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Chelsea are this pre-season’s crisis club after a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal despite losing only one of their first-choice XI.
Welcome to CHELLSEA
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a crisis club. As we enter the last week of July, this is absolutely essential. Last summer we were worried about Tottenham and now we can all collectively get our knickers in a twist about Chelsea. This is perfect from a media point of view because they are a) popular and yet b) deeply unpopular. Whoop-de-doo.
On the back page of the Daily Mirror, we are told they have now become CHELLSEA, which seems like a perfectly reasonable response to a pre-season friendly result against Arsenal in which they started in an unfamiliar formation, with Emerson at left-back, Conor Gallagher in central midfield and Timo Werner up front.
On the inside pages, Liverpool fan Darren Lewis writes:
‘Chelsea looked a half-baked work in progress whose belief in their own publicity left them dismantled by an Arsenal team coached, primed and ready for the new season.
‘And that’s the players who actually want to be there. Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso and Hakim Ziyech want out, while Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic want more game-time.’
First, they are a half-baked work in progress. But of the five players listed there, only two – Alonso and Pulisic – started the FA Cup final little more than two months ago. And Alonso only started because of a long-term injury to Ben Chilwell.
‘Where is Chelsea’s Gabriel Jesus?’
Well, they have just signed Raheem Sterling, who scored more goals than Jesus last season for the same team. Lewis goes on to list the forwards at Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham and it’s true that the list is impressive, but are we all in danger of forgetting that Chelsea have just finished third and scored 76 goals, which was considerably more than Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United. And the only forward they have ‘lost’ is Romelu Lukaku.
‘In a top-four race of fine margins, you would not even back this Chelsea to beat struggling Everton on the opening weekend.’
Shush. The only reason you would not back them to beat Everton – who finished last season 35 points behind – is that they are 8/11.
Over in The Sun, we are told that ‘everywhere you look in Tuchel’s current best starting XI that could face Everton in their Prem opener on August 6, there are major holes yet to be filled’.
Are there? Let’s take a look at that Chelsea side that went toe to toe with Liverpool in the FA Cup final and only lost on penalties…
Mendy; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic, Lukaku
Two members of that side have left – Rudiger and Lukaku – and one would arguably like to leave. Those three can be replaced straight away by a fit Kai Havertz, Chilwell and the new signing Kalidou Koulibaly. Add the Pulisic upgrade of Sterling and you get here…
Mendy; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Koulibaly; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Sterling, Havertz
Where are the ‘major holes’? It’s fair that strength in depth might be an issue but that starting XI looks at least as strong as the one that finished third and reached two major finals last season.
‘Tuchel is tasked with ensuring last season’s 19-point gap between Chelsea and champions Manchester City closes significantly, as well as the 18-point gap to Liverpool.’
With respect, we don’t think it is; his task this season is to stay in the top four at a time of great upheaval.
When Lewis writes in the Mirror that ‘perhaps Chelsea are in no position to be turning their noses up at Cristiano Ronaldo after all’, perhaps he should take a look at last season’s Premier League table, which saw Chelsea finish 16 points ahead of Manchester United having scored 19 more goals.
Perhaps Chelsea know what they are doing by turning up their noses at a goalscoring circus, after all.
Over at MailOnline, they say ‘Tuchel is fuming at a ‘lack of commitment’ from his Chelsea stars, with his defence in disarray and Sterling and Koulibaly not settled yet… how the Blues unravelled in the US on the eve of the season’.
Unravelled! In pre-season.
‘Waving farewell to both Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger on free transfers did not just provide Chelsea with a setback financially.
‘Losing such stalwarts in defence is bound to disrupt the back line on the pitch at the start of the season, piling extra pressure on Kalidou Koulibaly to slot in seamlessly following his arrival from Napoli.’
That will be a ‘stalwart’ that started 17 Premier League games last season. A ‘stalwart’ who did not play in either cup final or the extraordinary game against Real Madrid that ended 3-2 to Chelsea.
Indeed, of the team that played so brilliantly against Madrid that night, only Rudiger has left the club. And yet they are now in full-blown crisis mode.
‘Whether Manchester United wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo is the answer, Chelsea are likely to struggle next season with natural attacking midfielder Kai Havertz leading the line solo.
‘With ex-managers Frank Lampard and Antonio Conte to face in the first two matches of the season, pressure could well be at boiling point as Tuchel’s new-look Chelsea bid to put a turbulent pre-season in their wake next month.’
Boiling point?! Some of us are old enough to remember the Mail describing Chelsea as ‘vapid’ as they lost 3-0 to Werder Bremen in the pre-season before the 2014/15 title-winning season, while Chelsea ‘saw their limitations brutally exposed’ two years later before they won the title again.
That’s not to say that Chelsea are going to win the title – only a fool would predict that – but being on the verge of a cracked badge mid-way through pre-season feels like a slight exaggeration.
But for a real exaggeration, let’s take a look at football.london, who bring us this nugget:
‘Maybe Tuchel has never had so much to do with just one 90-minute game, as Chelsea prepare to play Serie A outfit Udinese on Friday and it might be the most important of his reign so far. The German manager has formations to try, relationships to spark, fitness to build, players to test, and all whilst keeping the task of Frank Lampard’s Everton in his mind.’
Forget the actual Champions League final. Forget the two domestic cup finals from last season. Forget the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid. The most important 90 minutes of his reign so far come in a friendly against Udinese on Friday night. Nice to see everybody is keeping perspective.
The article Chelsea are designated crisis club as Udinese friendly is bigger than Champions League final appeared first on Football365.com.