Chelsea are in the midst of a dismal run of form in the Premier League. Just one win and one goal in their past four matches.
This was a side only beaten once previously in the Premier League and was scoring for fun. So what’s changed?
Chelsea is a relatively old and injury-prone side. Of Chelsea’s preferred starting outfield players, four are past 30 and it will be six in December. Loking past the age, the squad’s depth has a history of injuries in Michael Essien, Jose Bosingwa and Yuri Zhirkov.
Add those factors up and you have a championship-calibre side short on available players. Making matters worse is manager Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to allow Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Deco all to move on this summer. It wasn’t a terrible move at the time as Chelsea, for the first time since coming into money, have a wealth of young players waiting to step into the first team.
Patrick van Aanholt, 20, looks to be ready to step into Ashley Cole’s boots if he decided to retire right now. Gael Kakuta, 19, is the wunderkind Chelsea nearly received an 18 month transfer ban over when he swapped Lens for west London and has looked capable of filling in on the wings or behind Drogba. And Josh McEachran, 17, is the new Jack Wilshire (that would be the next savior of England for those of you unfamiliar).
It seemed a good play, after all, it’s not like all three would be required to play for considerable amounts of time simultaneously, right? That’s been the problem for Ancelotti and Chelsea.
Essien has been injured and suspended, Frank Lampard is still injured, Yossi Benayoun could be lost for the season, Didier Drogba has been suspended, Bosingwa is just returning to match fitness after year on the treatment table, Zhirkov hasn’t been 100 percent healthy since he arrived at Chelsea in 2009, John Terry may well resume to action in weeks and not months after his leg/back injury, and Alex’s knee problem is still an unknown.
Ancelotti said Friday, “It is not the time now to speak about the missing players. We have to stay in focus with our players, they have good ability and did good performances before this moment, so we have to stay focused on these players.” That’s very positive and good management and all that, but it can’t be ignored that his side is hurting and his lack of depth is showing.
Commend the man for infusing Chelsea with a bit of youth, the club’s players were beginning to look like what the club is synonymous with. Pensioners.
But one can’t help but wonder if Ancelotti’s youth movement couldn’t have been implemented at touch slower rate and retaining some of that experience allowed to walk out the door for a combined £7 million. A bad bit of business, but will Chelsea pay the price?