Seven games into the 2023/2024 Premier League season and Chelsea has managed to pick up only two wins and two draws.
The club has dominated its games in terms of possession and has oftentimes looked like the stronger team. However, Chelsea’s main problem is what it was last season: goal-scoring is lacking. In September, they scored just once, and it did not even happen in the Premier League. It was in an EFL Cup game against Brighton, which Chelsea won 1-0.
In their Premier League campaign this season, prior to their win against Fulham last night, they were averaging 0.83 goals per match and had 15 big chances created, 28 shots on target, but only five goals. Three of those goals came from their game against Luton.
Chelsea faces Burnley next, on the 7 October, and will be hoping to collect maximum points at Turf Moor. After Burnley will be the international break before we return to the Premier League later this month when the Blues will have a tough lineup of matches up till December.
Safety from the relegation zone
Currently, Chelsea is closer to the relegation zone (by five points) than they are to the top six (by seven points). Failure to secure three points against Burnley could very well put Chelsea closer to the relegation zone.
The last time Chelsea faced a newly promoted side, they won. That was in their 3-0 win against Luton. Just like Luton, Burnley is still trying to adjust to the Premier League, and Chelsea will be hoping to take advantage of this and replicate what they did against Luton.
A vote of confidence
A relegation battle is exactly what Chelsea need to avoid before their next round of Premier League fixtures:
Chelsea vs Arsenal – 21st October
Chelsea vs Brentford – 28th October
Tottenham vs Chelsea – 6th November
Chelsea vs Manchester City – 12th November
Newcastle United vs Chelsea – 25th November
Chelsea vs Brighton – 2nd December
Manchester United vs Chelsea – 6th December
These will be tough games for Chelsea. If Chelsea does not win against Burnley, they will be going into this next set of games short of confidence. Confidence, however, will be key for Pochettino’s side, as it could help them collect a handful of points by the end of this run of difficult games.
Chelsea are no stranger to what a lack of confidence can do to their season. For a large part of their 2022/23 campaign, Chelsea’s play was often full of doubt and uncertainty, which many times reflected in their results. The confidence boost at the start of their pre-season helped them see out that campaign successfully, but wasted opportunities at the start of the 2023/24 Premier League season seemed to take away that confidence and it has since reflected in their following games.
After their recent win against Brighton in the EFL Cup, Chelsea grew into the game in the second half and looked like the stronger side against Brighton and were able to convert two opportunities into a goal, with one being ruled offside. Cole Palmer was an important asset to his new team, slotting almost perfectly into the number 10 position behind Jackson, ultimately giving an assist to Jackson.
Over the years, Chelsea has had the upper hand over Fulham on most occasions. That was not the case last season, however, as Fulham took four points against the Blues with one win and one draw. The last meeting between the teams was a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in February when Enzo Fernandez made his debut in blue.
This time around, Chelsea was able to return things to what they once were. For the first time this season, they had less possession, but were able to pick up a win. Mykhalio Mudryk scored his first goal for Chelsea, with Levi Colwill’s through ball making the assist. Broja made his first start since coming back from injury and made his mark with a goal following a mistake from Fulham’s goalkeeper and defence.
Two wins in a row is good news for Chelsea, and the team would do well to carry on that momentum into Burnley. A boost in confidence after the Brighton game was reflected in yesterday’s win against Fulham. And if the same is reflected at Turf Moor, Chelsea will enter the difficult period ahead with more certainty to their game – a necessity considering the teams they’ll be facing are far from easy to beat.
Injuries and suspensions
With Malo Gusto’s red card, he will be serving his suspension for the next game. He will, however, be back in time for the Arsenal game. Jackson accumulated five yellow cards in the Premier League, earning him a one-match ban which he served during the Fulham game, making him available for Burnley instead.
Gusto and Jackson’s suspensions, paired with Chelsea’s growing injury list, only add to the difficulty levels for Pochettino. With Gusto being away for the club’s game against Brighton, Marc Cucurella played at right back. Despite playing in an unnatural position for him, he had a good game and saw himself in the same situation again for the Fulham game.
The club is yet to disclose the diagnosis on Ben Chilwell who looked to have sustained an injury during the additional minutes at the end of the Brighton match. The vice-captain is injury-prone, and here is what Pochettino said about his most recent injury;
“It’s bad news – the doctor told me it’s not good thing”
“It doesn’t look good, we’re really sad”
In a club statement released ahead of the Fulham game, it was stated that Chilwell was “undergoing assessment” although there is speculation that he underwent surgery. Fabrizio Romano has reported that the left back is expected to miss the next 2 months due to a hamstring injury.
Captain Reece James is another injury-prone player, but there are some positives surrounding him right now. Pochettino mentioned that the right back might be available for the Burnley or Arsenal game. The Argentinian also mentioned that Noni Madueke and Carney Chukwuemeka might both be available for the Fulham game, but only one appeared in the line-up as a substitute. Madueke made an appearance in the final minute of extra time last night after Moises Caicedo came off due to a suspected injury scare which is said to be just a contusion, “nothing serious”, the club hopes.
Caicedo is not the only player who came off last night for similar reasons. Goal scorers Mudryk and Broja were both taken off in a similar light. As for Mudryk, it is said that he sustained a slight injury to the top of his thigh but the club don’t think it’s too serious. Broja on the other hand was taken off as a precaution, in the striker’s own words.
“No injury – just a precaution. I’ve been out for a while so it was always hard for me to come back and play the full 90 minutes.
“I did get a bit leggy just before i came off, so it was just a precaution.”
Chelsea will be hoping to have all three fit in time for the Arsenal fixture, as strength in numbers is needed at this club that has already sustained enough injury at the start of this season.