Andre Villas-Boas faces the most critical week of his short Chelsea career.
The young manager is desperately clinging to his job after just five months in charge of a team that has made the worst start in the Abramovich era. Many observers believe that AVB will only be in position until Chelsea's next defeat, and that the next Premiership match against Newcastle this Saturday and Valencia in the Champions League next Tuesday will define his stay.
The media are reporting that AVB is ready to drop Fernando Torres after running out of patience with the out-of-form striker. Torres was recalled to the Chelsea starting lineup for Tuesday's Carling Cup quarter-final loss to Liverpool after four games on the bench but was unable to influence the game.
Now AVB will again turn to Didier Drogba for the vital Premier League visit to Newcastle.
The under-fire Portuguese boss stated yesterday, "We're going back to 4-3-3 at Newcastle,” and that will undoubtedly give rise to comment.
Arguably the defeat by Liverpool in the Carling Cup game should bring some changes to the playing style that Chelsea has used this season. Chelsea has been susceptible to quick counters for weeks and yet AVB persists with a high-line defence and a having his defenders bombing forward.
The obstinate manager has finally caved in to demands to play Branislav Ivanović at right back, but has yet to accept that David Luiz is a liability in the penalty area. Luiz was lucky not give away a penalty early in the Carling Cup game. That is not to say that Luiz is not a talented footballer but, as many pundits suggest, he could be played further forward.
Here is the team Chelsea might consider for the trip to Newcastle:
Ivanović, Alex, Terry, Cole.
Ramires, Mata, Lampard
By playing 4-2-3-1, Chelsea might offer some resilience in defence, especially with Drogba there to help defend set plays, during which the team has looked vulnerable in recent games.
It is clear that AVB is running out of time. A ruthless owner will not tolerate seeing his investment mismanaged much longer.