My Blood Is Blue

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27 minutes ago, chara said:

I feel the main dismay is that the side is being decimated in every position

This is why my enthusiasm as ebbed away. I think January will be as much of a slog, and I think the safe bet is that there will be consequences for the players just about fit enough to continue getting picked. 8 points behind, you probably don't claw that back against a side who have won 10 on the bounce ... but if I thought we were through what was taken us from 4 ahead to 8 behind, I'd back us to make a bloody good show of chasing. We've got, to my mind, one of the best 3 or 4 managers in world football and an absolutely excellent first XI and bench, so why wouldn't you be positive?

The issue for me is that I just do not see us having a fit core 14 or so players for another month or two at least. 8 points will quickly become twice that in these circumstances and that time. Makes it hard in this moment to feel especially chirpy about the rest of the season. 

We really are not far off City, we've just had absolutely rotten luck that has dramatically exacerbated our weaknesses. 

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SabCFC   

It's easy to predict of course, when we're not winning (we're not losing either), that a lot of the talk is about: players not good enough, can't compete with City/Liverpool, we were never good in the first place (weird but whatever), the mentality of the players, the contracts of the players and so on.

Of course, football fans are often not satisfied by Occam's Razor reasoning. Why were we not good last season for months and months? The coach was completely inexperienced and had clear and obvious limitations from day 1- that wasn't satisfying enough for fans (and mediocre journalists like Matt Law) so we got the no leadership dressing room stories, the Rudiger stories, the German clique stories and so on.

Right now, it really doesn't take much to understand why we're not as good as we've been since February 2021. On the pitch it's obvious, players look unfit, they're late to challenges, the team's shape isn't compact enough, we don't press anymore. All things relative to the physical shape of the squad. It's pretty obvious why, in addition to injuries (2 strikers out for months, 2 CMs out for months and another playing *through* injury, a few short term injuries at CBs, a wingback done for the season and another who will be out for months now too), we've had a COVID outbreak that didn't lead to a single game postponed (United & Spurs basically got a winter break and a preaseason for the latter).

When Tuchel says he doesn't know what he can ask from the players. Ideally, his team presses: they can't do that right now. Ideally, his team is compact and doesn't give up space through the middle: they can't run 110km/game right now. Ideally, his team takes care of the ball and keeps it with absolute technical precision: they can't do that right now. They're toasted, they're out of breath. Jorginho has played through an injury and keeps playing and it's catching up to him, Kovacic looks more unfit than a player back from vacation: 2 months off and COVID does that to you. Kanté can only play 30 minutes there, 60 minutes there. Mount plays all the time and has lost some of his spark. 

You know who looks good? Lukaku looks good, he looks fresh, rested and fit. He hasn't played a lot this season. Kanté looks better than ever when he comes in, he looks fresh, hasn't played a lot too. Heck, Azpi looked very good last night too, he also hasn't played tons this season.

There isn't a magical solution. Only rest and recovery cures fatigue. Only being at your best physically can allow for sophisticated tactical tweaks to deal with the loss of players to long term injuries. 

This is the harsh reality of sports. If you're not fit, it's hard to be good. You can ask Liverpool about that in 2020/2021 when they kept inexplicably losing tons of games at home, or City the year before when they lost 9 games in the season. It sucks but it happens. Not often, but it happens. Happened to Chelsea in 2006/2007.

I'm not a believer in the January transfer cures. January deals are 90% bad deals. They're about players with bad stocks in the summer market, players on the wrong side of 20 you can't sell in the summer, they're deals for desperate clubs.

So the solution from previous experiences of Chelsea sides or other PL side in injury ridden seasons is again (Occam's razor) simple: buckle down, go through the worst patch of your schedule with gritted teeth, which I imagine will be the case of our next few games: conservative approach, be solid defensively, 3 CMs if need be, let Lukaku+a fresh attacker take what they can take. 

The takes will be inflammatory certainly. We will emerge from that eventually with an easier schedule in the spring (and really, for the rest of the year - 3 of the Top 4 games will be done by the end of the first month  - from Feb. we might be flying most likely), some players who haven't played much in the first 4 months due to injuries/COVID hitting their physical peak. It's damage control time. There's not much else you do when it's something out of your control, there are better days ahead.

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21 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

It's easy to predict of course, when we're not winning (we're not losing either), that a lot of the talk is about: players not good enough, can't compete with City/Liverpool, we were never good in the first place (weird but whatever), the mentality of the players, the contracts of the players and so on.

Of course, football fans are often not satisfied by Occam's Razor reasoning. Why were we not good last season for months and months? The coach was completely inexperienced and had clear and obvious limitations from day 1- that wasn't satisfying enough for fans (and mediocre journalists like Matt Law) so we got the no leadership dressing room stories, the Rudiger stories, the German clique stories and so on.

