Chelsea lost 0-2 to Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday. While it is no shame to lose to a side of Real Madrid’s pedigree, losses seem to have become a norm for the Blues this season.
They are 11th in the Premier League table at the moment and may end up not playing in Europe next season.
Their decision to reinstate Frank Lampard as their caretaker manager, whom they had sacked in 2021, raised a lot of eyebrows. Since 2021, Chelsea have sacked two managers, one of them being their Champions League winning manager Thomas Tuchel and the other being Graham Potter. The London based club has spent millions in the transfer market but positive results have mostly eluded them thus far.
So, what has gone wrong for Chelsea this season?
Injuries to a few key players
Chelsea have not been able to replace N’Golo Kante’s production, who has been injured for a quite a while now, in their midfield. They have lacked a potent ball-carrier down the middle and the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have not quite been able to exert their influence.
Enzo Fernandez was signed for an enormous figure and he has impressed with his distribution. But he is not a player who can repeatedly make forays into the opposition’s penalty box. Hence, Chelsea have suffered in that respect.
To compound their misery, center-back Thiago Silva also missed a few matches due to injury. The 38-year-old has arguably been the most consistent player for the Blues during the last few seasons and his absence has rendered his team even more helpless. Kalidou Koulibaly has not been able to provide the sense of security that he was expected to since joining.
Both Silva and Kante made a return to action against Real, but the rustiness was there for all to see.
Even full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell have been below-par with their performances since their return from injury. Chilwell was sent off against Real Madrid to add to his team’s woes.
Dearth of goal-scorers
Chelsea have also often lacked teeth in their attack this season. Kai Havertz is their top goal-scorer with just seven goals. Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount follow with four and three, respectively. Even more heartening is that players like Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech have lost their places in the starting line-up.
However, the apparent failure of their new signings has again hurt the club. Joao Felix and Mykhailo Mudryk have a mere two goals between them after more than a couple of months at Chelsea. Felix has lacked in the physical aspect and has struggled to cope with the demands of the Premier League.
Mudryk has impressed with his pace, but his efforts have not been enough to save Chelsea’s face, either. Moreover, the club’s failure to hone youngsters like Mount to become better players has also been telling. If one compares the performance of Mount with that of the likes of Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka, both of whom his contemporaries, one starts to get the true picture.
The task in front of Frank Lampard is a challenging one and it remains to be seen whether or not he can even begin to approach the kind of success he enjoyed with Chelsea as a player in his second tenure as a manger at the club.