After the first two months of the Primer League, Chelsea were sat at the top looking down on everyone.
Most pundits, journalists and even Premier League managers correctly claimed Chelsea were the team to beat.
However, this has all changed and now most fans accept retention of the title is out of the question, and now we are chasing the leading pack to even qualify for the Champions League. How has the happened?
In my opinion, the main problem Chelsea had was the size of the squad. In the summer we let Deco, Belletti, Carvalho, Joe Cole and Ballack depart from our team.
Although I agree all these players were past their own very high standards and on ridiculous wages, they still needed replacing with players that Carlo could of put his trust in.
With the only major signings of the two previous seasons being Yuri Zirhkov, who has struggled with injury and hasn’t really justified the money spent on him, and Ramiers, who now looks like a real athlete who complements our midfield.
Chelsea’s squad was thin and dependant on youth this season, which hasn’t worked and I think Carlo will put his hands up and admit it. Since the turn of the year, things have definitely improved within the squad. The signing of Fernando Torres and David Luiz have only strengthened our team, and in particular our defence.
With no more Paulo Ferreira to occupy the centre half position when we are missing a couple of players, David Luiz looks like a real coup, as long as JT helps develop and educate him on the style of the Premier League.
I’m also very impressed with how we have let four of our most promising players out on loan, to good sides who will only aid their development and give them real first team action.
Sturridge in particular, who under Owen Coyle will bag loads of confidence and hopefully improve his touch and decision making, which will only come from competitive game time. This will only help Chelsea as a club and the individual players in their careers, hopefully as a blue.
In a previous article, before the January transfer window I discussed our transfer options and the need for a new defender but also the need for a new right sided winger or midfielder in a similar mould to Malouda and I still stand by this.
Against Fulham, we dominated possession but lacked the final ball, 4 shots on target from 22 was not good enough and Fulham were happy to restrict us to long range shots. I’m not sure whether the passing was poor but there was a distinct lack of width and although Malouda and Cole work extremely well together, we need a similar combination on the other side of the pitch.
I’m a fan of Anelka, but when teams set up to defend the way they do when they see Chelsea he plays himself out of the game; dropping 50 yards to pick a ball up in the centre of the park when you’re on the right side of a front three is ineffective.
In these situations we need a player who can attack full backs and get into the box. Kalou came on in the second half and played in the right position, but gave the ball away far too many times. He’s been at Chelsea long enough now and is yet to convince me he can deliver consistent quality performances which is required to play for the Champions.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea do sign a winger in the summer, I’m hoping we stick with the South American theme and look at signing Chilean international, Alexis Sanchez from Udinese. He’s a fantastic player who if able to make the step up, could become a world class player.
For now, Carlo has until the end of the season to save his job. Personally I hope Roman keeps faith, but he’s a businessman and when you invest £70m, you demand a return.
Chelsea are still battling on 3 different fronts and potentially we can still have an absolutely fantastic season, making history winning the FA cup for the third time in a row, which I believe having Luiz available for will only increase our chances, with two home ties potentially on the horizon.
The Champions League begins again next week for Chelsea and we will have Torres available as unfortunately Liverpool didn’t make it this year, shame.
This is a real boost for the club, not only to have his ability but also to improve the competition for places, both Drogba and Torres know they have to work hard and contribute in other ways, not just with goals.
Every Chelsea supporter is hoping it will spur us on to finish in the top four or better, but to hopefully go one step closer than we did in 2008, to winning the Champions League.