One word. Unimpressive. We were in a real danger of dropping points for the first time at home and even though Hull did not have too many clear chances, one got the feeling of deja vu that it was only a matter of time before Hull nicked one in.
That was until Tom Huddlestone had a reckless challenge on Luis and was rightly given his marching orders. But this Chelsea side will take little away from this performance and no matter how much Mourinho may claim Chelsea being the league leaders, there is little doubt that this team has lost some of its form and is clearly not at the pace-setting level of the first three months of the season.
Why is it so? I analyse the reasons below:
1. Matic-Fabregas Pairing: If anyone had any doubts, the last few games have proved that Fabregas and Matic form the engine of this team and with either of them missing, this is just not the same Chelsea side. Without Matic, the break-up play of Chelsea suffers and that gives the opposition so much more possession in the middle of the pitch. Newcastle exploited the same and so would any other quality team. Without Fabregas, besides the glaring through passes that we miss, the opposition also tends to have more bandwidth to deal with Hazard because neither Ramires nor Matic (when playing with Mikel) has the skills to do a one-two with Oscar. If either of them gets injured, Chelsea’s season will be under serious threat. And that makes it so much more important for Mourinho to sign Khedira in the next summer when his contract at Madrid gets over. That should also create more competition for Oscar as Fabregas can play no. 10 and give the whole team real flexibility.
2. Diego Costa: Finally, he had a goal! 12 goals in 13 games already seems like very little reason to complain, but in his last 9 games he has scored only four. Yes we knew that his early pace was unlikely to continue but when you do little else than fire ’em in inside the area, I believe fans have a right to expect more. Costa can go missing from the games and that’s alright because the moment he shows up he is a massive threat. But he just has not been doing a good enough job of creating spaces against defences better prepared for him in the league. Against Hull, there were also a couple of occasions when he could have taken a shot from outside the box but instead passed the ball to Willian and Schurrle and the moves resulted in nothing. As a striker, it’s not just the clear cut chances but also the half chances that he must be taking. I really hope that this goal is just the kick he needed to get firing again. With three of our next four games (against Stoke, West Ham. Southampton, and Tottenham) away from home, we’re gonna need him to be at his clinical best. Time for the beast to show up. Time for The Guv’nor to command.
3. Willian: He does so well and yet there is that feeling that he has improved very little from the last season. He is a good Mourinho player and gives it his all on the field with incessant tracking and running, but I really expect him to lose possession less often. I had this issue earlier as well, but with Fabregas and Costa being new arrivals, one would think of giving wingers a little more time to settle. Now there has been enough time. Willian needs to step up from the supporting cast and decide a game or two for Chelsea. He needs to be quicker in his decisions and move the ball as quickly as Fabregas, Hazard and Oscar do. Also, his shots need to be more precise and powerful. Every time his shots have power, they are over the bar. And on occasions when he hits them on target, they just lack in power. If that doesn’t improve, I really think Mourinho may want to swoop for Marco Reus in the summer.
A week back, I had made a few predictions for the December fixtures. They haven’t turned out so well. We lost to Newcastle (I predicted a victory) and City won against Leicester (I predicted a draw). I hope I am wrong on other predictions too because I had predicted Chelsea drawing at least two of their next three away games. You look at City’s fixture list and that of Chelsea and it is hard to see City dropping points till Jan 1. They are breathing right down our necks and we must win the next four premier league games. Around the same time, last year, Mourinho said that this is still not the team to which he can lay down targets of winning the next five games, and he had to go game by game. But I really hope that this season he has that team because we must, no matter how, win our next five games (six if you count the FA Cup fixture too).
The silver lining is that we are done with our suspensions. One got the feeling that the balance was a little off with Costa, Matic and Fabregas being suspended for different matches. Now the best Chelsea side should start the games starting Stoke away. That has to be our best chance of hitting top gear and all it would take is one massive performance. A 3-0 or a 4-0 victory against Stoke (high hopes, yes, but if not this Chelsea side, then who?) could really set the ball rolling and the confidence up which was so crucial in us dominating the EPL like it was nobody’s business.
Fingers crossed. Blue blood, as ever. KTBFFH.
P.S.: Its the ninth season of Jon Obi Mikel and what the hell is he still doing here? Have hated him since day 1 because he is such a passenger in possession. Fans booed the style of play against Hull and rightly so. Mikel took us back a couple of seasons and with the style that we play, he just has no place whatsoever in the side. Someone please just get Khedira and kick him out. And please, oh please, don’t mention his percentage passing. For a guy who takes 3 touches before every pass, anything less than 100 per cent pass success is sheer insult to football. #MikelOut.
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