Where is Chelsea really?

Chelsea will face Manchester United on Thursday in a costly Premier League clash. Nearly two years after Todd Boehly’s acquisition, where are the Blues?

Bordeaux and Saint-Étienne were relegated, Lyon settled into the weakest part, AC Milan experienced a period of scarcity and Barça almost collapsed due to debt. As we have seen, in Europe no major club is safe from demotion. Chelsea, one of the faces of English and international football after its acquisition in 2003 by Roman Abramovich, is a new example. Huge investments since Todd Boehly took office (June 2022) are struggling to translate into results.

Let’s say it right away: this season not everything is a shot in the arm for Chelsea. The ‘bleus’ only failed in extra time of the League Cup final against Liverpool on February 25 (0-1). They continue in the fight for the FA Cup, where they will face Manchester City in the semi-finals (April 20). They are not far from winning a trophy, the first since the Club World Cup in February 2022. A period so close and so far away, crowned with an unexpected Champions League (2021), ended with the unceremonious dismissal of Thomas Tuchel. .

Lack of realism in attack and defense

Where the problem is is in the championship. Chelsea are 12th in the Premier League. By winning their last game against Manchester United, they would get closer to five points out of 6.my position, qualified for the Europa Conference League play-offs. It is not enough to surprise, but it would be a return to the continental scene. Beyond the results, the London team showed strong inconsistency in the game.

Attacking midfielder Cole Palmer, a 21-year-old New England international, is one of the joys of Chelsea’s season.
GLYN KIRK / AFP

The statistics used by coach Mauricio Pochettino illustrate this. Chelsea has 4my team to the number of expected goals per game. He scored 48 goals and “should” have scored 54, a sub-performance of -6. In comparison, Arsenal, 2my in the ranking, it surpasses with +9.7. Same failure in defense: 42 expected goals conceded, 47 goals conceded. “The fans don’t realize it, the players are very young”Pochettino justified, slipping that some may not have slept before the final against Liverpool at Wembley.

In March, Pochettino wanted to be offensive in the face of criticism. “unfair” according to him. “People don’t want to listen, said the former PSG coach. I tried to explain to you, I speak, I move my mouth, but you don’t listen to me. Today is a different Chelsea. of which he has long piled up the titles. The Argentine tells the truth. He finds it difficult to accept the impatience linked to investments: more than one billion euros in player transfers since Boehly, a 50-year-old American businessman, bought the club.

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Until you have people you trust, i.e. experienced players, you won’t be able to build anything.

Frank Leboeuf, former French international and Chelsea defender between 1996 and 2001.

Are Chelsea really moving forward? Pochettino swears yes. The two draws against Manchester City this season, including one that Chelsea almost won, are arguments. The draw against a diminished Brentford on March 2 (2-2) and that against Burnley, reduced to ten before half-time on March 30 (2-2), suggest otherwise.

“As long as you don’t have people to trust, that is, experienced players, you can’t build anything”criticized former Londoner Frank Leboeuf ESPN. Frank Lampard, top scorer in the club’s history, defended Pochettino in the podcast JOSÉ in Youtube. “We knew it would be complicated, there are young players looking for their place”declared the man who came to the aid of his favorite club on the bench at the beginning of 2023, after a mediocre first stage (2019-21).

Will the Blues review their strategy in the transfer market to take a step forward? One of the latest rumors concerns Leny Yoro, an 18-year-old Lille defender. “We just have to let the process play out and give ourselves time to go from being incredible individual players to being a team.”Boehly recently estimated.

A victory against Manchester United this Thursday (9:15 p.m.) would leave Chelsea practically two points behind the Red Devils and this famous top 6. And it would make us forget the whistles that were heard in February at Stamford Bridge. “Maybe if I were a fan and I was in the stands I would behave the same as them because it is Chelsea and we are not living up to expectations”, Pochettino then declared. There are just over two months left to answer them.


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