Chelsea went into yesterday’s match against Newcastle’s understanding that winning was extremely significant. They now face a punishing run of fixtures that will see them face lots of their opponents for the top 4, and they had the last opportunity to pick up points from a weaker side prior to the challenging stretch.
They failed to get anything from the match at St James’ Park nevertheless, and football odds throughout the board have them slipping down the rankings and appearing less likely to reach the Champions League than we have for months. Poor shape, combined with these hard forthcoming fixtures, means that religion in Frank Lampard’s ability to lead this young team to the top 4 this year is beginning to fade after an impressive start.
It is not over yet, and the benefit of this collection of matches from our rivals is that we’re able to swing things back hugely in our favour. However, it’s definitely going to be an uphill struggle, and we’ll need to make our own luck.
1 thing which will be in our favor is that the installation of the matches. Our actual battles have come in games like yesterday, where the resistance has sat deep and defeated us. This side lacks the finesse and imagination to break down defences in these circumstances; and works much better when we play teams of a higher degree.
Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante are not suited for finely constructed passing sequences, they’re runners and chasers who require space in supporting to function at their very best.
So on that front at least, we ought to see our installation function better in the matches to come. The thing is that these teams also provide much more attacking threat than teams like Newcastle, because of the more aggressive mindset and the superior quality of the players. That could be a critical issue. Right now, we have got a goalkeeper desperately from shape and a clutch of center backs who seem to share the exact issues. Lampard has apparently tried every possible combination of defenders to get a mix that works, but each week the exact issues return.
That’s the glaring problem at this time, as well as the aforementioned lack of accuracy in the last third. So lots of our defensive issues have come in games such as Saturday’s, where our lack of cutting edge has pushed us into over-committing hugely and finding ourselves caught out, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger and co. will look a lot more comfortable if we are passing the ball around in the back at 2-0 up instead of desperately holding the line in the back as the rest of the group to push ahead in search of a target.
Nobody ought to be panicking and buying players that aren’t the ideal match long term could be a much larger problem than a few bad results against poorer teams. But with only ten days left of the window along with a squad that is looking short in many areas, there’ll probably be extreme frustration if they don’t begin to see tangible moves made within the next week.
When it is a goalkeeper, a defender, a creative midfielder or a striker, the ideal move this winter can make a big difference in this forthcoming run of matches, and there is no time to waste.