TREPIDATION NOT ANTICIPATION
As Chelsea fans we have always prided ourselves that ours has always been a team of trendsetters, often both on and off the pitch. A close look at our results this season sees us set a new trend. People talk of a season of two halves. So far we have had a season of three halves, or to be more precise mathematically, a season of three thirds, and we are still only half way there. We might even be on course to set a new record of having a season of six sixths if the current trend continues.
We have now played a total of twenty nine games in all competitions, winning sixteen, drawing ten and losing three, and that’s being slightly generous as I am counting the Burnley game as a draw. We have scored fifty five and conceded sixteen.
For a start it is obvious that this is far from trophy winning form. Winning just over half your games is NOT going to bring you any silverware. But what is more worrying is when you break down these stats into three blocks, or a season of three thirds as I called it before. Games one to ten saw us win seven and draw three. Games eleven to twenty resulted in six wins, two draws and two defeats (to Liverpool and Roma). Games twenty one to twenty nine saw us win only three in nine, draw five and lose one (to Arsenal).
As with every set of stats there are a million ways of looking at these figures but one undeniable fact is our results have got progressively worse as the season moved on. Only three weeks ago I wrote a rather upbeat piece on this website, the bottom line of my argument being that we were missing important players and it would be alright on the night once we got them back.
As with many of my forays into the fortune telling business, I have not quite got it right. Since my piece we have won only once, against bottom club West Brom and drawn three against Everton, Fulham and Southend. The players situation has remained roughly the same because since then Carvalho has come back but we lost JT to a three match ban. Drogba has been available regularly for the last four games but hasn’t made that much difference.
So why this sudden downturn in my optimism levels one might ask? I do confess that I have overindulged in both the food and drink departments over the holidays, adding a few extra pounds to my already extra ones, something that immediately changes my mood for the worse. But without trying to make any excuses for myself, results have not helped. Three wins in ten games is serious depression material.
It has been a strange season. The top clubs have been dropping points like they have gone out of fashion. I do believe that this season the so called smaller teams have better players and are better organized and are capable of giving the big four a run for their money. There have been many upsets but very worryingly for us, both Man U and Liverpool seem to have stepped up a gear over the last three games while we are firmly stuck in second.
Starting next Sunday we still have to take on Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal away before the end of the season. We haven’t managed to beat any of them this season at home. And just to add to your seasonal gloom, I will remind you that we haven’t beaten any of them away since Roman et al sacked God after a few games in 2007/8 season.
Despite Scolari’s and JT’s protestations, all doesn’t seem well at the club. Others have written about it elsewhere and for the first time in five seasons the boys don’t seem to have the stomach for a fight. Think back to season 2005/2006. Everything that could go wrong did on the injury front. Cech and Cudicini out at the same time. Same with JT and Carvalho. Robben, as per usual. Even Lamps missed games that season. And yet the lads fought every inch of the way, till that fateful day at the Emirates when even with a goal and a man down we fought back, got a draw and then went on to beat Man United in the FA Cup Final. I still have Jose’ doing his chin up sign to the fans as my screensaver. And we won the Carling Cup too for good measure that season.
This time round you look at the squad and try to figure up who, apart from the usual suspects, is going to roll up his sleeves and scrap it out a’ la Blackburn away in 2005 and so many matches since then. Bosingwa, fine when we’re two up but his head drops when things start to go wrong. Same goes for Ashley Cole and Anelka. Alex and Ivanovic? No heart if you ask me. Kalou, Malouda and Deco would run a mile if they were assaulted by a fly. Drogba, so often our talisman along with JT and Lamps, obviously doesn’t have his heart in it this season. Mikel, for all the plaudits he has received this season, is still miles away from coming close to what Makalele used to give us. Even Kezman and Tiago, who had a very ordinary season in their one year at Chelsea, chased harried, closed down and fought for the cause.
Think back to the players we lost over the last couple of years – Gallas, Eidur, Robben, Duff , Crespo and now Wayne Bridge. Ferreira has been ostracized. These were the players who gave the team heart. Jose’ even had Robben tackling back when the chips were down.
New signings are a must during this transfer window. Some of the players I mentioned have to be shipped out and a left winger brought in. Scolari has to go back to the drawing board and come up with Plans B and C. I would have a plan D too. Jose seemed to have plans that used up all the letters of the alphabet and then some more.
I have seen some rubbish players over the years wearing the blue shirt but Man United away always held a sense of anticipation. We have by far the best record of any Premiership club at Old Trafford. I have to say that this year rather than anticipation it is trepidation I am feeling about next Sunday’s game.