Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday summed-up the champions campaign so far.
They were sloppy, open at the back and failed to find a cutting edge in front of goal, as Toffees substitute Steven Naismith claimed a hat-trick for the home side.
To be fair Everton deserve a lot of credit for their performance against the champions. Every player produced a fantastic display and they looked dangerous coming forward.
Naismith may get the headlines for his three goals, but England starlet Ross Barkley deserves credit for his assists. The youngster had a difficult campaign through injuries and lack of form last season.
However this season he has hit the ground running. His intelligence and ability to take on players are key attributes in an Everton team that seems to be adept at hitting teams on the counter-attack.
Everybody connected with Chelsea will have been wishing that England centre-back John Stones was wearing white and not blue yesterday, as the 21-year-old was superb at the heart of the Toffees defence.
In truth it could have been a worse defeat for the champions, as Bosnian ‘keeper Asmir Begovic had to produce good saves from James McCarthy and Arouna Kone in the first half with the Toffees looking very dangerous against the suspect Chelsea defence.
A relatively long-term injury to first choice ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois was a blow to the Blues, but even the highly-rated Belgian international probably could not have done any better with the Toffees goals.
In fact, it could be argued that former-Stoke ‘keeper Begovic was one of the Toffees better performers at Goodison Park on a torrid afternoon for Jose Mourinho side.
Chelsea have now made their worst start to a league campaign since 1988 and the reigning champions also have the worst defensive record in the top-flight, having conceded 12 league goals this season.
Mourinho’s side are currently closer to the relegation zone than they are the top of the table, after losing three of their first five Premier League games. Their form is more relegation form, than that of reigning champions.
The fall from grace of Chelsea has been quite incredible this season. The Chelsea defence was the best in the Premier League last season and looked solid. The full-backs of Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta flanked the solid English central defensive partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill.
That solidness has turned to shakiness. Even without Courtois, Chelsea should be far more solid than they are currently showing. Blues boss Jose Mourinho will be scratching his head wondering what has happened to his previously solid backline.
Serbian international midfielder Nemanja Matic, despite his goal against Everton yesterday, has not been at his best this season neither has his central midfield partner Cesc Fabregas, who has struggled to recreate the form of his early Chelsea career.
Right-back Branislav Ivanovic was caught out on a number of occasions against Everton. The experienced defender is another who has struggled to find his form in the opening few games of the season.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho may have been slightly complacent in the summer and as I have mentioned in previous articles did not strengthen his squad significantly. Asmir Begovic and Radamel Falcao arrived to replace Petr Cech and Didier Drogba respectably earlier in the season.
Later in the transfer window the Blues also brought in left-back Baba Rahman, winger Pedro and centre-back Papy Djilobodji. Spanish international winger Pedro has made a good start to his Blues career, but Rahman and Djilobodji have yet to feature.
Rahman was brought in to give Azpilicueta competition at left-back and the former-Augsburg star may now get a chance in that position in the near future, with Azpilicueta maybe switching to right-back to replace the out-of-form Ivanovic.
It looks unlikely that Mourinho will call on Djilobodji to shore up that shaky defence, as he was only brought in as back-up for the other defensive options.
It is still very early in the Premier League campaign and there is a lot of football to be played in the top-flight. However, Manchester City have started the campaign in commanding form and have yet to even concede a goal.
Chelsea cannot afford to continue in the same vein for much longer if they are to have any chance of catching Manuel Pellegrini’s team this season. The Blues are already 11 points behind the team from Manchester.
There is too much quality within that Chelsea squad for the champions to continue performing so badly though. Next up for Mourinho’s side is a home game against London rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge next Saturday, which could be a defining moment in the Blues season.
What has gone wrong at Chelsea this season?