995/1996.
It’s not lack of possession that is causing Chelsea’s attacking woes, as they have the 3rd highest average possession in the league, it’s the lack of creative spark to do anything with it. The London giants’ two main attacking threats, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have been a lot less willing to pull the trigger this season, with 1.9 and 1.3 shots per 90 mins respectively so far this season compared to 3.3 and 2.1 last season.
Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea’s metronomic assist-machine last year has been another one struggling this year, with just one assist to his name in 10 games this year compared to the 6 he was getting on average every 10 games last season. Interestingly, when playing away this year, 40% of his key passes came in the form of long balls, when last year it was 22%, meaning that perhaps Chelsea and Cesc are running out of ideas now that the other sides in the league seem to have improved with the shutting out of options in midfield. Fabregas is being dispossessed 20% less this season every 90 minutes, yet is doing a lot less with the extra time on the ball he is having, pretty much summing up Chelsea’s aimless approach to attacking this year.
I’m not a psychologist so I’ll leave that analysis to someone else.