Last season, Chelsea cruised to Premier League glory as they had a defensive unit which was incredibly difficult to break down. Players such as Hazard and Costa would have taken the glory for their Premier League success but Chelsea’s defensive ability led to them only losing three Premier League games last season. Mourinho’s squad looks very similar this season but there has been unrest in the defence and it has led to them only picking up 4 points out of a possible 9 in recent weeks.
Is this defensive crisis a cause for concern for Chelsea this season?
Chelsea were known for their defensive style of play last season, and many labelled Mourinho’s side as boring to watch, but Mourinho and his team didn’t worry about the critics as they ended up lifting the League Cup and the Premier League in the 14/15 campaign.
Mourinho’s side only conceded 32 goals in the league last season while they were only defeated on 3 occasions in the league. Thibaut Courtois was also one of the top performing keepers last season as he kept an impressive 12 clean sheets.
Defensively, Chelsea’s squad hasn’t made any major changes during the current transfer window, but the once well organised defensive unit has shown some major weaknesses in their open three games in the new campaign. They invested in former Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic during the summer, but the keeper looked nervous during pre-season and made some clumsy mistakes.
This didn’t raise any concern for Chelsea fans though as Begovic was always going to be the back up option for Mourinho with Courtois being their number one keeper. It was Courtois that caused the first defensive concern for Chelsea this season as he got sent off in their 2-2 draw against Swansea in their opening fixture.
Courtois’ clumsy challenge on Swansea’s Gomis led to the Belgian getting sent off and Swansea equalising to gain a point from Chelsea.
It was also the drama during Chelsea’s game against Swansea that has led to a massive drop in morale within the squad as Chelsea boss Mourinho had a very public confrontation with physio Jon Fearn and club doctor Eva Carneiro.
Mourinho dropped both Fearn and Carneiro from the sideline as he didn’t agree with them entering the pitch when Hazard fell to the ground with a knock which led to a major media backlash as many disagreed with Mourinho’s outrage. Mourinho also made a decision to gain more attention as he took off Chelsea defensive legend John Terry at half time in their 3-0 loss to Manchester City last week.
This showed that Mourinho has lost faith in his once well organised defensive unit, and it is no surprise now that he has eyed up Everton defender John Stones to improve the Chelsea defence.
Courtois returned to the Chelsea line-up in their 3-2 win against West Brom while John Terry was named in the starting XI in their away fixture.
Chelsea seemed hungry for the win in the first half as Pedro impressed, Courtois saved a penalty and Costa scored as they finished the first half 3-1 up. Although, the cracks began to show in the second half as John Terry got sent off and West Brom got one goal back while they threatened to get an equaliser. Mourinho seemed to sweat for the remainder of the game and looked relieved to beat West Brom which shows that Chelsea are not the same side as they were last season as they seem to lack morale and confidence in their backline.
Chelsea have now conceded 7 times in 3 games this season and they have also conceded 11 times in their last 5 Premier League fixtures.
There isn’t a lot of time left in the transfer window so if Mourinho wants to invest in Everton defender John Stones, it looks like Chelsea will have to pay a whopping £36m for the English defender. The London club have also been linked with Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane but there has been no formal approach for the player as of yet.
Although, Chelsea’s defensive problem isn’t about having the lack of great defenders as they have some of the best defenders in the league but it seems to be more about a lack of morale and confidence at the moment.
Maybe, Jose Mourinho should take a long look at himself and attempt to fix the issue with his leadership and coaching skills rather than throwing money at every obstacle that gets in Chelsea’s way.