Every weekend comes another blow and another disappointment, mixed with a decent result that breathes in new hope to Chelsea and their heavily criticized manager. The 1-3 home defeat against Aston Villa was Chelsea’s fourth consecutive match without a win, as they dropped back to fifth, outside the Champions League finish.

We’ve got half a season to go, and the 2-1 win over Manchester City does show that Chelsea can still put out a wonderful, strong and convincing effort against better teams, but the softness and lack of concentration on the defensive end, week after week, against teams Chelsea usually chew up and spit out without thinking seems to be the more permanent feature of this side.

Instead of finishing off an Aston Villa side that has consistently struggled in recent weeks to show anything similar to decent attacking play, Chelsea just toyed around until they got bitten by the snake. Didier Drogba’s penalty was a bad one as well, but he was lucky it slipped under Guzan. Stephen Ireland hasn’t looked so life like in over two years. Chelsea completely fell apart right near the end, and struggled to create any real chances during their pressure period in the second half.

When the excuses and evasions begin, you know something is wrong, and the manager is clearly feeling uncomortable. Chelsea did get screwed by the scheduling, getting to play four games over 11 days while Manchester United, always the beneficiary of these sort of things, get a 15 day span. Villas-Boas didn’t complain before the Christmas schedule began, he did complain yesterday.

I don’t think it’s fair for the calendar to be spread in this way. For us to go through this period with 48 hours in between, it should be done for every club. I know that television demands are high, but for all the players, they’ll go through physical strain and physical integrity, which can undermine their careers or their Euro 2012 ambitions – and the club’s objectives.

Was a title a realistic expectation this season? Probably not, but I’m pretty sure no one figured Chelsea might lose their spot among the top 4, which looks like a very likely scenario right now. With the defensive problems destroying things for Chelsea once again, with the confidence in each other and maybe even their manager’s ability to pull this thing back together again, the bumpy ride may be a long one.

As to the usual questions regarding his future with the club, Villas-Boas referred them to talk to the owner. Villas-Boas knows this team’s best finish will probably be fourth, even after watching United crash and burn at home against one of the worst sides in Europe this season – Our reality is a fourth-placed finish, but that is not good enough. We have to continue to pursue the best possible finish in the league, and a humble finish for this club.

Images: Source