Chelsea failed to win in the fifth week of the 2022/2023 English Premier League. Acting as a guest team, the Blues fell when entertained by Southampton at St Mary’s on Wednesday (31/8/2022). The visitors were beaten 1-2 at the same time as an away defeat in a row after previously being beaten by Leeds United three goals without reply.
Minor results that certainly affect Chelsea’s position in the standings table. With seven points, two wins, one draw and two defeats, Chelsea must languish in the middle of the table. Meanwhile, perfect points in front of their own supporters returned The Saints to a positive path after losing 0-1 to Manchester United in the previous week.
These three points also boosted their position significantly. Soton managed to overtake and are now in a better position than Chelsea. Of course this defeat is a blow for Chelsea. The coach, Thomas Tuchel could not hide his disappointment after the match. He complained about the condition of his team. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
So, what is the basic problem that is whacking the Blue? First, the fragility of the defense line. Tuchel clearly highlighted this aspect. He admitted his team conceded easily. One reason is because the defense is not solid. Chelsea took the lead after Raheem Sterling’s close-range shot in the 23rd minute could not be saved by Gavin Bazunu.
Unfortunately, five minutes later Romeo Lavia scored a surprising goal against the visitors who were guarded by Edouard Mendy. Adam Armstrong then got his turn to list his name on the scoreboard with his goal against Mendy in the 45+1 minute. The goal spoiled Chelsea’s good start. The Blue who continued to dominate the match seemed to have lost a way to score goals.
A pair of goals that should have been avoided if Thiago Silva and his friends could guard the defense well. Silva seemed unable to anticipate the playing style of Ralph Hasenhttl’s team who tended to send the ball straight to the defense and relied on Che Adams to win aerial duels. It turned out that this strategy worked. Silva who was always targeted by Adams was so troubled. Noted, the senior defender from Brazil lost six times in aerial duels.
The former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) defender finally realized. He became an easy target. He can’t compete in the air. The choice then made was to let Adams take the air ball and keep it from moving deeper into the Chelsea defence.
Several times the host created chaos in the opponent’s penalty box. Proven effective direct baits. At the same time showing the gaping gap in the back row of the Blues. Second, the arrival of Sterling has not completely overcome the problems in the attack line of the team based at Stamford Bridge.
Facing Soton, Chelsea’s possession is superior, which is 68 percent compared to 32 percent. Although under pressure, the hosts actually played more efficiently. On the other hand, Chelsea from 10 attempts against the host only four on target. The number of “shots on target” Chelsea actually lost more than Soton who seven times out of nine attempts managed to threaten Mendy’s goal. This shows that the power of hitting and finishing is still weak. Mason Mount, Sterling, to Hakim Ziyech could not maximize every opportunity, especially in the first half.
Chelsea could only score after four ripe opportunities. This is a cue that Tuchel needs to read. How can Chelsea break into a team with a stronger defense, if the performance of the front players is not boosted immediately. The summer transfer window is closing soon. Teams like Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool have filled their ammunition by willing to spend more.
Meanwhile, Chelsea looked calm and seemed confident with the depth of the squad they had by only signing Sterling. Romelu Lukaku, and Timor Werner were let go. Hunting down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona in the dying seconds before the transfer window closed was a late but important move to salvage the situation. Third, Chelsea is not without enough players. Both those who fill the starting line-up and those who are prepared on the bench.
Unfortunately, the substitution was almost optimal, namely by making four of the five changes in the second half, it still did not change the situation. Mateo Kovacic replaces the injured Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Armando Broja takes Cesar Azpilicueta’s position. Christian Pulisic switched opportunities with Kai Haverts. Until Ben Chilwell fills Jorginho’s place. Tuchel tries to change strategy with less than 25 minutes remaining
match to return to the traditional 3-4-3 formation of 4-3-3. Unfortunately, tactical changes still do not make Chelsea’s game organization better, whether to just equalize, let alone win the game. What’s up with the Chelsea players? Fourth, individually a number of players did not perform optimally. They can’t bring out their best and form a solid bond with each other.
One of the players who is quite highlighted is the goalkeeper, Mendy. He has indeed proven his quality both at club level and with the Senegal national team. A number of individual awards and achievements with club and country have been inscribed.
However, for some reason, since the start of the season, the French-born goalkeeper 30 years ago has experienced a decline. The player whose full name is Douard Osoque Mendy is often in the spotlight. Romeo Lavia’s goal was part of Mendy’s problem. He could not secure the ball so as not to enter the goal to make the score a draw. Chelsea still have Kepa Arrizabalaga Revuelta who later became the bench warmer. Maybe it’s time for Tuchel to give the 27-year-old Spaniard a chance to take on more responsibility.
Fifth, the new season, just started. The first five games are an opportunity for each coach to test formulas and strategies. Like Tuchel trying to determine with what defense system they should play. Is it with four at the back like we beat Leicester City the week before? If that’s an option, why this time the system actually met a stalemate at Soton’s cage?
Is Chelsea more suited to the traditional three-man defense scheme? How should he position and give a role to Thiago Silva who is not young anymore and is starting to lose speed and toughness in the air? Tuchel was really thinking hard to find answers and make sure the same questions don’t happen again.