The Dramatic Demise of Chelsea’s SeasonPosted: March 2, 2011
Ten games into the English Premier League, Chelsea had every punter and ‘expert’ in the land saying it was certainly going to be a two in a row for the London Blues. However a trip to Anfield in early November against a Liverpool team in a poor run of form left Chelsea and indeed the whole league stunned after a 2-0 win for the Liverpudlians and this started their dramatic demise. There were a few key factors that contributed to the total U-turn of Chelsea’s season that we’ll try look at here.
The Stamford Bridge club blitzed their way into the start of the season, with 12 goals in their first two league matches and twenty-one in their first five. The champions played beautiful football with a sublime killer edge, and after a only a few games they were everybody’s favorites to win the league again. The Blues stayed at the summit of the table for the whole first 14 gameweeks of the season and it didn’t look like any of Manchester United, Arsenal or Manchester City had enough to stop them.
When they went to visit Anfield on November 7th they were also the bookies’ choice to take three points that day. However they didn’t count on now Blues player Fernando Torres putting two past them without reply to give what was in truth a surprising home win. Chelsea never really offered much going forward that day and didn’t deserve even a point from the game.This loss triggered an unbelievable run of horrible form for the Blues as they only managed two wins in their next ten games, including an abysmal 3-0 home loss to Sunderland and a 3-1 defeat to the hands of title rivals Arsenal.
Looking at Chelsea’s bench for most of these games, there wasn’t an immense amount of quality there. Their first eleven was and is still a very talented group, but if things aren’t working out for them at times they don’t have many options to call upon. When this bad run of form began, the perfect way to nick it in the bud would be to freshen the line up up a little, add a new face or two to change things around. Instead, Chelsea found themselves looking at the same faces every week not really knowing what to do anymore, not being able to comprehend why they were no longer winning – and most importantly they had nothing really new in their lockers to do about it.
Gael Kakuta, the young winger, has been sent to Fulham on loan. They have purchased Fernando Torres this past January in hope of reviving their season. However this was simply the wrong move for them to make as the Spaniard has been off form himself all season, never really reaching his stride since before the World Cup last year.
Couple this with the injuries and off-form of Frank Lampard this whole season and Chelsea found themselves in serious trouble. Lampard played a vital role for his team when they won the league last year, however the spark he had then seems to just be missing this season. The midfielder has only netted four times this Premier League campaign but three of these have been from the penalty spot, and the other goal came in the opening match at home to newly promoted West Bromich Albion. Last season Lampard was in scintillating form and notched a remarkable 27 goals. This year he seems to be a shadow of his former self.
Very shortly after the Liverpool loss, Ray Wilkins lost his assistant first team coach job after the club decided against renewing his contract. This has already proved a huge mistake for Chelsea as it clearly added to their poor run. Wilkins, twice a former caretaker manager at the club, took up his post as first team assistant coach for the 09/10 season, the very year the club ended Manchester United’s title winning streak to claim their fourth championship. As well as this The Pensioners also won the FA Cup. Manager Carlo Ancelotti has even stated that “without him, we couldn’t have won a thing.”
Certainly a massive loss for the team, Wilkins worked closely with the players and had a good relationship with the squad. His absence from the training ground and in the dressing room on match days has obviously affected the playing squad greatly during the coarse of this season.
With Chelsea going off the rails it has dragged them from a stroll to the title down to scrapping for fourth place. Tottenham, and perhaps Liverpool, will be giving Chelsea a run for their money for the final champions league spot. However, they may have shown that they’re on the way back up with a 2-1 win over top of the league Manchester United. Maybe they’ve gotten back on their game, or maybe their luck has changed. Either way, it’ll be very interesting to see how Chelsea follow up on this great win for themselves. It’ll be very interesting to see if they can manage to retain their Champions League spot against a Tottenham team in a great position to make it to the quarter finals of Europe’s top competition.