Something just isn’t working at Chelsea at the minute.
They’re not defending well, they’re not creating clear-cut chances and they’re not putting the ball in the back of the net often enough. From front to back, nothing is completely broken, but all the cogs appear to be out of sync.
Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Wolves, which Chelsea tried to get postponed because of a lack of fit players, was a painful watch for a number of reasons.
For the first half, Chelsea could barely get on the ball and looked panicked by Wolves’ attacks, with only VAR saving them from falling 1-0 down to Daniel Podence’s early strike.
They picked themselves up in the second period, with the introduction of Saul Niguez a surprise catalyst for improvement, but even then, the chances just weren’t there.
It was a stark contrast to the recent 1-1 draw with Everton, in which the opportunities were always there, but what these two performances, and indeed most of those over the past few months, had in common was a lack of cohesion in the final third.
Chelsea are just missing something now, and while there is a very justifiable argument that what they’re missing is about six regular starters, the reality is that this slump in performance began before Covid-19 wreaked havoc at Cobham.
Even with Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Jorginho fit, Chelsea have looked uncomfortable. They just haven’t put all the pieces together this season, and if they want to stay in a title race, Thomas Tuchel is running out of time to figure out an answer.
This 3-4-2-1 formation no longer seems to be working at either end of the field, and with key players likely to be missing or unfit for at least a few more weeks, it feels as though Tuchel must come up with a new way to get the goals flowing again.
Perhaps a three-man midfield would help Chelsea take control of games more. The trio of Saul, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante all impressed when on the field together against Wolves, and that could be something that should be explored in more depth.
The reality is that Chelsea are now six points behind league leaders Manchester City, with fourth-placed Arsenal the same distance away from the Blues. The drop-off has been noticeable and needs to be reversed soon before it becomes fatal.