Just a month ago, Chelsea was talked about by many Premier League fans as a serious title contender, one that had the firepower to possibly overtake a battered Liverpool side.
In November, they went on a dominating 17-match unbeaten run across all competitions, propelling the Blues to the top of the table. And then, things took a turn for the worse.
Back-to-back losses to Everton and Wolves followed by a horrendous 4-1 loss against Arsenal completely halted Chelsea’s positive momentum.
After two more poor results from the last week, Chelsea now sits in ninth place, with no respite in sight. The club spent over £200 million in transfers last summer, yet, can’t even crack the top 4 at the moment.
Let’s take a look at what’s gone wrong at Chelsea.
No Team Identity
Football, just like any other team sport, requires cohesion among the squad. Yes, you can bring all of the best players in the world onto one team, but the likelihood is that they won’t be able to win a whole lot because of conflicting egos, playing styles, and much more. Chelsea apparently didn’t get this memo or at least disregarded it while they were spending all that money over the summer. The Premier League is a massive step up from the Bundesliga. Expecting Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to be the same players they were in Germany the second they stepped onto an EPL pitch was a massive mistake.
Not only that, but there is a language barrier between the German players and their English counterparts, making the introduction to Chelsea even more difficult. Creating a cohesive title contending side takes a long time, just look at how long Liverpool waited to reach the mountaintop.
It’s become apparent that even though this Chelsea squad is bursting with talent, they simply haven’t come together as a team just yet.
Another issue facing Chelsea is their rigid playing style. Frank Lampard has done a pretty good job so far during his time as manager at Chelsea. He led a team of youngsters to the top 4 of the league and a FA Cup, all while playing through a transfer ban.
That being said, his tactics are still very basic.
Lampard’s game plan usually involves getting the ball out to the wings, allowing his talented wingbacks Reece James and Ben Chilwell to move to play up the pitch. An in-swinging ball into the box usually follows, rarely connecting with a Chelsea player for a header on goal. That is Lampard’s one tactic. It sometimes works, like when they beat Sevilla 4-0, but often Chelsea ends up with a very flat and predictable attack that doesn’t produce goals. Chelsea has failed to score more than 1 goal in each of their last three matches, two of those games being blowouts.
Lampard seems to only have a plan A at the moment. When Chelsea’s attack breaks down, he has nowhere to turn. Lampard’s tactical rigidity is part of the reason why the Blues have struggled in the past month. I’m not calling for his job or anything, but the “Lampard out” supporters are growing. He’s got to find a way for this Chelsea squad to score more goals.
Poor Individual Play
Some of the blame for Chelsea’s struggles falls on the players. On several occasions this season, it seems like the Chelsea squad has a complete disconnect with what Lampard is asking of them. Against Arsenal they looked out of the game for the full 90-minute, not taking advantage of several scoring chances, instead of gifting Arsenal penalties and dangerous free-kicks.
Over the weekend, Man City came to Stamford Bridge and completely rolled over the Blues in a 3-1 victory. Mistakes cost Chelsea once again. Poor individual performances have cost the team. Werner hasn’t scored a goal in 11 matches. N’golo Kante hasn’t been his normal self, losing possession at a much higher rate than usual.
Even Edouard Mendy is struggling to get back to his early-season brilliance. We’ve seen how good this Chelsea squad can be and I think (and hope) this is just a spell of poor form for these players.
This Premier League season demands consistency and so far, Chelsea has been anything but consistent. They don’t look like a complete team out on the pitch. The manager won’t move away from his predictable gameplans while the players struggle to perform at a high level on a regular basis.
At some point, they will turn their season around but changes have to happen soon, or else there will be serious consequences for Chelsea.
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