Chelsea are currently 14th in the Premier League table with five points from six games after Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge. Despite Mauricio Pochettino's summer arrival as part of a major overhaul for the Blues, results are not much better than last season with just one league win to date and the Argentinian tactician already admitted that the club's leadership are "disappointed."
"It is about learning and the process," said Pochettino after the Villa defeat confirmed a third consecutive winless game. "We are a young team -- the players need to learn together. It is difficult to talk about positives because when you lose it is difficult, but we need to talk about positive things. No doubt that with time the team is going to perform."
Despite a net summer spend in excess of $206 million and no UEFA competition soccer to be distracted by, Chelsea still find themselves struggling to win games and to even score goals. Only Burnley and Luton Town have scored fewer than the London outfit's five-goal tally and only the Clarets, the Hatters, Sheffield United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton have lost more often.
"Of course, now we cannot hide the situation," added Pochettino of the growing early season pressure created by such poor form. "It is a situation that disappoints all the fans, the club, us and the players. They (BlueCo) are disappointed -- they arrived to the club so excited to build some project. Of course, they feel disappointed, but at the same time they need to support the plan."
So, why are Chelsea such a mess? It is not as simple as not having good enough players because the squad has been overhauled to a huge degree since the 2022 takeover to the point that it is unrecognizable from even 12 months ago. Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard had similar problems before Pochettino's latest struggles after an unconvincing Paris Saint-Germain stint.
We look at three major contributing factors towards the Blues continued struggles in what was expected to be a bounce-back season.
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Inadequate attacking options
One constant issue for Chelsea since the takeover which has not been solved during Tuchel, Potter, Lampard or Pochettino's time in charge is a recognized prolific goal scorer. It is the type of player that all teams aspiring to qualify for Europe need in the Premier League and one that was already missing from the group which the German tactician improbably led to Champions League success.
Olivier Giroud, Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham, Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all failed to catch fire in front of goal for the Blues to varying degrees of expectation. However, there is also an element of bad luck given that Christopher Nkunku who was signed from RB Leipzig this summer to solve that issue required surgery before this campaign had even started.
A true finisher might not solve all of Chelsea's form issues but it would go a long way towards turning some of their created chances into goals which would in turn bring in more points. For a squad of this quality to only have five goals to its name after six games is pretty poor however you slice it so that is definitely one contributing factor that might require further transfer surgery.
Second and arguably most logically, Chelsea have been in a constant state of flux since the takeover with a seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of new signings arriving. A steady stream of departures emerged this summer which necessarily deflated a bloated group but reduced further from the minimal team chemistry which Pochettino had inherited and that takes time to develop.
Soccer is a results-based business and you cannot expect to get the time to turn poor form around in the Premier League these days but that is exactly what Pochettino knew that he was walking into. It could be argued that the South American did not expect to see so many changes made to his squad when he agreed to take charge but it is not like his squad has been weakened -- it is much stronger.
Needing time to take form and a lengthy list of injured and unavailable senior players is absolutely not helping that. Equally, though, Chelsea should be beating the likes of West Ham United, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth or at the very least taking a point against the Hammers and the Tricky Trees -- those tactical failures are on Pochettino.
Initial firing of Tuchel
It would be unfair to blame Chelsea's current struggles on Potter, Lampard and now Pochettino given the chaotic nature of life at Stamford Bridge since the takeover. However, there is an element of truth in the argument that separating with Tuchel was the first major mistake made by BlueCo in their time with the club given the German's relatively short stay of execution.
Tuchel performed a modern-day soccer miracle in leading the Blues to their second Champions League title and that should have factored into considerations of a rocky start to the 2022-23 term yet it did not. The former PSG and Borussia Dortmund tactician is now in another elite position with Bayern Munich but did admirably to keep Chelsea united in very testing times during the club's sale.
Keeping Tuchel would not necessarily have prevented the club from reaching this point but it is unlikely that things would have deteriorated this quickly. The 50-year-old's ability to get the best out of a limited bunch of players could have at least salvaged some sort of European qualification for Chelsea but we will never know as BlueCo showed a costly lack of short-term patience.