The majority of English football fans will have enjoyed the plight of Chelsea so far this season. Some would say it’s comeuppance for the arrogance of Jose Mourinho, and the brutish (see dirty) tactics of the bulldog Diego Costa.
Before the season kicked off, they were favorites to retain their title and 500/1 to be relegated. Their initial inept bumblings against City, Palace, Southampton and Everton didn’t do much to shorten their relegation odds, but as the struggles have persisted, the odds have started to tumble. What was a 500/1 shot as recently as the end of October is now into 66/1. Still unlikely, but less unlikier than it once was.
The ‘this sh!t got real moment’ seems to have come with their annihilation at the hands of Liverpool at the Bridge. Jurgen Klopp’s arrival was expected to bring an upturn in fortune, but the manner in which a previously uninspiring Liverpool team tore the Blues apart seems to have been a turning point. The odds tumbled to 200/1 – still massively unlikely. Defeat to Stoke followed and the price fell some more, but a win at home to Norwich and respectable draw away to Tottenham seemed to have steadied the ship. A home defeat to Bournemouth and then away to Leicester have seen the price cut to it’s current 66/1 level.
The champions have only won four times in 16 attempts so far this year. The incredible fortress that was Stamford Bridge under Mourinho has been breached four times. No side has ever managed to win the league from the current position that they find themselves in (they’re to pull off a miracle).
The best Chelsea fans can hope for is a run for the Champions League places, and even after the loss to Leicester, that isn’t looking likely. We have them at .
A disinterested Eden Hazard, a misfiring and disgruntled Costa and an out of sorts form Oscar means it’ss been Willian’s free kicks that’ve held Chelsea together for a lot of the campaign, particularly in European competition. They’ve not gone back to back wins at all this year.
Worringly for Chelsea, it’s not as if they’re dropping points from the medium of winning positions turning into draws. It’s feats that are doing the damage. So far this season:
- They’ve the 3rd most defeats in the league
- They’re averaging 0.93 points per game
- They’ve the joint second worst goal difference in the league
People expect Chelsea to turn it around and at least attain some level of dignity before the end of the season. But is that actually going to happen? In terms of their points per game average, defensive record and defeats they’re smack bang on target for a tally that would have you scrambling in and around the relegation trap door. A radical improvement isn’t guaranteed.
Domestically, Chelsea still have to go to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, as well as hosting Manchester City. Over the next two weeks they have Sunderland, managed by a tactical nemesis of Mourinho in Sam Allardyce, a Watford team that have that dreaded combination of decent form and nothing to lose. Then it’s trips to Manchester United and Crystal Palace before the FA Cup 3rd Round begins. At least two wins would be expected from those games, but with Chelsea’s form, that’s not guaranteed. To paraphrase Kevin Keegan, they will probably turn the corner, but it’s hard to see exactly where that corner is.
At this stage last year, they were top, and clear by three points over Manchester City, averaging 2.5 points per game and starting to look like the machine Mourinho often turns his teams into. Costa was scoring week in week out and Eden Hazard looked like he had the potential to be a third horse in the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon D’Or two horse race. That’s not the case 12 months on.
But like a bad Tinder date, Jose Mourinho stuck around, which usually causes a drop in form. He is yet to stay at a club for more than three years. It was the third year of his first spell at the Bridge when Roman Abramovich had enough and gave him the sack, a couple of more defeats and The Special One will be sweating more than Gary Neville after a fajita. It must be said that the Champions League will perhaps give him a stay of execution, but anymore dropped points in ‘easy games’ and the Russian will have his finger just hovering slightly over the trigger.