The woeful sight of Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic ballooning the ball way over the Manchester United crossbar when it appeared easier to score during the troubled sides’ 0-0 draw Monday perfectly framed the parlous position the club finds itself in midway through this tumultuous season.
The match at Old Trafford was a desperate and scrappy affair between two tortured teams who have both lost the ability to clinically dispose of opponents when the opportunity presents itself.
With Diego Costa suspended (again), Loic Remy suffering with a minor injury (again) and Radamel Falcao lacking match fitness (again), Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink opted to play Eden Hazard as the focal point in attack.
Hazard, yet to score for the Blues this season, spent the game being kicked from pillar to post, with the resultant free-kicks his major contribution to proceedings.
United goalkeeper David De Gea made several outstanding saves, denying John Terry, Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta, while Chelsea had Thibaut Courtois to thank for a piece of reflex genius that prevented Ander Herrera from scoring. Courtois would also have been grateful to the woodwork behind him which came to his rescue on a couple of occasions when beaten by strikes from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial.
The delusional verdict on the Blues’ official website referred to “lifting upwards” but Chelsea are floundering and Hiddink doesn’t have the players at his disposal to remedy the situation. He had a unified dressing room of stars to work with when he was first given the interim job, in 2009. Among them were Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Terry, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba; the core of team synonymous with silverware and success in the Roman Abramovich era.
Only Terry remains and, while his presence cannot be underestimated, the captain’s best days are behind him. Meanwhile, the January transfer window may provide Hiddink with stop-gap solutions in attack, but Chelsea’s problems run far deeper. They’ve lost their aura of invincibility and the warning signs of impending disaster were all there.
When Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, Arsenal and Manchester United were the two dominant forces in the English game but the Russian had ambition and an incredible bankroll. With money no object, Abramovich rapidly transformed the Blues’ fortunes. To date, 15 trophies have been won including four Premier Leagues, four FA Cups and the Champions League. It’s a phenomenal achievement in a comparatively short space of time which is put into perspective by the fact that since their formation in 1905, up until 2003 Chelsea had only won 11 trophies.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate