Another draw for Chelsea and Andre Villas-Boas, as their hopes of somehow joining the escaping title race took another blow in the West London Derby after another soft display, lacking urgency and aggression until the final moments leading to a 1-1 draw.
Where’s the Chelsea the simply overpowered teams into submission? They lacked style, but nothing came easy against them, especially not at Stamford Bridge. A midfield that dogged and hounded creative midfields, not allowing an inch of space at their best. Yes, a lot has to do with Michael Essien being injured again, but it’s not just him.
We’ve written about AVB’s revolutionizing, or attempting to, by slowly pushing out the old guard an implementing his own type of players and style. Well, Chelsea are fourth, but look like the weakest of the top 5 teams, or at least the most vulnerable.
The physicality and intensity, the pressure and aggression which were synonymous with Chelsea’s football during the Jose Mourinho days and also during Carlo Ancelotti’s better days are long gone. There’s not one pit bull in the midfield, while John Terry, who led the best defense in the land, can’t give what he used to. Maybe his troubled mind with the huge suspension and police investigation against him is bothering him from bringing finer displays to the pitch.
But for every team, it usually has more to do with the midfield than the actual defense. Raul Meireles can’t seem to replicate his Liverpool form or prove he was worth the big cash. Orioul Romeu might be a very good anchorman one day, but for now, he lacks the ability to force turnovers or push Chelsea forward. Frank Lampard is bad when starting and good when coming off the bench, yet him sitting sulking on the cushioned seat destabilizes Villas-Boas.
Juan Mata is most creative and talented player in this squad, but he’s not David Silva, or not there yet. Silva wasn’t incredible during his first season in the Premier League, and Mata’s yet to find the niche he’s most comfortable with. Up front, Daniel Sturridge is up and down – great when he’s on form and given space, less effective when he find open ranges to roam. Fernando Torres? It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s wrong.
At this pace, there will be no Champions League for Chelsea, despite having 20 more matches to play. The softness this side is showing too many times, against sides that usually crumbled before them not too long ago will continue to cost them crucial race points as the team tries to figure out if it where it is going.