Another home match, another loss of points. It didn’t help that Eden Hazard has found his form again, including a beautiful goal to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead before half-time. The frailties of this team make it easy, even for the weaker squads in the Premier League, to find a way to come back.
It hasn’t been going well for Chelsea at home recently, but what was mostly some problems in the Capital One Cup (Swansea) or fatigue becoming too costly (against QPR), in the 2-2 draw against Southampton, a team they thrashed on the road just 10 days ago, there are no real excuses to be used.
Rafa Benitez has opted no to use Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata in the same lineup except for once, which didn’t end up in a win. Now again, going for the creative option instead of selecting a natural winger, the problem of Oscar in getting back to his previous form, especially when playing a position he is less equipped to handle, especially in the sub-zero tempratures, a first for him in his life, proved a bit too much for Chelsea in the second half.
The other weakness was the midfield, Lampard and Ramires with the help of Oscar. Benitez stopped using David Luiz as his defensive midfielder, and maybe paid for it with the draw. Lampard and Ramires aren’t the best in the world when it comes to holding back attacks, and it looked like they were constantly chasing the pushing Southampton players in the second half, but simply not being even close to catching them. Throwing Fernando Torres in for 10 minutes after Lampard was taken off didn’t really change a thing.
Excuses for the loss? Benitez should have none this time. His teams wastefulness and complacency in the second half sit on top of the list. Instead of scoring the third and fourth, Chelsea were reckless and inaccurate in front of goal, and later own horrendous with their simple passing which could have made life much easier. No midfielders on the bench except for Marko Marin, who is being pushed further and further away from the squad, while Ivanovic, Terry, Ferreira and Bertrand could have been used to free up Luis for a midfield role (using Terry or Ivanovic) or using Bertrand on the wing, giving Benitez the width he loves to have.
Demba Ba is everything Fernando Torres isn’t in this stage in his career. If Torres still had moments of re-awakening, these are gone at the moment, not even getting a chance to start. It’s pretty clear that a striker with 14 goals this season, despite lacking the certain elegance that Torres still carries around with him, is a much more useful option to have, when he looks much more lively to everything that happens around him.
Chelsea aren’t in a title race, but they’re complicating things in the battle for the third place, failing to keep a safe distance from Tottenham and possibly Everton as well, by dropping too many points a team of this caliber really shouldn’t be. Despite all the money spent this season, Chelsea still look like a squad of talented players, but unbalanced, and not properly put together.