Chelsea Health Check
1. Last season
Steven Gerrard slipping and scrambling on all fours as Demba Ba skipped away towards the Kop will forever remain the defining image of last season’s Premier League title race, but deep down Jose Mourinho will know that Chelsea blew it more than Liverpool or anyone else.
The Blues bested all their rivals in the head-to-head meetings but limp defeats to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland were their undoing. Mourinho’s men proved to be one dimensional, utterly ruthless in exploiting brave (naive?) opponents but bereft of ideas when confronted with massed defences.
Oscar’s dramatic collapse and the sale of Juan Mata blunted Chelsea’s creative edge and raised questions over the direction in which Mourinho is taking this team, while the absence of a genuine top-class striker reduced their ability to find decisive goals in tight matches.
In addition, the miraculous feats of Diego Simeone and Brendan Rodgers with far inferior resources made the Special One – along with every other underachieving top manager – look bad. It was the Argentine’s relentless Atletico Madrid side who deservedly ended Chelsea’s Champions League hopes.
After the annus horribilis rescued at the last by Europa League glory under Rafa Benitez it was a season which undoubtedly constituted significant progress. Chelsea are once again in the Premier League title conversation and are feared opponents in the Champions League.
But for only the fourth season of the Roman Abramovich era, there are no trophies to show.