Waving The White Flag: Chelsea Plumb New Depths

Are you not entertained? Of course you’re not. What Chelsea supporter could sit through 90 minutes of that and not want to throw himself or herself in front of a bicycle? In one of the worst performances in living memory, Chelsea succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City and in the process, sucked the joy out of yet another Sunday.

Without further ado, let’s do what we usually do and recap some of the more interesting things that we noticed.

#1 Kante My Eyes Off You

Chelsea suffered the biggest blow before the game even began. Chelsea’s only world-class midfielder, N’Golo Kante, was ruled out of the game due to the Dodgy Lasagna Syndrome made famous by Spurs teams of yesteryear. Without Kante it was Drinkwater and Fabregas who started in midfield. Eden Hazard reprised his lead role in Conte’s upcoming ‘My Experiments With The False 9’ tactics handbook. The defence featured the three best defenders at Chelsea, namely Azpilicueta, Christensen and Rudiger. The entire team then proceeded to play the first half by putting in one of the most timid, boring and spineless performances I’ve ever seen. If you thought it couldn’t get any worse, you had another thing coming.

#2 Shameful Plug

This game reminded me of a story I heard when I was a child, about a boy in the Netherlands who stopped water from flooding his village by putting his finger in the dike. Throughout 90 minutes, all Chelsea players did was run around plugging holes all over the pitch, trying to stop the free-flowing City attacks. They succeeded for the first 45 minutes, although it required Azpilicueta to clear the ball off the line from a Sane shot. The young German had a fantastic game, fuelled by some of the magic dust Guardiola siphoned off of Messi when he left Barcelona. But then, Chelsea fell behind almost as soon as the second half started when the Silva with hair scored in the 46th minute. Yet again, it was young Andreas Christensen’s mistake that unlocked the door for City and Alonso seemed to be as surprised as the rest of us to see the door swing open. After that, Chelsea could have kept playing for another 90 minutes and they’d still have no shots on City’s goal. Painfully embarrassing.

#3 Feeble Forwards

Let’s be honest here. Yes, Eden Hazard was not playing in his preferred role. Yes, he was isolated. But that does not exempt him from being tarred with the same brush as the rest of them who showed no aggression, no spine and no awareness. Somehow none of them seemed to be up for it, which only made it more humiliating to watch. For a player who aspires to be a rival to Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo, he goes missing too often in games when the tide is against him. Great players thrive under pressure, they feed off adversity. Hazard may be the most talented player at Chelsea, but he is still as far away from being counted amongst the elite as he was when he came to Chelsea all those years ago. The less said about Pedro, the better. I lost count of the number of times he surrendered possession by playing a stupid pass.

#4 Substitute Ineptitude

How’s this for a doozy? Emerson did not touch the ball in his ten minutes on the pitch. Giroud and Morata might as well have stayed home. We had two strikers available and we started with a false 9. When the forwards did come on, they did nothing to affect the game. Michy didn’t die for this.

#5 What Now?

Oh, Antonio. We want to love you. You know we do. But games like this simply don’t help your cause in any way. After the game, Conte insisted he’d rather go home with a black eye after a bout with City, than have a broken nose, missing teeth and only his bare hands covering his dignity. I suppose he was referring to the double 3-0 losses Arsenal suffered at the hands of the same opponent, but you can never tell with him. Chelsea now look set to miss out on the top four unless they can conjure something magical against the two teams above them – Liverpool and Spurs – when they play later in the season.

Until then, let’s hope Roy Hodgson doesn’t nick yet another point or three from Conte’s Charitable Chumpions. It’s the hope that kills you.