Another autumn swoon by Chelsea is threatening to cause Roberto Do Matteo his job.
Chelsea has won just three of their last seven games, and defeat against Juventus in Turin on Tuesday would leave Champions League dreams hanging by a thread. A loss in Italy would allow Juventus to leap-frog Chelsea in the standings and they would no longer control their own destination.
Six months ago Chelsea were crowned European Champions. Could they really not qualify for the group stages?
Chelsea return from Turin to face Manchester City in a must-win game at Stamford Bridge next weekend. Chelsea trail league leaders City by four points, and you wonder that if that leads stretches to seven, whether Chelsea’s title dreams could be over before December 1st?
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not known for his patience, and everyone knows that Di Matteo is not his first choice manager. That is Pep Guardiola, who is sitting in New York taking a year’s sabbatical. Whether Abramovich could persuade Guardiola to leave New York could have a lot to do with whether Di Matteo keeps his job.
So what has gone wrong at Chelsea? Chelsea’s problems are at both ends of the pitch. The loss of John Terry to suspension and injury has really hurt Chelsea’s defensive. Chelsea has not kept a clean sheet in the league since beating Stoke 2-0 on 22 September. That is almost TWO months ago!
If anyone watched Chelsea in pre-season though that is not a surprise. In Chelsea’s opening game in its USA Tour, the Seattle Sounders cut the Chelsea defense to shreds and teams haven’t stop.
It is all fine and well having the attacking skills of Oscar, Mata and Hazard, but that attacking force comes with a price, and teams are finding it much easier to counter-attack Chelsea than I can ever remember. That trio love going forward, but they don’t like to defend and the rest of the Chelsea team is getting overrun.
And Chelsea’s tactic of trying to outscore teams is not working. Let’s face it. The Fernando Torres experiment was a costly mistake. I think that Daniel Sturridge made more runs beyond defenders in the last 15 minutes against West Brom than Torres has made in the last two months.
Chelsea have been linked with a big money move in January for Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.
Falcao would be a big improvement over Torres and Strurridge but until Di Matteo figures out how to make Chelsea better defensively, the European Champions will continue to struggle against the better teams.