Chelsea Chronicle Writers Review Chelsea's Season So Far

Since we last did one of these season reviews during the last international break in November, Chelsea’s season has suffered quite the decline. From sitting comfortably behind Manchester City, the Blues now sit five points outside the Champions League places and have seen Liverpool and Spurs overtaken them. Some players’ form has fallen by the wayside while Antonio Conte’s commitment and tactics have been questioned no end. Here is our season review so far under various categories…

Best Performer?

Billy Munday (Match Reporter): Eden Hazard and Willian have shone at certain parts of the season but N’Golo Kante has consistently put in world-class performances for the team.
Ryan Payne (News and Player Ratings): Cesar Azpilicueta. By far, the most consistent player we have. The likes of Hazard and Willian have their moments, but it’s Dave who rarely has a bad game and is always dependable.
Matt Owen (Columnist): Well, out of an underperforming bunch I would have to plump for Willian, consistent performer and a hugely underrated player.
Abhishek Pancholi (Columnist): It has to be Cesar Azpilicueta. In the middle of the season, there were a couple of games where Dave’s performances dropped below his usual stellar standards, but that was just a blip. He came back stronger and I dread to think where we would be as a defensive unit without him.

Worst Performer?

Billy: It can only be one man – Tiemoue Bakayoko. The Frenchman has looked more like a competition winner than a £40m arrival from the Ligue 1 champions.
Ryan: Tiemoue Bakayoko. Signed for a lot of money in the summer, and hasn’t shown anything to suggest why the club paid so much. Perhaps selling Matic was a season too early.
Matt: Not going to single anyone out as football is a team game but the decisions to sell Chalobah and Matic will haunt the club for the next few transfer windows.
Abhishek: For large parts of this season, I was in favour of giving more time to Bakayoko to get used to a new league and new teammates. But when we’re looking for the worst performer, it really is difficult to look beyond the young Frenchman. Thrust into the limelight in times of a midfield crisis has left Bakayoko ragged and left us wondering what the fuss was all about.

Best Team Performance?

Billy: The first leg against Barcelona looked to have gone perfectly, as it always seems to do against the Catalan giants, before Andreas Christensen’s mistake let Messi and Barça back into the tie.
Ryan: Atletico away. To go away to a team like Atletico who are so good defensively, and come home with all three points was fantastic. Plus the late winner from Batshuayi.
Matt: Atletico Madrid away – a stunning performance that should have been a blueprint for the season.
Abhishek: It shows how disappointing this season has been that the best performance of the campaign is still the away game against Atletico Madrid. Those 90 minutes showed us a glimpse of what this team was capable of.

Worst Team Performance?

Billy: The crime against football at the Etihad where Antonio Conte’s bus managed just two shots and about 2% possession against Manchester City.
Ryan: City away. Obviously, there are the defeats to Bournemouth and Watford, but the defeat to City was just cowardly. Seemed like they were content with a 1-0 loss.
Matt: A tight call between Bournemouth at home or Watford away – going for Watford away, an awful night.
Abhishek: Watford away. How we conceded four goals to that lot is a question that still keeps me awake at nights when I’ve not had enough to drink. It was a stupendous capitulation, considering the same Watford team lost to one of the bottom-dwellers in their next game. Baffling.

Goal of the Season?

Billy: Willian’s thunderbolt at Brighton was set up by two backheels from the Belgians, Hazard and Batshuayi, before the Brazilian fired in from the edge of the area.
Ryan: Morata’s header vs United. The superb cross from Azpilicueta, the freedom of Morata, and just seeing De Gea rooted to the spot was great to see.
Matt: Willian – Brighton Away, stunning build-up play with a world-class finish.
Abhishek: Morata vs Stoke City – he ran almost half the length of the pitch with the ball, held off a couple of defenders and casually lifted the ball over the goalkeeper from a tight angle on his way towards his first Chelsea hat-trick.

Favourite Moment?

Billy: Michy Batshuayi’s stoppage-time winner away against Atletico Madrid was made even sweeter by the horror on Diego Costa’s face while he sat in the home end.
Ryan: Beating Tottenham at Wembley. It’s always great to beat them and Alonso’s two goals made it even better.
Matt: Being the first team to beat Spurs at Wembley was nice, the Conte/Mourinho spat will take some beating though!
Abhishek: Amidst the verbal jousting between Conte and Mourinho, Conte’s “In the past he was a little man in many circumstances, is a little man in the present and for sure he will be a little man in the future” line still makes me chuckle.

Prediction for the rest of the season?

Billy: If the Blues can manage home wins against Liverpool and Spurs, they might just creep back into the Top Four while winning the FA Cup would help salvage an underwhelming campaign and I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation.
Ryan: I’m hoping we can pip Tottenham to fourth spot, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think the best we can hope for is an FA Cup win.
Matt: Would be nice to think we can grab fourth and win the FA Cup, would be a real boost going into next season.
Abhishek: I predicted us to finish third and I stand by it. We still have to play Liverpool and Spurs, and with Champions League qualification at stake I back this Chelsea team to beat both of them. And there’s plenty of time left for Liverpool to slip up and for Spurs to revert to type.