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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Seeing there is one last slot left... :p

Chelsea's imperious form in the beginning of the season under a new and one of the most decorated managers in world football were so impressive that they looked like they are determined to run away with the title this season for sweet revenge. A few good victories, both home and away over Portsmouth, Villa, Wigan and Citeh, and of course the unthinkable 5-0 away victory at Middlesborough with a depleted squad seemed to justify such claim without a shadow of doubt.

But suddenly, slowly and surely, they started to lose their swagger and suffered some setbacks, especially with their home form, since losing to Liverpool at home and surrendering the proud home record. They continued to drop points unexpectedly at home thereafter, some unforseeable such as failing to beat Newcastle, Everton and West Ham, and of course including yet another home defeat to Arsenal. Alarming to their fans but much to the sheer delight of their rivals alike.

And now their language and tone also changed somewhat, after dropping a total of 15 points in 9 home games. It does not help too that there are rumours questioning their solidarity amongst players and manager.

Enjoy as long as it lasts?

What do you say?


Luiz Felipe Scolari prepares for a ‘relegation’ tussle

Luiz Felipe Scolari has called on his players to imagine that they are in the thick of a relegation battle when they face West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge this lunchtime. The Chelsea manager expects the visiting team to be fighting for their lives as they attempt to put pressure on Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League, and wants his team to show similar qualities.

Chelsea's situation could not be more different and they could end the day at the top of the table if Liverpool fail to beat Bolton Wanderers, but their need for points is equally pressing and their recent form is little better than that of West Brom. Scolari's side have won only one of their past five matches and, more worryingly, only three home league games all season, leading to the manager's call for them to go back to basics.

“West Brom are fighting for their lives because they are in a bad position,” Scolari said. “My team need to understand this and play the same, with the same spirit and if not the same spirit, some more quality. The spirit brings the quality.

“It's a difficult game, as were the others, because this season all the teams have bought good players and have good squads. From first place to last, when they play one against one, it is difficult to say who will win. This season is different.”

Scolari concedes that he has been shocked by Chelsea's indifferent from at home, which he describes as “incredible”. Portsmouth, Aston Villa and Sunderland are the only visiting sides to have experienced defeat in the league at Stamford Bridge, with Liverpool and Arsenal securing rare away wins and even struggling Newcastle United and West Ham United leaving with a point.

Chelsea have dropped 15 points in nine home matches, a far cry from their dominance under José Mourinho, when they let only two points elude them at home one season. After sticking doggedly to his preferred 4-1-4-1 formation, Scolari may be prepared to experiment in an attempt to break down West Brom and is considering pairing Nicolas Anelka with Didier Drogba from the start for the first time. “I have more options and I will try to do something different for when we start the game,” Scolari said. “The result is also important because people are asking about our home form and asking why Chelsea are finding it hard to break teams down.

“The people who are talking are talking correctly because we have lost 15 points at home. That is incredible. But the opposition close very well and sometimes we make mistakes with the last pass, make mistakes with shots, we make the wrong cross and we do not score a goal.

“West Brom have good players for counter-attacking and they play more football than other teams that I see in the Premier League. They try not to play the long ball, they try to play football. We need to score one or two goals before we can breathe easily. If not, I do not know what will happen.”

Drogba returned to training yesterday after a muscle problem, leaving Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Essien, a long-term cruciate victim, as the only players on the sidelines. Carvalho is back in training after a hamstring injury and could return for the FA Cup tie against Southend United on January 3 or the next weekend's Premier League visit to Manchester United.

“Didier is now ready to be starting and I have more players at my disposal,” Scolari said. “[Florent] Malouda, [Salomon] Kalou, all the players. Only Ricardo is not ready for this game.”

· Registered
2,587 Posts
i do believe chelsea are above utd ,firstly we must catch them and then we must overtake them. its true chelsea are not playing to their own high standards but neither are utd and we have been poorer than them in all honesty.
this is a big month for utd and i expect the utd/chelsea tie to have a massive say in the title race.

· Banned
9,345 Posts
versa said:
Chelsea - Title Hope Over?
No.....and we're in a better all round position, but as Jazz said, if we don't take it,
then Chelski do, and I'd rather loose it to them the the Scousers!!

Liverpool will fall away, Arsenal have already done so, and Villa won't have the
strength this season...

· Banned
2,738 Posts
I think the league is a 2 horse race Liverpool simply have to many average players and not enough quality players .

The main man in question for me is carragher what a overated player so poor on the ball but get loads of credit for his Vidic like courage . But at he highest level you need defenders who can play with the ball and Liverpool dont have that .

As for Chelsea I think there is some in house crap going on . Alex wants out and there seems alot of moaning players there at the moment . Drogba , Anelka , Alex and add to that Deco who had a reputation as a massive trouble maker in Spainish football .

That said they will be the competition this season for United .

