It’s not going well for Chelsea at the moment. Manager Antonio Conte has already admitted that the nine-point gap to Manchester City in the Premier League will be extremely difficult to overcome while emphasizing the need for Chelsea supporters “to have patience, to understand we are trying to build something important for the future.”
The present got a whole lot worse on Tuesday following a humbling 3-0 defeat to Roma in the Champions League, Chelsea’s heaviest European defeat since 2012. Chelsea are still firm favorites to advance to the Round of 16 given the even greater crisis afflicting Atletico Madrid, but the Blues’ sudden defensive frailties have wiped the sheen from the defending English champions.
Many are blaming the club’s decision to sell Nemanja Matic to Manchester United for the current malaise, but the play of the entire back line and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has dipped dramatically this season.
“If we knew the problem, obviously we would change it,” said Conte after the Roma match. “This season we are conceding much more chances against us than last year and we have to try to get that extra step in or get that extra 10 percent and get to 100 percent, not 90 percent that maybe we are at in a lot of games when you go a bit less. We need to start again to have the balance like last year and try first to defend well and then try to play and score goals.”
Against Roma, Chelsea created chances without being able to finish, but they also certainly gave Roma plenty of joy going forward.
xG map for Roma - Chelsea. El Shaarawy made Chelsea pay for their mistakes, no one on Chelsea could do the same to Roma. pic.twitter.com/ixp28fqp9e— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) November 1, 2017
Here’s a clear example of the kind of chances Chelsea are giving up this season. Roma somehow managed to miss this one, but the defending is shambolic.
If you want a concrete example of Chelsea just being 10 percent off the pace, like Conte says, here’s Pedro being left for dead by 31-year-old left-back Aleksandar Kolarov.
Chelsea with some of the worst defending ever seen. pic.twitter.com/yX6drrxjYA— James Nalton (@JDNalton) October 31, 2017
All eyes will be on Chelsea again this weekend in the Premier League’s marquee matchup: Manchester United travel to Stamford Bridge with anything but a win for Chelsea making their title defense that much more unlikely.