Chelsea have had a very standard opening to this season. Whilst Mourinho’s starts are known to be fast and often ruthless, it has been very much a case of unpredictability as a fantastic October month was met with some shaky performances either side. Finally, however, Chelsea did not have a November-December collapse as Mourinho has steadied the ship, but it still remains to be seen whether this Chelsea side can be challenging on many fronts come May…
10 wins from 16 is no horrendous statistic, but a 62.5% win percentage will hardly make the Chelsea fans jumping for joy. Initial optimism with wins against Hull, Aston Villa and Fulham were tempered with draws to Manchester United and Tottenham, and worse still, a loss to Everton. Chelsea responded in October with convincing wins against Norwich and Cardiff and the highlight of the campaign thus far must be the last-gasp winner by Fernando Torres to down Manchester City.
The rejoice was short-lived, however, as Newcastle prevailed against a complacent side 2-0, whilst a fortunate 2-2 draw against West Brom continued to draw doubts in about Mourinho’s second coming.
Order was restored with a 3-0 win at West Ham, followed by a 3-1 against Southampton, but a barmy 4-3 win at Sunderland further amplified concerns over Chelsea’s defence. This was further compounded with a 3-2 loss to Stoke City, whilst Crystal Palace could only be beaten by 2-1.
Competition has been fierce also, as Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton continue to go strong. A more convincing second half to the season is essential for a real Premier League threat. Saying that, a win tomorrow against Arsenal and Chelsea are second only to goal difference. This does not hide the fact Chelsea have been lacking in key performances, and scoring only 32 in 16 matches, whilst letting in 18, needs to be improved upon.
Chelsea’s Champions League exploits have been as shaky as their Premier League. A disaster of a start with a 2-1 loss at home to Basel was seen as the anomaly, especially as the next two matches — Steaua Bucharest away and Schalke away — were convincingly won 4-0 and 3-0 respectively. Schalke home proved as easy a task as in Germany with Chelsea emerging victorious by the same scoreline, but the Blues fell yet again against a tricky Basel side, defeated by 1-0. Order, and top spot, was restored with a very poor 1-0 victory at home against Steaua Bucharest, but Chelsea will look forward now to February encounters with Drogba and Galatasaray.
The UEFA Super Cup was Mourinho’s first chance of silverware back at Chelsea but a Javi Martinez equaliser put pay to that as Bayern Munich prevailed on penalties, despite a hugely courageous Blues performance.
Since that, it has been the League Cup Chelsea have had their eyes on. Mourinho holds a glorious record in this competition and a standard 2-0 victory at Swindon Town set up a tasty encounter against Arsenal. The Blues prevailed at The Emirates 2-0, but it was the end of the road at the next stage — the quarter-finals — as Sunderland defeated the Blues in extra-time. It was a match which typified Chelsea’s season: good start, got the goal but were not clinical enough to get the second, allowing Sunderland and Borini an equaliser with minutes to go in normal time, before further complacency settled in to give Sunderland a deserved victory.
The FA Cup competition commences in January and Chelsea first face a potentially tricky tie at Derby County.