It has been a strange Premier League season to date with Leicester leading the table prior to the weekend fixtures, and the Foxes maintained their position at the head of affairs by beating Chelsea 2-1 on Monday evening. Such is the current predicament of the Chelsea team that should they be beaten by Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, then they could be positioned in the relegation zone with nearly half of the season completed. A similar scenario was developing in the Bundesliga last term when Borussia Dortmund were bottom of the league at one stage only to stage a late season revival and qualify for the Europa League. Are Chelsea capable of producing a similar turnaround in their fortunes?
Now that Jose Mourinho has departed as Chelsea boss amid reports of a boardroom meeting to discuss the managerial situation after continued rumours of discontent in the dressing room, the dust may now settle on a traumatic few months of publicity at club. The open disagreement with club doctor Eva Carneiro during the first match of the season appeared to ignite the problems at Stamford Bridge with Mourinho recently appearing at press conferences as a rather an unkempt and unshaven individual. He then openly questioned the attitude of some of his senior players which suggested unease and growing pressure at Chelsea.
In their last seven Premier League outings no more than one goal has been netted by the team and just one domestic league victory has been registered on the road this term. Yet a glance at the match statistics from Monday’s evening’s clash with Leicester proves that Chelsea are not being outplayed, as they dominated possession for most of the game but were not as efficient with shots on target compared to their opponents.
It may just be that Premier League teams are now becoming more aware of the Chelsea tactics with Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa unable to reproduce their form from last term and several goals arriving from the direct free-kicks of Willian. Having won all three Champions League ties on home soil this season and won their respective group, there appears few signs of concern for the Blues on the European stage but their domestic campaign is floundering.
Surprisingly for Chelsea there was no significant signings during the summer transfer window with Pedro arriving from Barcelona and the remainder of the acquisitions becoming just fringe players among the senior squad. That situation may be rectified during the coming January market with a new manager.
Meanwhile, Chelsea must now hope that they can overcome Sunderland on Saturday but with newly promoted Bournemouth claiming three points at Stamford Bridge just two weeks previously via a 1-0 victory, a win for Chelsea is by no means a formality. Defeat by the Black Cats is unthinkable but the sports pages will now be dominated by the eventual successor to the colourful Mourinho.