Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Marseille on Wednesday night only added to their problems, with the Blues now seemingly bereft in confidence, and possibly in crisis. Chelsea have only one win in their last six league matches and have now lost their 100% record in this years Champions League. They urgently need to get their early season form back or they could slip further down the league table. The question on the lips of many a football fan is that of why is this crisis happening?
It is noticeable that the downturn in fortunes has taken place after the sacking of Ray Wilkins as assistant manager. To most of us, as outsiders, this sacking was simply bizarre, and undermined Carlo Ancelotti’s managerial qualities, as he had stated that he would have liked Wilkins to have remained as his assistant. Why this change was necessary is unknown, and there has been no real reason given for Wilkins’ departure, yet what is clear is that the departure of a much-loved figure within the Chelsea community has had a negative effect on Chelsea’s season, with Chelsea not yet registering a win in the league without Wilkins.
It does have to be taken into account that Chelsea have had many injuries and suspensions. Throughout this period, Frank Lampard has not been fit and Didier Drogba has been suffering from malaria. Both of these players are part of the backbone of the Chelsea starting eleven. Another important player, Michael Essien, has also served a three match suspension in the league, whilst Alex has had to undergo knee surgery.
These injuries and suspensions have only served to highlight how thin Chelsea’s squad is. Indeed, their bench for their 3-0 loss at home to Sunderland was Turnbull, van Aanholt, Bruma, McEachran, Sala, Kalou and Kakuta. If you compare that to Man City’s bench on the same weekend, of Given, Richards, Zabaleta, Barry, Vieira, Santa Cruz and Jo, it is obvious who has more strength in depth, despite Ancelotti’s claims that his squad is big enough. Ricardo Carvalho was not replaced in the summer, and with Michael Ballack, Deco and Joe Cole also leaving in the summer, Ramires and Yossi Benayoun do not offer enough quality support for the starting eleven.
Another major issue for Chelsea is their defence. Teams seem to have worked out that the Chelsea defence is not the impenetrable wall that it was under José Mourinho, and that by closing Chelsea down and attacking the soft centre of the defence, Chelsea are unable to cope with it. The defenders are making previously unheard of silly mistakes which are leading to goals, such as the goal gifted to Andy Carroll at Newcastle. Furthermore, under Mourinho, if Chelsea scored, it was unlikely that Chelsea would not win, whereas, only last week, Chelsea conceded an 86th minute equaliser at home to Everton.
With their next three opponents being Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, Chelsea and Ancelotti will hope that this blip is temporary, and they will be able to find once again the form that saw them looking like they would cruise to another Premier League title.