Chelsea are in third place in the Premier League at the halfway mark. What grade did they get for their performances over the first half of the season?
Chelsea currently sit third in the Premier League table with 38 points from 18 matches. The biggest takeaway from the first half of the season is the Blues’ ability to match the skill of the other big clubs in the league. Chelsea defeated both Manchester United and Tottenham. They also drew with Arsenal and Liverpool, only coming away with no points from the match against Manchester City.
Eden Hazard has returned to his masterclass form and N’Golo Kante is playing like one of the world’s most talented defensive midfielders. But it’s Alvaro Morata impressing critics most. Questions surrounded the young striker early on as fans were unsure if he could replace Diego Costa up front. As a matter of fact, the 24-year-old has done everything asked of him and then some. Youngsters like Andreas Christensen and Tiemoue Bakayoko have also become integral pieces in Antonio Conte’s lineup, as well.
Another takeaway from the Blues’ season thus far is their ability to get positive results without key players. Kante, Morata and Hazard are among the most notable Chelsea names to miss multiple Premier League matches. However, despite an abundance of injuries early on, the Blues have managed to stay afloat in the top four, playing well with what they’ve got each and every week.
Not everything was fine and dandy for the Blues throughout the first half of the year, though. The largest problem plaguing the Blues has been inconsistency. Whether it’s lack of preparation or a result of having more fixtures this season, Chelsea haven’t always played up to Conte’s standards.
Despite losing to a previously winless Crystal Palace side and Burnley at the Bridge on opening day, Chelsea’s worst loss of the year came at the hands of West Ham. The players not only lacked creativity, they played without pride or hustle. The Blues lost 1-0 to David Moyes’ side on a day in which they could’ve drawn level with Manchester United in second place. Further, they could’ve kept the gap to league leaders Man City at 11 points. Instead, the Blues dropped 14 points behind the Citizens — effectively ending their title hopes less than halfway into the season.
Put simply, Chelsea are losing to too many teams they shouldn’t be losing to. Of course, the 1-0 loss to City is to be expected, but losses to Burnley, Crystal Palace and West Ham simply aren’t acceptable.
If there’s one guarantee for the back half of the season, it’s that Chelsea are going to spend some money in January. Conte has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the winter transfer window. The Blues are in need of depth, once again. With rumors circulating about Michy Batshuayi and David Luiz leaving next month, the London side need replacements. Look for Conte to bring in more wing-backs and another striker. While defensive depth is slim, the Blues have enough to get by with what they’ve got in that department.
In terms of results, expect a tough squad with ever-changing lineups. The Blues have a tough back half of the season, including back-to-back trips to Manchester sandwiched between a Champions League round of 16 ties against Barcelona. However, expect Chelsea to keep fighting. As of now, winning the league is nothing short of a dream continuing to fade away. Now, the focus is a top four finish and a deep run in the Champions League and League and FA Cups.
B: The Blues have had an incredible season thus far by the standards of most other clubs, but not their own. They’ve shown glimpses of greatness, but haven’t been consistent.