What is ailing Chelsea?

Defending Premier League champions Chelsea have made a stuttering start to their season and most pundits are scratching their heads over what is going wrong at the Stamford Bridge club.

In the Premier League, the Blues currently find themselves in 15th place in the table with just 11 points from 10 matches. 

They have tasted the sweet success of victory only three times so far – at West Brom and home ties against Arsenal and bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa.

Additionally, points were dropped in draws against Swansea and Newcastle, the result at St James' Park prompting manager Jose Mourinho to say he would give his players "minus one out of 10" for their performance.

During their poor run in September, captain John Terry was dropped from the starting XI for the first time with Mourinho at the helm, but the poor results continued and the former England skipper was reinstated once more.

Still, their domestic results continued to flatter to deceive – with losses at home to Southampton and at Upton Park either side of the victory against Aston Villa leaving the Chelsea fans scratching their heads.

In their fledgling European campaign, results have been inconsistent as well; a 4-0 demolition of Maccabi Tel Aviv was spectacularly undone with a 2-1 away loss to Porto, while last week's 0-0 draw at Dynamo Kiev saw the Blues drop to third place in Group G at the halfway point of the group stage.

Where is it all going wrong for Mourinho so far this year? We take a look at a couple of possible reasons…

Previously reliable players not performing

The Chelsea squad remains one of the strongest around, with a plethora of stars available for selection in most positions, whilst boasting fantastic bench strength.

So far this season, though, some of Chelsea's most reliable players from the recent and not-so-recent past have underperformed significantly.

Captain Terry's struggles have filled much column space over the last couple of weeks, but behind him second-choice stopper Asmir Begovic has looked uncertain in front of goal at various times this season, which has clearly had an effect on the usually well-drilled Chelsea defence.

A lot of their success last season was due to the excellence of Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park – the former shielding the defense with aplomb while the latter knitted together the midfield and attack. So far both these players have looked decidedly sub-par.

In the front line, Diego Costa and Player of the Year Eden Hazard banged in the goals whilst terrorizing defenses last season, but they too have looked somewhat lost more often than not over the last couple of months.

Perhaps the squad needs freshening up

The defending Premier League champions had a relatively quiet time in the off-season, swapping some reserve players for new bench-warmers without actually adding to the first team. The likes of Asmir Begovic, Pedro and Baba Rahman are all useful to have around, but haven't really added more to the squad than their predecessors Petr Cech, Juan Cuadrado and Felipe Luis. In fact, one could certainly argue that they are downgrades from the players they have replaced.

In a world where all your rivals are moving forward, standing still amounts to moving backwards, relatively speaking. When Manchester City can spend in the region of £100million on Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne – two players who wouldn't necessarily make the City starting XI when their squad has a clean bill of health – an out-of-form Radamel Falcao on loan isn't going to cut it as your lone attacking acquisition in the transfer window. Perhaps Mourinho wanted to strenghten the side but he wasn't allowed the funds to sign the players he wanted?

In a nutshell, Chelsea need reinforcements to the first team in order to reinvigorate the squad.

Has Jose lost it?

At the start of his second tenure in charge at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho described himself as the 'happy one' as opposed to the 'special one' a decade earlier. This season there has been no sign of the jovial Portuguese that was on show at times last season.

His falling out with former club doctor Eva Carneiro, criticism of referees after every disappointing result and the public lambasting of his players suggest Mourinho is not his old self.  

In addition, Mourinho has never lasted more than three completed seasons at any of his previous clubs, so has he simply had enough of life at Chelsea? Or has Roman Abramovic had enough of him?

Whatever the case may be, drastic changes are needed at the west London club sooner rather than later…

Comments