Friday, June 9, 2023

Must win game for Chelsea tonight

Graham Fisher in Editorial, English Premier League 29 Dec 2010


Worrying times at the Bridge

If Bolton were to win at Stamford Bridge tonight the home side would drop to sixth in the Premier League table. Whatever does happen, a few weeks ago you could have picked up a fortune by betting that Chelsea would go into tonight’s game in fifth place.


They have games in hand on Tottenham and Manchester City but they find themselves four points behind Arsenal and a country mile behind Manchester United. Those things simply did not look possible a few short weeks ago. Many people, myself included, just could not see anyone being capable of stopping a Chelsea side which looked almost unbeatable.

The run Chelsea have had has been as dismal as it was unpredictable. When they won 2-1 at Blackburn on 30th October they were top of the table by five clear points. They had twenty-five points and had scored twenty-nine goals from just ten games. It looked as though nothing could go wrong.


Since then they have won just once. A 2-0 defeat at Liverpool was followed by a particularly unimpressive 1-0 win at home to Fulham on 10th November. That was the last time they tasted victory. Draws with Newcastle, Everton and Tottenham, and defeats to Sunderland, Birmingham and Arsenal means a six game winless run and a slide down the table.

The draw at Tottenham last time out had looked as though they might be about to come out of the bubble of misery that has surrounded them for a while, but at The Emirates on Monday things went from bad to worse.


Manager Carlo Ancelotti was unambiguous in his after match comments.

“There is a lot of disappointment because the difficult moment continues. We are losing position in the table. We have to wake up immediately. I think we have a possibility to come back and fight for the title but we cannot have this type of performance in the future. We don’t have to think about the title, we have to think about moving on from this moment. We have to prepare well for the next game against Bolton and try to win.”

When asked how long he thought his boss Roman Abramovic would be prepared to accept the current run of form, Ancelotti dismissed the suggestion that his job may be under threat. However, he did express concern about the current position and current performances.


“I don’t know. Obviously he won’t be happy at this moment. I will take my responsibility but this is a question you have to ask him, not me. I’m not afraid about my job. Everyone said I did a fantastic job last year. Now people are asking me about my job. We have to do better, obviously. I’m worried, obviously, because that’s six games we’ve not been able to win. I didn’t see the team playing the way we want and we had difficulty playing our football. We’re obviously not so confident playing in this moment. I didn’t expect this defeat. I was surprised by this performance. I saw very good training sessions this week, so I was surprised by this performance.”

It is true that Chelsea showed little of what they capable of against Arsenal and they surrendered the game in a weak fashion that will have hurt the manager, players and fans alike. They simply look a shadow of the side that started the season so well.


The blip in form was largely blamed on the absence of some of their top players, but the tem that performed so badly at The Emirates included Cech, Cole, Terry, Essien, Lampard, Malouda and Drogba. Lack of regulars can hardly be used as an excuse now.

It would be disrespectful to a great manager in Carlo Ancelotti and great players like those listed above, to write them off already but they need to turn things around and they need to do so immediately. Two or three more games without a win and the title will become close to an impossibility if it isn’t already. They need to put things right and it needs to start tonight. The problem they face is that they are playing a Bolton side who are no mugs and have the incentive of knowing they will go above them in the league if they win.

There is a lot of talk of ‘pressure games’ and ‘must win games’, but tonight at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea face exactly that.


Graham Fisher



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