Chelsea may have lost to Manchester City at the weekend, but it’s easy to forget that this is a team with a rookie manager and a young set of players, who are firmly in the top four when the top half might have been a solid result for them.
“They’re miles ahead of where we expected,” said Michael Cox on the latest edition of the Totally Football Show. “It’s funny: we’ve almost become accepting that this top four will be there at the end of the season, but I certainly didn’t expect Leicester and Chelsea to be nearly ten points clear of the other realistic contenders for the top four.”
Nevertheless, there are some areas of weakness that Frank Lampard will be looking to fix. For example, Daniel Storey picked out a significant split in their performances against the better teams against those lower down.
“Chelsea have won all six games against teams in the bottom half and only two of the seven against the bottom half – and those two were against Wolves when they were in no form and Burnley when they were in no form.
“I think they looked a bit naive at the start of the season. They got caught on the counter-attack by Sheffield United, Manchester United, Leicester – just pushing on too far like they were thinking ‘we want to push on, we want to press, we want to score goals.’ It doesn’t apply as much to Saturday’s game, but they do tend to overcommit and get caught.
“Maybe having Kante fit all season might’ve helped: they’re slightly naive, but we are talking about a team in the early months of a new manager.”
Sasha Guryunov concurred: “Chelsea are a young team and a work in progress. I think they just got rattled by those two goals [against Manchester City] which weren’t particularly logical. They had loads of possession after they opened the scoring, and then the De Bruyne goal comes out of nowhere really. I think they were dwelling on it, when Mahrez cut inside [and scored]. At that point, I think they lost their shape and concentration.”
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