If Chelsea don’t get a place in the Champions League – and it’s now looking like they won’t – they simply only have themselves to blame. After a third draw this season with Fulham, 1-1 at Craven Cottage, they’ve slipped to 6th, two points behind the final Champions League spot with their next game at Arsenal.
Meireles just behind the strikers was not going to offer support to Torres, who displayed a forlorn figure with no support. Where does the blame lie for this? Undoubtedly, Di Matteo should hold his hands up and admit the tactics and selection were wrong. Chelsea has 57% possession, yet most of this was in the midfield or Chelsea’s half, and they didn’t deserve anything more.
That said, Chelsea did get in the lead through a hotly disputed penalty, and should have defended much better. Chelsea over the years have made a name for themselves tightly defending 1-0 leads, yet they always gave the impression they would concede chances, and Dempsey eventually punished them. Ivanovic, who despite his recent goalscoring exploits again showed no desire to defend and help out his team in the right back area.
In modern football, with the speed of counter attack and skill of offensive players, every man must do his task in a defensive system, and full backs who simply selfishly do not wish to defend will never be an asset to their side. The change of Mata for Meireles with around 20 minutes remaining was another baffling moment in a damaging Monday night for Chelsea, the Spaniard again offering nothing defensively at a stage when the away team needed to begin closing out the game.
Chelsea need to take a long hard look at themselves and what they want to achieve from this season. They’ve placed all their eggs into the FA Cup and Champions League basket, but come next September they will sorely regret it if they are plying their trade in the Europa League.
Am I being harsh on the West London Blues? Think they can still sneak into the top four? Give me a shout at @aitkenheadhj on Twitter, or by searching Harry Aitkenhead
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