Chelsea’s European campaign came to an abrupt end last week as they fell to PSG at home on away goals. The Premier League leaders looked out of sorts and despite playing against ten men for 90 minutes, they were unable to go through at home.
The postmortem has begun. Obviously. Chelsea fans and pundits have been dissecting the defeat non-stop since last week. The main issue is that the squad simply isn’t good enough and that despite being at the top of the Premier League, Chelsea still have major issues within their squad and their starting line-up, as was exposed by PSG and to an extent by Southampton.
On paper the starting line-up might seem fine but it is quite flawed. The back-four is very slow. Branislav Ivanovic is 31, John Terry 35, Gary Cahill is 29. These three are also quite slow and Cahill doesn’t look like a top defender capable of ushering in a new dawn post Terry. Chelsea need to sign a top class centre-back, even with Kurt Zouma coming through. Cahill should be more of a squad player in future and the club could also do well to sign an energetic right back to add cover to Ivanovic. There is a severe lack of pace, Southampton caused Chelsea a lot of problems with balls in behind Chelsea’s defence. It’s just not as good as it once was. Terry is old and Cahill isn’t anywhere near the level Ricardo Carvalho was.
Further up the field there are also problems. The side lack a player to partner Nemanja Matic, or cover for when Cesc Fabregas is pushed further up the field. If he had an energetic defensive partner and Fabregas was in the no.10 role the side might look a lot more effective. It would give the side more balance and also make Chelsea less vulnerable to quick counter-attacks.
In essence they need a new holding player and a new centre-back as absolute urgent signings to really push in Europe. They could also do with another attacking midfield option as Oscar has not really fulfilled his potential yet and WIllian doesn’t offer goals but more just industry. There is too much attacking burden on Eden Hazard. One could hope that Juan Cuadrado might step up and score goals next year and add creativity, but we’ve not seen anything yet, as he’s barely been given a chance.
As a minimum requirement Chelsea need a top class centre-back, a top class holding player and potentially another option for the attacking trio. These tweaks will turn them from a good side into a top side again. Right now they’re nowhere near the top, even if they are better than they were last season.