There are many factors behind why Chelsea’s season has been an absolute disaster.
The public breakdown of Jose Mourinho’s relationship with his players, and some of his staff, an ageing squad being one year older, the poor form of Eden Hazard and other key figures.
But perhaps there is no greater reason for their fall from grace than a dramatic drop in the standard of their defending – three more goals were conceded in yesterday’s 3-3 draw with Everton.
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The Blues were the defensive standard bearers last season as they romped to the Premier League title, letting in only 32 goals all season. They have now conceded 34 already this campaign.
Only twice since the arrival of Roman Abramovich and the spending power that came with him have Chelsea ended a season having shipped more than that figure – 2011-12 and 2012-13.
And they are firmly on course to exceed the 46 goals that they conceded in 2012-13 – the highest of the Abramovich era. At their rate of 1.54 goals per game, they will end the season having leaked 58.
Their new-found defensive fragilities had never been greater exposed than at Stamford Bridge yesterday, where the manner of the goals against could not have been further from Chelsea’s previous identity.
Goal one: long-serving captain John Terry – on his 700th appearance for his boyhood club – clumsily puts into his own net to give Everton a 50th-minute lead, but is not the sole culprit here.
Thibaut Courtois needs to be more demanding. He should be claiming that cross. How does Leighton Baines have so much space? Why isn’t the ball cut out by one of the two defenders at the near post?
Goal two: Kevin Mirallas brilliantly finds the bottom corner with a shot on the turn to double Everton’s advantage on 56 minutes, but Chelsea could have defended the situation much better.
Where is the pressure on the cross? Why has right-back Branislav Ivanovic been dragged so far out of position? How is Mirallas allowed to turn and shoot while surrounded by four Chelsea bodies?
Goal three: Ramiro Funes Mori converts at the back post in the 90th minute to give Everton a 3-2 lead. Only a goal deep into stoppage time from Terry retained Guus Hiddink’s unbeaten record.
Ivanovic and Kurt Zouma are motionless, the latter with a hopeful arm raised for offside. Two Everton players have five yards to themselves at the back post. How is that possible in the aftermath of a corner?
This is not the defending of champions but rather relegation candidates. Could Chelsea, 14th in the table, find themselves in serious trouble? If they do not improve at the back, then they are asking for it.
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