On Saturday, Chelsea essentially had their clocks cleaned by their neighbors to the north, Arsenal, in the Blues' own backyard. A 5-3 defeat saw the West Londoners drop all three points for the second week in a row.
It was a wide open game, which proved to be Chelsea's undoing in the end.
There are a lot of people to blame for today's result, but there are a few players in particular who stand out as people who shouldn't be anywhere near the pitch in games of this caliber. Here are three of those particular players and who I believe should replace them.
Daniel Sturridge is a great player with a lot of potential. His record on loan last season was awing, scoring eight goals in just 12 appearances for Bolton Wanderers. Since he's returned from loan and made his way into Chelsea's usual starting line-up, he's scored an impressive four goals in just six Premier League appearances.
But despite how good he is, he just isn't experienced enough to be playing in these high-profile games just yet.
We saw this against Manchester United as well as today, where his runs weren't good enough most of the time, and when he did get the ball he tried to audaciously take on three defenders (always unsuccessfully) just to get in the box to shoot. This is not what a winger should be doing.
I understand he's natural center-forward, and is instinctively apt to want to cut in and take shots himself, but it has not and will not work against the big teams like it does against the weaker opposition like Bolton and Swansea, etc.
I say play Sturridge in the majority of our games to gain experience, but he must be left out against the stronger, so called "big" clubs until he becomes more seasoned in the winger role.
He probably won't be a popular choice among readers, but he's the man who should be playing as our right-winger in high-profile matches.
Anelka catches a lot of flak from fans, but his performances are always consistent. He's a very unselfish player, almost always passing the ball to a player in a more advantageous position rather than taking irresponsible and downright stupid shots like Sturridge tends to do. He has an impressive awareness on the pitch and probably doesn't get the credit he deserves from the fans.
He also has over a decade of experience in playing against the top teams in the world, and can perform against them much better than Sturridge at this point.
I'm certain that if he had been fit and not played over two hours just three days ago in our Carling Cup game against Everton, he would have been Sturridge's replacement over Florent Malouda, even though it's my belief that he should be starting over Sturridge in these matches altogether.
Okay, so he's not a regular starter, but my point is that he never should come off the bench at all.
It still kind of puzzles me how AVB will not substitute Lukaku into easy games when we're three or four goals up, but throws the 18-year-old into high-profile games and expect him to save us.
We saw the same thing in the Manchester United game. Things weren't going well, and AVB panics and throws Lukaku in. If his performances show us anything, it's that he isn't ready for regular football in the Premier League and certainly not ready to be a sub in an important game like the one we had today.
What he needs in order to adapt to the league and hopefully one day live up to his nickname—"the new Drogba"—is experience and regular playing time, which he can only get on loan.
He simply cannot be thrown into games against big opposition and be expected to have any meaningful impact, especially when he's being played out of position.
Essentially, instead of bringing Lukaku on off the bench, bring anyone else on over him, depending on which position is being switched.
For center-forward, we could easily bring on the big guns, such as Anelka, Drogba, etc.
For a wing position, I'd even bring on Malouda or Kalou before considering fielding Lukaku at this point, until he gets more experience under his belt.
The most obvious person on this list and certainly the most consensus-forming.
The overwhelming majority of Chelsea fans, from my own observations, are in agreement that Bosingwa is immensely questionable defensively.
He's favored now that his countryman André Villas-Boas has taken over the helm at Chelsea FC, but he's just not the kind of person you want out there in these in big matches. Against the smaller, easier teams maybe playing him at right-back is acceptable. But in these tough, high-profile games he really shouldn't even be on the subs bench.
His performance today was a joke, and his diabolical defending and immense lack of responsibility were the direct causes of André Santos' second half goal.
I realize that he's the best man for AVB's attacking-minded football since his abilities going forward mimic those of his counterpart Ashley Cole, but if your defenders can't defend they shouldn't be out there. I think it really is as simple as that.
So I think it's clear that in these matches against top-quality, big teams he should be nowhere near the pitch, as the games against Manchester United and Arsenal have conclusively shown.
Brana was our usual right-back last season, back when our defense was the best in the League.
Although those days seem far far behind us, I'm confident that with a little balancing between attack and defense, and the right players played and benched, we could restore our defense to the esteem it once had.
Ivanovic at right-back would be a huge step towards that objective.
Okay, maybe he's not as good going forward as Bosingwa, but considering he's playing in a defensive position and a defender should be able to first and foremost defend, he'd be my pick over the Portuguese in bigger matches and indeed most matches we play.
So in the end, I am in a way happy we lost this game. The defeat itself is upsetting of course, but it will show AVB that all is not well with this team, which seemed to be on fire for the past month. This is something that seems to have clouded the reality of its now flagrant weaknesses.
A lucky victory or a last-minute winner today would have papered over the cracks that are in this Chelsea squad. This somewhat demoralizing and humiliating defeat may just be what is needed to show the gaffer what still must be worked on and improved with our playing.
Thanks for reading, and to read further into this topic, see my article about the 5 Things Chelsea Learned form this London Derby.