Chelsea’s marquee players are leading the club’s decline
No Chelsea player could hold his head high after the shocking display at the Emirates this weekend. As individuals and as a team, Antonio Conte’s men are not up to the task.
Gary Cahill has committed three errors leading to goals in the Premier League, more than any other player. Chelsea dropped points in each of those games, indicating the very real threat that Cahill poses to his own side. Factor in his unpunished error in the EFL Cup against Leicester, and he is firmly Chelsea’s worst centre-back. John Terry’s and Kurt Zouma’s return could not come at a better time.
Branislav Ivanovic is no longer a Chelsea-caliber defender, and he has never been an adequate cpatain. His performance against Arsenal made quite clear that he no longer deserves his place at in the starting XI, let alone wearing the armband.
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Ivanovic completed the fewest passes of any player, completed no tackles or crosses and made zero interceptions. By contrast, newcomer Marcos Alonso completed the most tackles of any Chelsea player despite playing just over 30 minutes.
Jose Mourinho paid the price for failing to realise how poor Ivanovic has become. Antonio Conte is treading the same bleak path.
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Neither Diego Costa nor Eden Hazard completed any shots in their combined 160 minutes on the pitch against Arsenal. Against Liverpool in the preceding Premier League game, Costa took only two shots while Hazard again took zero. In Chelsea’s first four games, they combined for over 20 shots.
Antonio Conte’s decision to sit back in the last two games has left both players isolated upfront. Conte needs to recognize the team’s strengths and play to these until he can secure the defensive signings he really needs.
Cesc Fabregas’ poor performance showed that he still is not ready to be a part of Conte’s plans. His dominance against Leicester City only occurred after Marcin Wasilewski was sent off. Fabregas has been anonymous in each of his starts and has only impressed coming of the bench. Amazingly, Antonio Conte subbed Fabregas off at the time he was most needed, when Arsenal ceded possession and territory to Chelsea.
Petr Cech, Filipe Luis, Kevin De Bruyne, Juan Mata, Mohamed Salah, Andre Schurrle, Juan Cuadrado, Romelu Lukaku, Thorgan Hazard… all players Chelsea boasted of and let go over the last 3 seasons. All – save for both Juans – are excelling at their current teams!
The Blues have had ten different coaches since 2003. Roman Abramovich’s short-termism has been Chelsea’s biggest problem, and the consequences of his policies are evident for all to see. Abramovich needs to give Conte the resources and the chance to build a long-standing legacy. Otherwise, last season and the first few games of this season will become normal around Stamford Bridge.