Friday, April 19, 2019

Chelsea may not be title contenders after all

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 26 Nov 2018

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I have to admit when I watched Chelsea in some of their early games I thought the Blues had a real chance of mounting a serious challenge for the Premier League title.

However, the wheels have rather fallen off Maurizio Sarri’s title challenge in their recent top-flight. A 3-1 defeat at Tottenham on Saturday evening saw the Blues 17 game unbeaten run in all competitions ended. The defeat came after a rather lacklustre goalless home draw with Everton before the international break.

Capitulated in defence

The game against Tottenham displayed Chelsea’s weaknesses at the back. The Blues have looked fairly solid, but against their London rivals, they were exposed over and over again.

In honesty, Tottenham could have had six or seven goals neither mind three. The Blues were all over the place in defence. Brazilian Sideshow Bob impersonator David Luiz has returned to his old ways of poor defending.

Luiz’s central defensive partner Germany international Antonio Rudiger did not exactly cover himself in glory, while full-backs Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso produced very rare poor defensive performances.

Granted, Spurs do have a lot of attacking talent in their ranks, but Chelsea allowed the home side chances almost at will.

Dependent on Eden Hazard

There is a worrying trend for Chelsea developing in the last few games, in that if Hazard does not turn up the Blues struggle to create much in the attacking third. The Belgian international is one of the best players in the top-flight on his day.

He is the sort of match-winning player any team would love to have in their team. The playmaker can create things out of nothing and is no doubt the Blues talisman. However, Hazard has a habit of going missing in games, and when he does he is virtually useless to the Blues. His consistency has improved this season, with Maurizio Sarri seemingly getting more out of the former Lyon star.

The last few Premier League games have shown that in tough games, other Blues players seem to find it hard to step up and create something for the team. Successful Chelsea teams of the recent past have relied upon Hazard to a degree. However, Spanish striker Diego Costa also played a major part in the Blues last two title triumphs.

At the minute, Chelsea do not have such an imposing attacking figure. Alvaro Morata’s form had improved in recent months, but in truth, he can blow hot and cold and he is not the sort of player the Blues can rely on to win them games.

Need to concentrate on a top-four challenge

Despite early promise under the excellent Sarri, it is starting to become clear that the Blues are not quite ready for a title challenge just yet. Last season the team from south west London finished fifth place, thus missing out on the lucrative Champions League.

Sarri has made a good start to life at Stamford Bridge, but as the Italian stated in an interview after the Tottenham defeat, he has plenty of problems to sort out.

Maybe the Blues should be concentrating on finishing in the top four this season, which they are odds of 1/3 to achieve this season. The top-four is maybe a more realistic target considering Manchester City’s relentless form in the top-flight this season.

Chelsea do look a better team than last season. However, their last two performances and results show that the Blues still have plenty of work to do before they return to the top of the English football tree.

Can Chelsea win the Premier League title this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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