Following a catastrophic performance away at Spurs, Chelsea’s unbeaten run is over and the feel-good factor at the club may have disappeared. Results have been mixed so far for the Blues but being consistent and not losing have kept them up with the top dogs.
Questions have remained over their selection and Sarri now faces his first serious challenge in charge. This a point at which Chelsea have failed under previous managers but yet also succeeded. Antonio Conte lost twice consecutively and changed his system to take Chelsea to thirteen wins in a row.
Spurs Highlight Chelsea’s Flaws in Big Victory
Sarri seems to have settled on his system and no such change is expected following his first defeat in all competitions, but the Italians problems may mount. He can’t allow them to pile up too much or too quickly either.
At a club like Chelsea, with their history for instability, this winter schedule could be vital. On Saturday night Spurs highlight Chelsea’s flaws but it is Sarri that has to put them right if he is to succeed.
Chelsea are in no circumstances experiencing a crisis, however, the many questions and uncertainties that have been bouncing around the football world have now been brought into the spotlight.
Sarri and his side have stopped the early onslaught of media pressure which was the downfall of both Conte and Mourinho before him. Having done this he has allowed his team to settle and get into a groove.
Now this groove has a bumpy edge to it and the road ahead looks more treacherous than before.
Is it the yellow ball? The cold, rainy and dark matches? The bright floodlights or even the Christmas spirit? Whatever it is Chelsea have a problem with winter. They often stumble and fall in league matches 13-22 with nowhere near the same fluidity that has been seen before. One game can change a whole season and this might have been it.
It may seem like the same story again. Partly because it is. But Chelsea are going into the festive period with question marks on their role in the Premier League this season.
Will they prevail as title contenders, solid top four contenders or struggle to compete with the top six, let alone the top two. It is a sticky situation Sarri finds himself in and it is one that he would have been desperate to avoid. Especially after a defeat to such bitter rivals Spurs.
Rather than it being Chelsea who headline BBC Sport’s article on the ‘three horse race’ it is Spurs. Going quietly and sometimes unconvincingly about their work, the north Londoners are back on track.
Chelsea will feel they have missed the trick in recent weeks and have let a real chance of picking up momentum slip away. Failing to capitalise against Everton and showing no sign of a backbone at Wembley. Are they the real deal at all?
There is a lot to prove now for Chelsea. None less than do they have the capacity to sustain a 38 game league season plus competing on three other fronts. Ten games in and all was going smoothly but there is nothing like the sight of your own breath in front of your face on a chilly Saturday evening to knock the fight out of players.
Sarri Faces Questions
Though he is a smart and meticulous planner, Sarri will have been praying that Chelsea didn’t lose to Tottenham. For many reasons, to remain unbeaten, to keep up with Liverpool and City, to not fall behind Tottenham, to increase their distance from Arsenal and to continue a good start in London derbies.
His record so far in big matches is mixed after beating Arsenal, Chelsea failed to convert a winning position against Liverpool into three points and have dropped points against fellow Londoners West Ham.
Chelsea are a team in transition yes. Much like Arsenal, they want sustainability and a seamless movement from manager to manager. They haven’t had time for philosophies to fully embed into the team; evidently, the opinion of Sarri after his post-match interview was gruelling in his judgement of his teams pressing.
Consistently stating they need months more to realise their full potential. But following a week of celebration as N’Golo Kante signed his long-term intentions to the club, it was a game that has reconverted fans optimism into pessimism.
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