Chelsea’s biggest weakness revealed again as dreadful run dragged on in loss to Man Utd
Helsea have gone toothless against England’s biggest and best teams.
A 4-1 away defeat at Manchester United was just another sad episode in a dismal season, but the trend of poor performances in big domestic matches is becoming an increasingly common theme.
Casemiro opened the scoring with a header after just six minutes at Old Trafford, before Anthony Martial netted a second just before half-time and Bruno Fernandes won and netted a penalty.
Marcus Rashford added a fourth after a terrible error from Wesley Fofana, while Joao Felix scored a late consolation goal for Chelsea.
It was a remarkable scoreline after a first half in which the visitors played well but wasted big chances through Mykhailo Mudryk, Kai Havertz and Conor Gallagher.
The defeat extended Chelsea’s winless streak against United to 11 league games, as the Red Devils secured Champions League qualification following their big win.
Such figures are not new for the Blues. Manchester City, for example, won their sixth game in a row against Chelsea on Sunday, the first time in their history that they have managed such a run.
Since the Blues won the Champions League final in 2021 under Thomas Tuchel, they haven’t even managed to score against Pep Guardiola’s side.
This trend, of course, predates the current Boehly-Clearlake ownership group, but under them it has only gotten worse.
Since the start of last season, Chelsea have lost in their 15 matches to teams starting above them in the Premier League table. Those defeats ended Tuchel’s title challenge last season and forced the Blues to settle for a run to the top four.
This season, with so many teams above the Blues, they haven’t even been able to compete for a place in Europe’s second- or third-tier competitions.
The lack of competitiveness and leadership at Chelsea is an issue that worries caretaker manager Frank Lampard, who was part of an aggressive Roman Abramovich-era dressing room.
He said before kick-off: “My experience in football is that if you turn it off it’s not easy to turn it on. It doesn’t always become a cure overnight.
“It will not be my responsibility, but in my experience of being at a successful club for many years, the times when you turn off become very difficult to turn on. This will be next year’s test.
That’s why he didn’t try to water down or protect a group of players who have lost a core Chelsea value: the will to win.
He has at least faced Chelsea’s youngest XI in Premier League history with starts entrusted to Carney Chukwuemeka, Lewis Hall and Noni Madueke.
Mauricio Pochettino will soon arrive as the new manager, the son of a farm worker from Santa Fe in Argentina who likes to describe himself as a fighter. His task from day one will be to rekindle the fire inside this weak group of Chelsea players.