There has been talk of a crisis at Chelsea as the Blues have made their worst start to a season for 10 years. Jose Mourinho has rubbished these claims, and it is natural that the players would take a while to settle into his style.
He seems to be correct, as his squad have lost just one of their eight Premier League games whilst playing some beautiful football, but there are a few things that will be giving The Special One cause for concern.
Samuel Eto’o scored his first goal for Chelsea against Cardiff on October 19. The well-worked strike was not just the first goal for the Cameroonian veteran since his move from Russia this summer, but it was also the first Premier League goal from any of Chelsea’s frontmen this season.
Granted, Chelsea’s attacking midfielders are more than capable of grabbing goals themselves, but the fact that only two of their 23 goals so far have been scored by their eye-wateringly expensive strikeforce is certainly a worry. They were plagued by the same problem last season, and although they came away with the Europa League trophy, Mourinho will want to significantly improve on that record.
One of the standout features of Mourinho’s first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge was the practically impenetrable defence. The centre-back pairing of Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry conceded a Premier League-record 15 goals over the whole 2004-05 season, but the Blues have already let in a third of that total in mid-October.
Although David Luiz is a bit of a liability at the back, it is the lack of a solid defensive midfield pairing that leaves them exposed, and they need to stop shipping so many goals sooner rather than later.
Chelsea have one of the most exciting squads in the Premier League at the moment, and when they connect on the same wavelength, it is magnificent to watch.
However, this connection has only come in flashes so far. The Blues have dominated possession in the majority of their fixtures, only to go behind. They have played at their best in backs-to-the-wall situations such as the UEFA Super Cup match against Bayern Munich, but with the amount of talent at their disposal they should be bossing games from the get-go.
They also need to be aware of dropping their concentration, as they did in the 2-1 loss to FC Basel, lest it happen in a crucial must-win game later in the season.
Chelsea have hit the target with 33 percent of their shots this season, per whoscored.com. Averaging 18 shots per game, 48 percent of those strikes have been from outside the box. League leaders Arsenal have a 48.5 percent shooting accuracy from an average of 15 shots per game, 40 percent of which have come from outside the box.
The number of shots on goal is certainly a good thing, and the Blues have the quality to still be averaging 1.75 goals per game. However, in the 1-0 defeat to Everton, only six of their 22 shots were on target. Chelsea will need to be more methodical at breaking down defences to avoid dropping points against their title rivals.
Only four players have started every Premier League game for Chelsea so far this season: Petr Cech, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Ramires. Mourinho has rotated the other seven players as he continues the search for his best XI.
He certainly knows how to use his players to best effect, and his recent substitutions have shown that he is still a master tactician. However, he will want to increase the number of certain starters to at least six by January so that he can best prepare for the end-of-the-season run.