From the top into the middle, somewhere; The Tale of Chelsea’s drop

Pius Serugo

We might all have looked away from the fact that the defending champions are gradually sinking. Until it happens, we may not realise that Chelsea could be dropping out of the top 4.

Something’s been going wrong with the Blues for quite some time, but it seems like pep’s miracles at City and Mourinho’s falters at United have taken the most of attention. Did I just forget to mention how “little a man Jose is” to Conte? Well, that’s for them that won’t look at how the two are steadily drifting apart as per the standings.

Chelsea are Premier League’s Defending Champions and should by now be doing everything possible to push City and United till the end of the season.

However, ‘small’ problems have since the start of the season gradually let in pressure from the ‘little’ rivalry of Liverpool and Spurs. And now, their chances of top four finish hang in balance.

The London Club hasn’t had a particularly good season to compete for top spot, and are finding themselves in ‘the middle of somewhere, nowhere!’

Why do the Blues find themselves in this place?

 

Bad Transfers

At the start of the season, Antonio Conte got rid of some players someone would think were key to the set-up; – what did the men in the dugout at Stamford Bridge do?

Conte forced out Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic, and a host of others, but of course the Brazilian centre forward and the Serbian’s moves were the biggest blunders.

Both Alvaro Morata and Bakayoko have not brought the fit to the gaps left after the summer transfer window last year. Getty images.

The replacements in Alvaro Morata and Tiémoué Bakayoko meant there was need to be up from the start. Morata has tried his level best but, I am not yet convinced he’s filled his fellow country man’s shoes to full effect. May be yes, maybe not.

The bad of this business remains in midfield where Bakayoko sits. The French man brought in the speed the Italian coach needed but has increased the margin of error than negligible. He hasn’t lived up to expectation. He’s yet to provide a good change to the system so far. Maybe down the road he may come good (I can’t rule that out) but for now he’s not been any improvement to the team.

Phasing out David Luiz to be honest did not, and certainly won’t hurt as the Danish youngster, Andreas Christensen has provided a decent revelation to this particular change.

In other words, the transfers were badly done.

 

The Coach

Antonio Conte is the other problem that has been happening to the team. After just one season at the London Club, the Italian manager has always been on the way out but finding himself staying put. Is it that he is being forced to remain at the Club?

Antonio Conte was rumored to be closing his time out on Chelsea before the start of this season. Getty Images.

His reactions at some point have brought a difficult situation at the Club; – a broken continuity to a manager’s role and uncertain future, two of the biggest problems that have badly hurt the team. The Italian has lost focus more than any other manager, and the team seems to be steadily following his tread.

The Systems

Last season, Chelsea effectively utilised the 3-4-3 which gave them a good run, eventually winning the Premier League.

Antonio Conte might need to do more shouting before celebrations to earn consistent results from his new 3-5-2 system.

This season, it’s been a little bit different not only in the personnel but also in the system employed. Last season, the 3-4-3 had a Diego Costa-Hazard-Willian or Pedro. But this season, it’s been reverted to the 3-5-2. The Blues have played with more midfielders but only allowed two strikers something which has not effectively worked.

Hazard has been good at rotating in all directions but he will always drift a lot on the left side of the system. The Belgian is being played in the number ten role but his contribution would be more felt down the left than the middle.

On the right, Victor Moses and Davide Zappacosta can provide the mantle but cannot create the counter balancing effect like Willian.

Just like it was before the departure of Mourinho and last season, Willian has always provided a counter balancing role that adds commitment to the Blues than any other player. Benching the Brazilian is one of those ‘minor issues’ that are hurting the London Club this season.

If you have watched the few games Willian has played alongside, Hazard, you could see the spark the two create. Recently, in the demolition of Crystal Palace, Willian was instrumental at providing the support, balance and penetration to Conte’s side.

If you did see how Chelsea were taking the ball to Arsenal, before Willian’s injury, you could see that there was a great influence they lost before falling out of the EFL Cup.

If only Conte could push Hazard wider on the left and get Willian on the right to restore a 3-man attack, that would give a Chelsea a more forward and make them a more attacking threat

Having Morata as a target man and hazard as a 10, may not be bad, but they have been found out a little bit more than excusable. Chelsea have seemingly lost that bit of attacking prowess they had last season.

 Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard is without doubt the star of the team but has not provided enough to his billing.

To start with, Hazard has been a very good player and has been somewhat consistent but lacks the commitment to deliver for the Club.

He (Hazard), like Conte has also created series of broken commitments, especially when he tried to force a move to Real Madrid, only that he was snubbed. If we can recall the time he spent out, ‘injured’ but got involved in Belgium’s international break football.

 

The Belgian international has twice wanted to walk away from the Stamford Bridge. Getty Images

Now that they find themselves out of the EFL Cup, with the Champions League and Premier League out of their class, the only realistic options remain the FA and top four spot.

If they do not sort out those ‘small’ issues, it won’t be long before they find themselves struggling to remain in the top four.

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