The pressure grew on Jose Mourinho as he watched on from the team hotel only to see his Chelsea lose 1-0 at Stoke City, thanks to a Marko Arnautovic strike.
Of course, the Portuguese was not present inside the Britannia Stadium due to his one match stadium ban, and given the result, for the sake of his own sanity it was perhaps best he was not there in person to see it.
Stoke were unchanged from their draw against Newcastle last weekend, and immediately forged an opportunity within a minute of kickoff, as Marko Arnautovic – who would prove to be a thorn in our side all evening – snatched an effort on the turn over the bar.
We recovered from that early Stoke chance to gain a foothold in the game and looked steady and comfortable in possession without causing too many issues for Jack Butland in between the Stoke goalposts.
We had our first decent chances not long after as we broke from a corner with Willian surging downfield, and rather than shoot he unselfishedly levelled it to Ramires who could only prod wide. Pedro whipped in a cross which narrowly evaded the onrushing Diego Costa moments later.
In the opening 20 minutes or so, it was fair to say this was a dramatically improved performance than in recent weeks. We looked far more stable in possession and played with the verve that has largely been devoid of our play all season long. Sure, Diego Costa was perhaps a touch isolated and Eden Hazard was quiet but on the whole this was an opening spell that would have made the most pessimistic Chelsea fan feeling pretty good about their chances in the blustery Britannia.
Ramires nearly scored a goal to match his fine strike at Newcastle earlier in the season, as a dipping 25-yard effort took the most acrobatic of saves from Butland to keep parity. Pedro was also proving a menace as the first half wore on, but sadly he could not have the impact needed as the half drew to a close.
The second half began much in the same vein as the first, with Chelsea doing all the pressing but not creating a proper clear cut chance to put us in a deserved lead. And, in the same vein as the whole of the season, we were made to pay for our profligacy. Mame Biram Diouf left Baba Rahman for dust and his ball into the area eventually got to the back post for the Austrian midfielder to impressive scissor kick home. A fine strike that Begovic could only manage to get fingertips to.
After some attack minded changes, with Fabregas, Oscar and Loic Remy all coming on as we went to three at the back. Half chances came and went but the most clear cut effort of the half for our men came to Eden Hazard, who with all the time in the world from 15 yards out failed to find the bottom corner in front of the travelling fans. You would have to assume that the Belgian of last season would have made no mistakes, but obviously bottomed out on confidence he failed to get the equaliser the team deserved.
Another great chance came our way as a Willian ball was met by Remy, who hurdled the on rushing Butland and lost his footing on landing and could only hook his effort over the bar while sprawling. In truth that was our final clear chance and the full time whistle went soon after.
While it’s clear the fans are backing him and Roman Abramovich is rumoured to be keeping the faith with Mourinho, question marks will be more prevalent than ever before as we slipped to our first hat-trick of league losses since 1999 leaving us three points above the drop zone. Two weeks will pass before we play our next game against Norwich, and it is only human to ask if Mourinho will be in the dugout for that game. Roman is known for his itchy trigger finger and surely with results not improving, it must be closer to pulling it.