Chelsea - Stoke City: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

09 December 2013 10:17

Chelsea lost to Stoke City -- not sure the masses saw that coming? If you did, and you had it on your accumulator -- well done. My advice is buy a lottery ticket as soon as you possibly can, before your luck changes!

Last season in the corresponding fixture Stoke scored two goals -- just so happens they were own goals, but goals nonetheless. This outing was a bit harder for Chelsea than last campaign's 4-0 visit to the Britannica. The Blues only true bright spot was the play of summer signing and German international André Schürrle; whose two quality shots that ended up in the back of net, and fierce strike which left the crossbar rattling, were a reminder of why he had an £18 million price tag from Bayern Leverkusen.

Coming off the back of a loss I can see how Chelsea fans might be pulling their hair out, ready to sacrifice a goat or burn an effigy to right the ship, but I have good news for you.

It was only one game -- so save your lighter fluid.

This edition of the Premier League's a crap-shoot. Injuries and flukes will decided the title -- the parity between the top five or so makes for an intriguing spectacle, but is torture at the same time. No team will be spared, as every team will have blimps.

England has the strongest league top to bottom in Europe. Sunderland was amazing in their mid-week 4-3 defeat to the Blues, and their "bottom." The only thing that can change the season is a top-signing for one of the contenders. A Lewandowski, Falcalo or Benzema-like signing, and even then, the transition period from German, French or Spanish football into the Prem takes the better part of a season -- so I wouldn't hold my breath.

For every 45 decisions gaffer José Mourinho gets right -- he gets one wrong. Starting the same back four three times in ten days might have been an oversight, but they had six points from two games -- can you blame him? Anything else is revisionist history/20-20 hindsight. To be fair, Mourinho isn't the guy in front of, or in, goal; more blame should be placed at the feet of the goalkeeper, and the dogged mentality of Stoke City.

The defensive short-comings that were evident against Sunderland, were still there against Stoke; it's just winning is the best deodorant. Now that points have been dropped, Chelsea's defensive prowess will be under the microscope, which must spurn a newfound sense of urgency in the ranks. It's not like Mourinho isn't spoiled for choice on his bench -- David Luiz and Ashley Cole have been less than absent this past month or so. The lackluster performance from the Chelsea strike force has been well-documented, but the real devil is defense. Chelsea's defensive record isn't horrid, but in order to separate themselves from the pack they will need to exorcise all defensive demons, and dare I say revert to Chelsea circa 2004-2006. Score early goals -- lock the shop, take the points -- and win trophies.

For all the doomsday Chelsea fans, worried this game is proof José Mourinho isn't the man for the job, take a moment and seriously think -- who would you rather have managing the club? I honestly can't come up with a name. I hear Martin Jol's available [banter]? So all this "José hate" -- stop it. Ultimately stability is key, the want to blow something up at the sight of trouble is a weak mentality. If you watch Chelsea play, they're normally on top of their opponents, all that's left is to get paid with goals, and if history is any barometer -- the goals will come.

Crystal Palace is next in line domestically at the Bridge, we'll see something different from the Chelsea lads I suspect.

As long as the Blues have two games to play against league-leaders Arsenal (who were beat rather soundly in their Capital One Cup clash) there's no reason to panic. There're 23 fixtures, or 69 points remaining -- so for all my hyperventilating brothers and sisters from Stamford Bridge way.

**Pick up your free brown paper bag on the way out, and repeatedly breath into it until you calm the hell down.


Source: DSG