Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge today was the latest in a run of defeats against some of the weakest and most out of form sides in the league.
After stunning losses to West Ham and Everton, both mid-slide down the table, Frank Lampard’s team followed up with an even more spectacular loss to a team that had racked up five defeats in a row.
This latest effort was a new low, for several reasons.
Those previous losses, while clearly the product of very poor performances, at least saw passages of good play and attacking threat from Lampard’s team. Today, the Blues were barely able to string three passes together, and one Emerson header aside (missed, from point blank range) they didn’t threaten the Cherries goal at all, despite the absence of Nathan Ake, their star defender.
The first half was utterly forgettable, and one gets the sense that we only appeared to threaten more in the second period because the away team got a goal and sat deeper.
What’s truly worrying is that it’s hard to see what the manager could have done to improve things. It would be nice to point to some major errors than he can fix ahead of next week’s games, but by and large he picked a team that people would agree with.
The front three are our most in-form players in those positions. The midfield was without Mateo Kovacic, but one can’t be wise after the event and say he should have played. If you’re going to rest your first teamer players over the Christmas period – and you have to – a home game against a struggling side is the perfect chance to do so.
At the back, yes he could have played Reece James, but Cesar Azpilicueta was our best player on the day anyway. It’s hardly the kind of change that would have upgraded us to an unstoppable attacking force.
Given all that, it’s tempting to say that it’s just a lack of options and quality that is holding this team back. Many fans are calling for this to be the trigger for a massive January spend – and there’s no doubting that if a top tier talent is available they could make all the difference to this side.
But the biggest mistake we could make now is to overreact, and overspend on mediocrity. Let’s not forget, there were 11 good players out there today who just didn’t perform. Would Wilfried Zaha really have performed so much better than Willian today that things would have been totally different?
We’re not so sure. This bad run is without doubt a strong reminder that we’re a couple of very good players away from the top level. But what it shouldn’t do is make us rush into buying a handful of ones at the level we’re already at, just to make the fans – and the people upstairs – feel better.