Chelsea are off to their worst start to a season under new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“Chelsea’s appalling data reflects their poor start to the season,” The Athletic, a British publication, reported on Thursday (Aug. 25), adding that “the appalling numbers surrounding Chelsea at the moment speak for themselves.”
Chelsea were outnumbered and outplayed in their 2023/24 Premier League 6th round match against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London, England on April 24, losing 0-1.
After a 0-0 first half, Chelsea were reduced to 10 men in the 17th minute of the second half when defender Marlo Guisto was sent off for a direct challenge. Guisto made a dangerous tackle on Villa defender Luca Digne’s ankle, and the referee immediately produced a yellow card.
However, the video assistant referee (VAR) was on hand and, at the request of the VAR room, the referee moved off the touchline to review the footage of Guisto’s tackle. After reviewing the footage, the referee decided that it was not a foul that should have resulted in a caution, canceled the yellow card, pulled out the red card, and sent Guisto off.
Outnumbered and outplayed, Chelsea ultimately conceded a late 27th minute goal to striker Ola Watkins on the counter-attack, dropping the three points at home to Villa in a 0-1 defeat.
With the win away from home, Villa jumped to sixth place in the league (W4 D2 L12), while Chelsea remained in 14th place with just five points (W1 D2 L3) from six games.
Since the start of the season, Chelsea has already lost three of their six league games. Chelsea’s only league win of the season was a 3-0 victory over promoted Luton Town in the third round, and they have since drawn one and lost two of their last three league games, including a loss to Villa.
Last season was Chelsea’s worst ever, as they finished 12th in the league, missing out on European qualification and finishing outside the top 10.
In the 2022/23 season, Chelsea made two managerial changes, starting with the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, in an attempt to turn things around, but both failed. 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 repeat the tragedy, Chelsea overhauled its squad and coaching staff ahead of the new season. First, they handed the reins to Mauricio Pochettino, who has extensive Premier League experience.
Pochettino has proven his leadership skills in the past with successful stints at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur. In the 2018/19 season, Pochettino shocked everyone by leading Spurs to the UEFA Champions League final for the first time in the club’s history. Pochettino began managing Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in January 2021, before taking a year off ahead of the 2022/23 season when he was sacked in July last year and returned to the Chelsea sidelines.
Since Pochettino’s appointment, the Blues have spent an astronomical amount of money on the transfer market. According to Sky Sports, the Blues have spent a whopping £419 million on 12 new signings this summer. They even set a new Premier League transfer record when they spent £115 million to sign Ecuadorian midfielder 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. They then recorded their first win of the season with a 3-0 victory in the third round of the league against Luton Town, who were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.
However, Chelsea failed to capitalize on the momentum following the win. A 0-1 loss to Nottingham Forest in Round 4, a 0-0 draw at Bournemouth in Round 5, and a 0-1 defeat at Villa in Round 6 have left the Blues with no chance of breaking into the top half of the table.
“Terrible” is how The Athletic described Chelsea’s current situation. After the Villa game, the publication pointed out that “Chelsea have failed to score a goal in 13 Premier League games since entering 2023, more than any other team.”
“For the first time since the 2000/01 season, Pochettino’s Chelsea have won just one game in their opening six Premier League matches, and it’s also the first time they’ve lost three in their opening six games.”
Of course, Pochettino has his own excuses for the current situation. The Blues’ first-team squad is currently sidelined with more than a dozen injuries at the start of the 2023/24 season, meaning Pochettino hasn’t had access to his best 11 since the start of the campaign.
Currently, a number of first-team players have been sidelined with injuries, both major and minor, including Leicester’s Leigh James, Wesley Fofana, Trevor Chalobah, and Christopher Nkunku. Most recently, 2004 Belgian midfielder Romeo Rabia, who joined the club for £58 million this summer, suffered an ankle injury and faces a possible long-term absence with a muscle tear in his ankle joint.
The loss of Nkunkwo, in particular, was devastating for Chelsea. The 1997-born French striker scored 16 Bundesliga goals for RB Leipzig last season, tying for the league’s top scorer with Werder Bremen’s Niklas Fühlkrug (Borussia Dortmund).
After winning the Bundesliga’s top scorer title, Nkunku made his Premier League debut in June when he joined Chelsea in a €66 million deal. Nkunkwo arrived at Chelsea with a lot of expectations, and his performances in pre-season friendlies have kept fans excited ahead of the season 스포츠토토.
Nkunkwo played in all five of Chelsea’s pre-season friendlies, scoring a total of three goals. With a sharp eye for goal in the friendlies, Chelsea fans were eager to see what he would do in the official games.
However, Nkunkwo suffered a knee injury against Dortmund in the final friendly before the start of the season. Nkunku, who started the friendly against Dortmund in August in Chicago, USA, went down on the field in the 19th minute of the first half with a strained left knee.
Ntunkwo, who was immediately substituted, was taken to the hospital for further examination. Fans and the club hoped it wasn’t a serious injury, but unfortunately, Nkunkwo went under the knife with a damaged meniscus in his left knee and will be out of action for up to four months.
With Nkunkwo, who was expected to be the mainstay of the team, out for an extended period of time, Chelsea got off to a slow start to the season as their goal-scoring problems eventually became apparent. Excluding the three goals against Luton Town, Chelsea have scored just two goals in their opening five league games.
“The players have to show their performance on the pitch, so we have to try to give them all the support they need to boost their confidence,” Pochettino said after the game, as the goal drought continues.
“The performance is good, not great, but good, and we are missing goals,” he said, adding, “I will now start again tomorrow to prepare for the next game and hopefully we can score in the next game.”
Chelsea will next face Brighton & Hove Albion in the third round of the 2023/24 English Football League (EFL) Cup on April 28 at 3:45pm. It will be interesting to see if the Blues can find the confidence and finishing touch they need to bounce back.
After Brighton, the Blues will face a pair of relatively easy games against Fulham on October 3 and Burnley on October 7.