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309 Posts
i agree with Jazz that Chelsea will be our main challengers this season. a lot of thie key players have been out injured recently which partly explains their poor form. With essien, carvalho and drogba out for various reasons thats like taking rooney, Ferdinand and carrick out of our team yet they lie second.

i really do believe the title would be already out of reach if they had essien since september. The bloke is world class and is the one player in the premiership that I believe would walk into our team and actually improve it.

still think its ours for the taking as we have yet to fire on all cylinders showing we peaking perfectly for the secong half of the season;)

· Stretford Ender
2,454 Posts
chelsea have won it before with players they have

liverpool have no title challenge experience and arsenal.....well their just arsenal. always someone going on bout how they play the best football but nowhere to be seen when hand out the trophies that matter.

for me its two horse race between chelsea and us with Liverpool dropping off Feb/March time

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26,045 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
daily mail

The party is over for Big Phil's fallen idols

It was not just the result. It was not the performance. It was not even the decline that began towards the end of last year and has continued into 2009. It is what Sunday’s match said about the future of Chelsea, long and short term, that should worry those charged with the stewardship of the club.

Where do Chelsea go from here? Indeed, where are they now going, this season or next, under Luiz Felipe Scolari?

It is not just that Chelsea would appear to possess no equivalent of Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo, young players whose greatness has been established even before their athletic peak.

It is not that Ryan Giggs would appear to be growing old more gracefully than Michael Ballack.

The problems are more basic than that.

Where, for instance, is Chelsea’s equivalent of Jonny Evans, the young central defender who filled in so capably for Rio Ferdinand?

Where are the players that are coming through, where are the thrusting rivals for Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba or Deco, men whose days in the sun are surely numbered?

Manchester United have players whose value would be measured in tens of millions in the current market; not so Chelsea.

This is a team coming to the end and not enough thought has been given to the transition.

The league table has these rivals neck and neck, but they looked a world apart on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, invariably finds a way of keeping his playing squad fresh, but at Chelsea a series of managerial changes mean not enough thought has been given to renewal.

United have players of quality on the pitch and in reserve; Chelsea have a void.

They do not look good enough to compete this season and the next generation will not be ready by the 2009-10 season.

If Chelsea are to challenge in Scolari’s time — he only signed a two-year contract — it will need another vast investment from Roman Abramovich in the summer.

The owner was not at Old Trafford on Sunday — he was taking advantage of the traditional Russian holiday period with Daria Zhukova, his girlfriend — so he missed the opportunity for a reunion with a man whose presence in the directors’ box only served to highlight the blue malaise.

Jose Mourinho, now manager of Inter Milan, was here ostensibly to spy on Manchester United ahead of their meeting in the Champions League second round but unlike most scouts, including Fabio Capello, the England manager, he stayed to the bitter end, studying Chelsea’s disintegration without outward emotion.

That he watched to the final whistle was seen by some as a Machiavellian desire to let those responsible for his departure twist in the wind for his amusement, unable to leave the scene of their greatest humiliation in a Premier League game since February 2006.

More probably, Mourinho had a late flight to Milan so had no pressing reason to exit.

Either way, few could escape the thought that this defeat, this insipid response to Manchester United’s late first-half lead, would not have happened had he been in charge.

Mourinho did not know the meaning of defeat in the Premier League against the Champions League elite; by contrast, Scolari does not know the meaning of victory.

He has taken one point from a possible 12 against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal this season: a draw and three defeats. With this reversal, he has now lost to them all.

With each passing month, Scolari’s rivals are downgraded. Before Christmas, he was looking over his shoulder for Liverpool. Then Liverpool passed him and he began looking for Manchester United. Now United are on Chelsea’s heels with games in hand. Who next? Aston Villa? Arsenal? On this form, it is no longer unthinkable.

Wednesday brings an FA Cup replay at Southend United and what was once considered a momentary lapse in the conventional state of things is now an altogether treacherous affair.

Chelsea are potential giant-killing fodder, something that would never have happened under Mourinho.

Maybe his expressionless face was registering inner disgust.

This is to take nothing away from the performance of Manchester United.

Certainly, that which took place in the second half.

Until half-time, Chelsea gave as good as they got, albeit without a cutting edge.
Their passing was neat and inventive, little triangles all over the pitch, even if it did not take them in behind a resilient back four.

Yet it was their reaction to United’s first goal, from Nemanja Vidic, that exposed the difference in the teams.

United grew in confidence, created better chances, looked utterly assured at the back.

Nicolas Anelka arrived to little effect and at the moment Scolari was poised to introduce Juliano Belletti in place of Jose Bosingwa at full back, United scored a second through Rooney and the contest ended.

Apparently, the day after Steven Gerrard was arrested over the fracas in the Southport bar, Ferguson arrived at the Manchester United training ground in a state of high excitement.

Seeing his players poring over the news in the papers he seized his moment.

‘See?’ he snarled.

‘That Liverpool lot are celebrating already. They think they have won it.’

All nonsense, of course, the sort of mind games Rafael Benitez clearly thought were being played in public, rather than private; but it did the trick.

Manchester United played on Sunday like a team that had a point to prove, that wanted to knock the League leaders off their perch, in true Ferguson style.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have long ceased celebrating those autumn days when they played in the style of potential champions.

At Old Trafford, that particular party was well and truly over.
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