Chelsea lost to Stoke City in the Premier League in a fashion that has become all too familiar. The Blues, without Mourinho in the stadium, toiled hard to win, and later draw, but as has been the case for most of this season, they were deprived of it.
Here are three things we learnt:
1. Very little belief in the team
The defending league champions have been humbled far too many times this season for them to have the belief needed to make comebacks and look genuinely composed throughout. After coming from behind and winning against Dynamo Kiev, the effects of the late win showed in the match as Chelsea started brightly. Even Hazard, who has been really poor this season, looked much better. Pedro and Willian were both enthusiastic and the former Barcelona player even hit the post once.
However, once Chelsea went behind, the effect of the goal showed and the players stopped making clever decisions in the final third. There was a chance for Remy where he could have easily simulated and got his side the penalty, but the player refused to falsely complain – an admirable decision, but one which cost his team. There seemed to be many opportunities for the Blues in this game, but they looked devoid of the final product, or the belief to get that equalizer.
2. Begović to Chelsea is a move that has worked out for all parties
Selling Begović to Chelsea got many Stoke fans complaining as well as confused. The Bosnian international would have to play back-up to Thibaut Courtois but has the quality to be playing every week for most teams. It was understandable on the player’s part to want a move to a more competitive team. This move has been of equal benefit for everyone concerned. The Bosnian got his move and Chelsea lost Courtois and now have an able deputy. But this has worked out best for Stoke who have Jack Butland as their number one choice.
Butland has been excellent in recent weeks with his performance at Newcastle really catching the eye last week. He once again produced a string of fine saves to deny Ramires and Diego Costa amongst others here. The Englishman was always highly rated but couldn’t get the game-time since his move to Stoke from Birmingham to realize that potential. However, after Begović’s departure, he has played more and shown how talented he is and how he can genuinely fight Joe Hart for the England number 1 spot.
3. Chelsea’s cracks show again, despite a positive performance
The Blues can genuinely not catch a break. They played well for large parts and with the same performance, would have won by one or two goals last season. Blaming luck seems like a convenient option but it has been the case. Despite a shift in performances from Eden Hazard, Pedro and Diego Costa, Chelsea’s weaknesses were also on display again.
There were moments where they seemed nervous and fragile on both ends of the pitch. Baba Rahman, who finally got a go in the Premier League, didn’t do well enough for Stoke’s goal and Glen Johnson went past him with ease.
This is the first time Mourinho has lost 7 matches in a single league season. The league has only seen 12 matches being played so far.
With the agonizingly long international break up next, Mourinho has some time to ponder over how to fix the problems appearing time and again in the Chelsea camp. How he deals with this latest setback could be career defining as far as the manager is concerned.