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Chelsea is in crisis

Image used with permission from ahundt/Pixabay
Chelsea Football Club has failed to win 11 times out of 17 attempts in the Premier League this season, per Fotmob. Chelsea’s overall form places them in an unprecedented relegation battle.

It’s May 1. The final whistle has sounded and Chelsea has just lost their 14th match to London’s Arsenal team with a score of 3-1. This result means that the Blues, as they are referred to by fans, now have twice as many losses in the current Premier League season as they did in the entirety of their previous domestic campaign. Chelsea has lost five consecutive games, which has not occurred since 1993. For a club that has spent £650 million this season, their performances on the pitch have been appalling. 

After breaking the British record transfer fee of £105 million for the signature of Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, Chelsea has now spent more money since last summer than Liverpool in the last decade, according to Sky Sports. In addition, no team has won fewer games in the Premier League since Oct. 16. 

As recently as 2021, Chelsea won the Champions League and last season reached the Carabao and FA Cup Finals. After all this recent success, fans are struggling to understand how the team has regressed so dramatically. 

In May 2022, American billionaire Todd Boehly acquired the club for £4.25 billion. The previous owner, Roman Abramovich, took Chelsea from a trophyless club to the winner of every championship under the sun. It’s understandable that in the first year of his absence, the club he brought to the top has begun to fall from its perch.

Coming into the position as owner, Boehly had no team, no plan and no direction.

With no prior football experience, I expected that Boehly would appoint a technical and sporting director. Coming into the position as owner, Boehly had no team, no plan and no direction. 

He appointed himself as acting sporting director and made all of the executive decisions on their recruitment of young and senior players, according to The Athletic. It’s no surprise that such disastrous recruitment came from a man who is not experienced in the field; non-footballing personnel should not be allowed to hold the office of sporting director at a football club of Chelsea’s stature.

The number of injuries that Chelsea has had this season could contribute to their shortcomings. Chelsea has plenty of players, but there are drastic shortcomings in key areas regarding football ability, costing them many crucial points this season. 

Right-back Reece James is often the difference between the team’s success or defeat and has played just 48% of Chelsea’s league games this season due to an ACL injury. On the other side of the back line, Ben Chilwell has only played 66% of league games this season after suffering a hamstring injury in November. 

To make matters worse, the player deputizing for him has been Marc Cucurella, a £60 million summer acquisition with a lack of defensive awareness and poor physicality. It’s immaterial that the evergreen Thiago Silva has been stalwart at the back since joining in 2020.

However, injuries are not the only problem plaguing this undoubtedly talented team. Chelsea has made 17 transfers since the start of this season. In doing so, they have spent more money than all of the teams in Europe’s top five leagues combined. One would think with so many new players, they would perform better now than in the previous season, where they finished in third place. Thus, their regression is largely due to the fact that Cucurella isn’t the only disastrous signing made by the Clearlake consortium.

Many big-money signings have been ineffective, such as Mykhalo Mudryk for £88 million and Raheem Sterling for £47.5 million. 

The disappointing performances from new players are highlighted by Chelsea’s scant 31 league goals this season, which is three less than Manchester City striker Erling Haaland’s number – 34 goals all on his own.

On a positive note, the signing of Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig looks like a shrewd acquisition. Nkunku can score 20 goals a season, create chances and run in behind with an explosive pace. 

On a positive note, the signing of Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig looks like a shrewd acquisition.

So where does Chelsea go from here? They’ve been knocked out of the FA Cup, their earliest exit in the competition since 1998. Qualifying for European competition is out of the question, let alone the Champions League, as the Blues currently sit in 12th place. In addition, they are on course to set an unwanted record of their lowest-ever points tally in the club’s history, which, according to OneFootball, was set back in 1996 at 50 points.

Only when Chelsea has gotten rid of players that aren’t at the technical level to represent the club and who are only looking to collect a wage at the end of the week can we get a real sense of the club’s potential.

In the 2015-16 season, Chelsea finished in 10th place. There was a lot of uncertainty around the club’s direction after parting ways with world-class manager, José Mourinho. The next season, Chelsea appointed Antonio Conte as manager and made smart signings. The Blues won their fifth Premier League title that year, demonstrating that if the club has the correct manager, then an unsuccessful group of players can be transformed into a winning collective. If I know anything about Chelsea, it’s that when we go through periods of turmoil, we come out stronger on the other side.

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About the Contributor
Theo van Zyl, Media Team
Theo van Zyl ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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