Well, that was sodding dreadful. A Chelsea side bereft of attacking potency huffed and puffed and lost by a solitary goal to David Moyes’ resurgent West Ham. The defeat left Chelsea with a mountain to climb in the defence of their title, with most people of the opinion that the Blues failed to get off the base camp on the right foot.
Here are some of the talking points from a depressing day in London.
#1 Optional Extras
Chelsea started the game with a midfield of Bakayoko, Kante and Fabregas, since Drinkwater was unavailable due to illness. This is a midfield combination which is the strongest available to Conte. But only on paper; actual performances don’t reflect this at all. Many have bemoaned the fact that Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out on loan and Chalobah is at Watford, when they could have been good options to have in the middle of the park. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it is a valid point, nonetheless. Bakayoko still doesn’t seem comfortable in his role and in the team, while Drinkwater has spent more time on the sidelines than on the pitch. This is where having an extra midfield option would have been useful. I’m even willing to bet that one of Baker, Pasalic or Van Ginkel could have done a job while the new signings bedded in.
#2 Bakayoko Bombs
This is the second time in a week that I’m writing about this and for good reason. The reason being, Bakayoko is still blowing hot and cold, producing the kind of performances that warrant yanking him off at halftime in a London derby. It’s the promise of potential that really grinds my gears here. If he were a mediocre player who didn’t cost a fortune, perhaps people would have been kinder to him. Sweat and grit can win you a lot of admirers in the Premier League, after all. But he’s been brought in to do a job here and now, and the longer his adaptation takes, the more it affects Chelsea’s chances of winning games. It’s not his fault that he’s been played whenever he is even remotely close to full fitness; there’s just no other player of a comparable stature to take his place.
#3 Haste Makes Waste
Here’s a wonderful stat from the game – Chelsea had 17 shots on goal, but only 2 shots on target, producing a grand total of zero goals. This, despite having 69% of possession and a succession of opportunities that went begging. Morata had a few good chances to get on the scoresheet, but he snatched at them instead of keeping his composure. Others weren’t better, with Hazard not at the races either. There were rumours about Morata being under the weather before the game, and it showed. Batshuayi was not a viable option from the start as he’d played for the development squad in midweek. With the number of chances we created, we really should have done better.
#4 Little Piggy Went To Market
There was a lot of news about Conte not being satisfied with how Chelsea’s summer business had left his squad too small and imbalanced. And he was right to be pissed about it. Again, the lack of foresight and squad planning is astounding. We have just two senior strikers, one of whom is playing as the main man for the first time in his career, and the other is a player who simply does not have the manager’s full trust. There is no wingback cover on the left, with Zappacosta being used on his wrong side just so Alonso can catch his breath. The less said about the midfield, the better. The upcoming January transfer window might be the most important one in a long time.
#5 Knocked Out
The result and Manchester City’s subsequent win over their neighbours effectively ended Chelsea’s hopes of retaining the title. It would take a monumental, career-ruining collapse from Pep Guardiola’s side to give any other team the chance to catch up with them now.
The Blues now travel to Huddersfield, hoping to avoid getting their pants pulled down by another bottom-half team.