Is it just the bumps and bruises of building a great team?
Despite the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea has slipped to 11th place in the league at the start of the season.
The Blues lost their 2023/24 Premier League fourth-round matchup against Nottingham Forest 0-1 on Sunday (Sept. 2) at Stamford Bridge in London, England, despite dominating possession.
Anthony Elanga opened the scoring in the second minute of the second half after receiving a penetrating pass from Tiwane Awoniyi and, with defenders on either side of him, calmly fired a shot that rattled the Chelsea net with the keeper in front of him.
It was Elanga’s first goal of the season since joining Nottingham from Manchester United and his debut for Nottingham.
After conceding the lead to Nottingham, Chelsea controlled the game for the remainder of the match and kept knocking on the door, but struggled to find the back of the net and lost to Nottingham despite being at home. Despite having 87% of the possession in the second half and outshooting them 10-4, they couldn’t find the back of the net.
As a result, Chelsea dropped to 11th place in the league with four points (W1 D1 L2). Nottingham, on the other hand, moved to 6 points (2 wins, 2 losses) and overtook Chelsea for 9th place.
While it’s still early in the season and there are 34 games remaining, Chelsea fans can’t help but be concerned with their club’s current standing. Last season, Chelsea had their worst year ever, finishing 12th in the league, missing out on qualifying for Europe and finishing outside the top 10.
In the 2022/23 season, Chelsea tried to turn things around by changing managers twice, starting with the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. Graham Potter, who had led Brighton to success, was brought in ambitiously, but he was sacked after failing to fulfill his contract due to poor results, and club legend Frank Lampard, who was brought in as a fireman, failed to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Unwilling to make a repeat performance, Chelsea has revamped its squad and coaching staff ahead of the new season. They handed the reins over to Mauricio Pochettino, who has plenty of Premier League experience, having previously done well at Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton.
Pochettino has since strengthened the squad with a whopping 12 signings in the summer 2023 transfer window. According to British outlet Sky Sports, Chelsea’s total transfer budget for this summer’s signings is a whopping £419 million. They even set a new Premier League transfer record when they spent £115 million to sign Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo.
The problem is, despite all the spending, Pochettino’s early season results have been less than stellar. After drawing 1-1 with Liverpool in the opening round of the 2023/24 Premier League season, Chelsea lost 1-3 at West Ham United in the second round.
After registering their first win of the season with a 3-0 victory over Luton Town, who were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history, in the third round of the league, Chelsea lost 0-1 at Nottingham in the fourth round of the league, ending their winning streak.
It’s a long season and losses can happen at any time, but Chelsea’s goal is to finish in the top four of the league in order to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. As such, the failure to pick up a point against a relatively inferior opponent has already caused some to question Pochettino’s leadership.
Former Arsenal striker Paul Merson told Sky Sports that Chelsea were too slow and mediocre: “They weren’t under constant pressure, they weren’t stifling the opposition, they didn’t look like they were going to score. It’s been like that for years now,” he said.
In response to the growing criticism, Pochettino told Sky Sports after the game that “we are building something, there are always ups and downs,” and that it is a process of building a team.
“I think we deserved more today than the 1-3 defeat at West Ham, but we were unlucky,” he said. “I’ve said it before, it’s just a matter of time,” he added.
“In the process of building a team, when you need to be more relaxed and calm, you can make hasty decisions or rush to take chances,” he continued. “These things can happen at any time, so we have to stay calm and work hard to improve the team. I think these kinds of things will make us better.”
After a poor start to the 2023/24 campaign, Chelsea and Pochettino will now have time to regroup and review their squad and tactics before the A-League break in September after the Nottingham game. Chelsea’s first game after the A-match break is on September 17 when they travel to AFC Bournemouth in the fifth round of the 2024/24 Premier League season. 온라인바카라
Bournemouth currently sits in 16th place in the league, below Chelsea, with just two points from four league games (two draws). It’s still early in the season, so the gap between the top teams isn’t huge, so three points against Bournemouth could be the start of a rebound.
After a difficult start to the season, it will be interesting to see if Chelsea can bounce back sooner rather than later and prove that the results against West Ham and Nottingham were just a learning curve, as Pochettino claims.