Chelsea’s defence of their Premier League crown barely got off to a flyer as they were held to a 2-2 all draw against an impressive Swansea side. After limited activity in the transfer market, the Blues do not look to have kicked on this year, as they battle for silverware across four fronts.
Any team winning the Premier League in such a straightforward manner, as Jose Mourinho’s side did last year, does not exactly require wholesale changes. Though, towards the end of their victory match, the West London side infamously ‘parked the bus’. Now, Mourinho may struggle to move the bus at all.
Apparently frustrated in the transfer market, the Portuguese former Real Madrid boss is struggling to take his side up a gear. A league and cup double last year returned the ‘Special One’ to the forefront of English football, though disappointing exits to Bradford and Paris Saint-Germain in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively marred an otherwise stellar season.
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Whether Chelsea’s understated approach to the transfer market this year pays off or not is yet to be seen, but the stalemate against the Swans certainly raised interesting concerns. The 2012 Champions League winners struggle to cope against the Welsh side, twice letting their lead slip.
As last season drew to a close, the air of invincibility surrounding Stamford Bridge began to clear, and Mourinho’s men were seen to be not as strong as we thought. The dearth in quality outside the first choice XI came into play, and little has been done to address it this year.
The signings of Radamel Falcao, Asmir Begovic and the impending Baha Rahman (presumably their second choice left-back) are unlikely to have too much of an impact on their immediate fortunes.
In fact, Kurt Zouma was the only recognised defender in Saturday’s squad, outside of the back four, on the field of play. Even if the reported £30m deal for John Stones comes off, how likely is he to fix Chelsea’s problems?
Manchester City looked rampant in their 3-0 dismissal of West Brom at the Hawthorns on Monday night, no easy feat against a Tony Pulis side. Chelsea square off against the Etihad club next week, with largely the same eleven deployed against them at a similar stage last year.
It was City, who last year stood still after their Premier League win, and we saw the results. Near enough every team up and down the league this year have strengthened their sides, while Chelsea have failed to find another gear.
Eden Hazard can only do so much, and during Saturday’s opener, looked bereft of ideas. Where the likes of Jefferson Montero tore apart the usually unflappable Branislav Ivanovic, the 2014/15 PFA Player of the Year struggled.
With only a game gone it seems silly to make too many judgements. However, Manuel Pellegrini’s side look to have hit their stride this year, with David Silva running the show, and Yaya Toure looking like he’s returned to form.
The Chelsea we have grown accustomed to would inevitably have found a way to grind out a win on Saturday. Take nothing away from Swansea, who were excellent – but a Mourinho win would have been just, well, so Mourinho.
Perhaps the Portuguese has parked the bus for so long, he has forgotten how to move it.