STUTTERING Chelsea face a potentially decisive week with the Blues set to play Manchester City twice.
The luck of the draw has left Graham Potter staring at a daunting seven days as he looks to drag the club back on track.
But things could not be much more difficult – Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness led the criticism after Chelsea’s limp and unconvincing draw at Nottingham Forest.
“Soft” and “powderpuff” was how they branded yesterday’s showing at the County Ground.
It’s an extraordinary turnaround from 11 months ago when the West London club were the Champions League holders and had just won the Club World Cup.
But the year rapidly descended into chaos with turmoil at boardroom level and a managerial sacking amid poor results.
Most alarmingly, Chelsea have fallen flat on the pitch.
Yesterday’s performance was the latest sign that the Blues have yet to find their footing under Potter.
Goals remain the most pressing issue – Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz are the top scorers with four each so far this season.
League leaders Arsenal have four players who have hit five or more, while Manchester City have seen lethal Erling Haaland net 21 in record quick time.
That is one more goal than Chelsea have managed in the league all season.
This season the Blues have conceded 11.3 shots on their goal on average compared to the 7.6 effort they make on opponents’ goal.
And they have 11 points fewer points after 16 games than they did at the same stage last season, when Thomas Tuchel’s side topped the league.
This time Chelsea are 8th, beneath newly-promoted West London rivals Fulham on goal difference, and seven points off the top 4.
The Blues sat 5th after Tuchel’s final Premier League game against West Ham in September.
And this is all after the new ownership, led by Todd Boehly, splurged well over £250m on new signings amid questionable business decisions.
Graham Potter is already coming under pressure from fans for the season unravelling.
But the stats suggest the malaise can be traced back to the beginning of last year.
The Blues only picked up 57 points across the Premier League in 2022, 22 points fewer than Man City and Liverpool, 15 fewer than Newcastle and 14 fewer than Tottenham.
The Club World Cup win and a heroic if unsuccessful performance at Real Madrid aside, there was little for fans to shout about.
Two home defeats to Arsenal across the calendar year plus embarrassing results against the likes of Brentford and Brighton left supporters red-faced.
And the off the field issues of Roman Abramovich’s sanctions, Romelu Lukaku’s explosive interview and Tuchel’s dramatic sacking have not helped the mood.
Consistent injuries to wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell have also left Chelsea looking awkward in attack.
It all means Potter is facing a huge opening week to the new year.
Lose to Manchester City in the league on Thursday and in the FA Cup on Sunday and a trophyless, mid-table season looms.
Only an unlikely assault on the Champions League could provide a glimmer of hope for fans.
After this week, games against Fulham, Palace and Liverpool will arrive.
And if results do not start picking up soon, 2023 could prove to be a depressing one for Chelsea supporters.
News/ 2 weeks ago
EU imposes sanctions for sexual violence
On International Women’s Day, the EU is taking a stand against sexual violence: it...
News/ 2 weeks ago
Women’s Day in Iran: No day and every day
The official women’s day has no fixed place in the calendar in Iran. One thing...
News/ 1 month ago
Biden versus Putin: two speeches, two worlds
In Warsaw, the US President responded indirectly to the speech by the Russian ruler...