The champions are wheezing. This has already been Chelsea’s worst start since 1998. They currently sit 8 points adrift of last season’s runners-up in the fledgling Premier League table. Of course it is too early to talk of crisis, with both Ivanovic and Costa having publicly pushed for improvement rather than panic, but should there be a panic? Should Chelsea fans begin to worry?
Although previous champions have come back from worse, there have only been two occasions in the last 10 seasons where a team has gone on to win the league having had fewer than six points from their opening three games.
So what is the reason for the slow start that has caused Stamford Bridge discomfort so far this season?
There have been pre-season complaints with the bulk of the Chelsea team only just returning for training on the 14th July. Chelsea returned to England after their US tour with only two full days to prepare for the Community Shield. In addition to this, the lack of transfer activity has not helped. They have been unable to replicate the early and impressively efficient transfer dealings that marked last summer’s stars. A year on from Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea have not actually added any competition for places a year on.
Finally, are Chelsea’s rocks at the spine of their team beginning to show their age? John Terry’s departure at half time was the first time he had been replaced in 177 games under Mourinho. Although the manager explained it being a tactical move to benefit the team with Zouma’s pace, the question rises, would this had been the case a couple of years ago? John Terry played every minute of every game last season, the whole team relied on him, however the captain will be turning 35 this year and the team cannot look to him in time of need and desperation every single time anymore.
The problem for Chelsea and the rest of the challengers in the Premier League this campaign so far is that Manchester City have begun with an intent which was lacking last season. They are sprinting ahead while others are stumbling behind, although it will be intriguing to see if City’s failure to get a point against Juventus in the Champions League and their failure to get 3 points against West Ham will affect the rest of their season.
The Premier League season has only just begun and this Chelsea team have shown in the past that they can gather momentum and steam roll ahead but it is safe to assume it was not supposed to start this way.