Right now, it really doesn't take much to understand why we're not as good as we've been since February 2021. On the pitch it's obvious, players look unfit, they're late to challenges, the team's shape isn't compact enough, we don't press anymore. All things relative to the physical shape of the squad. It's pretty obvious why, in addition to injuries (2 strikers out for months, 2 CMs out for months and another playing *through* injury, a few short term injuries at CBs, a wingback done for the season and another who will be out for months now too), we've had a COVID outbreak that didn't lead to a single game postponed (United & Spurs basically got a winter break and a preaseason for the latter).

When Tuchel says he doesn't know what he can ask from the players. Ideally, his team presses: they can't do that right now. Ideally, his team is compact and doesn't give up space through the middle: they can't run 110km/game right now. Ideally, his team takes care of the ball and keeps it with absolute technical precision: they can't do that right now. They're toasted, they're out of breath. Jorginho has played through an injury and keeps playing and it's catching up to him, Kovacic looks more unfit than a player back from vacation: 2 months off and COVID does that to you. Kanté can only play 30 minutes there, 60 minutes there. Mount plays all the time and has lost some of his spark. 

You know who looks good? Lukaku looks good, he looks fresh, rested and fit. He hasn't played a lot this season. Kanté looks better than ever when he comes in, he looks fresh, hasn't played a lot too. Heck, Azpi looked very good last night too, he also hasn't played tons this season.

There isn't a magical solution. Only rest and recovery cures fatigue. Only being at your best physically can allow for sophisticated tactical tweaks to deal with the loss of players to long term injuries. 

This is the harsh reality of sports. If you're not fit, it's hard to be good. You can ask Liverpool about that in 2020/2021 when they kept inexplicably losing tons of games at home, or City the year before when they lost 9 games in the season. It sucks but it happens. Not often, but it happens. Happened to Chelsea in 2006/2007.

I'm not a believer in the January transfer cures. January deals are 90% bad deals. They're about players with bad stocks in the summer market, players on the wrong side of 20 you can't sell in the summer, they're deals for desperate clubs.

So the solution from previous experiences of Chelsea sides or other PL side in injury ridden seasons is again (Occam's razor) simple: buckle down, go through the worst patch of your schedule with gritted teeth, which I imagine will be the case of our next few games: conservative approach, be solid defensively, 3 CMs if need be, let Lukaku+a fresh attacker take what they can take. 

The takes will be inflammatory certainly. We will emerge from that eventually with an easier schedule in the spring (and really, for the rest of the year - 3 of the Top 4 games will be done by the end of the first month  - from Feb. we might be flying most likely), some players who haven't played much in the first 4 months due to injuries/COVID hitting their physical peak. It's damage control time. There's not much else you do when it's something out of your control, there are better days ahead.

What a brilliant post. Thank you.

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chara   
3 hours ago, Ruudboy said:

Chara, please do us all a favour and take Mrs C to the shopping mall for an extended dress fitting on Sunday morning. We need all the luck we can get. Personally, I will be hiding under my seat in the Shed Lower, fully anaesthetised in advance of kick-off, and observing all personal rituals.

Personal rituals...the unspoken guilty secrets we all carry...we KNOW when it was our individual fault that Chelsea failed in any game...the horror of realising "something" was missed...

Unfortunately come Sunday I may well be to blame for any misfortune..Mrs C will want to go to Church..usually she leaves me in front of the TV to wallow in joy or misery but we have a bad storm system moving in...(power been off and on due to bad winds all morning although still sunny blue sky..for now!) and as a Ruislip girl she doesn't do Colorado snow driving so if possible I will be driving her down to Church..a very long 12 miles in bad road conditions!

The radical change of match day routine and secret rituals may have an effect either way... such is the terror and unpredictability of the efforts to influence our Chelsea World!

So..sorry Ruudboy....I hang my head in shame.......

Edited by chara

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57 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

On the pitch it's obvious, players look unfit, they're late to challenges, the team's shape isn't compact enough, we don't press anymore. All things relative to the physical shape of the squad. It's pretty obvious why, in addition to injuries (2 strikers out for months, 2 CMs out for months and another playing *through* injury, a few short term injuries at CBs, a wingback done for the season and another who will be out for months now too), we've had a COVID outbreak that didn't lead to a single game postponed (United & Spurs basically got a winter break and a preaseason for the latter).

Exactly - and playing teams who have had full weeks off.
 

58 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

When Tuchel says he doesn't know what he can ask from the players. Ideally, his team presses: they can't do that right now. Ideally, his team is compact and doesn't give up space through the middle: they can't run 110km/game right now. Ideally, his team takes care of the ball and keeps it with absolute technical precision: they can't do that right now. They're toasted, they're out of breath.

I don't think anyone has mentioned this - but it is true - we press for 2 or 3 minutes a game now.  The result is teams pushing up and pressing us instead.

38 minutes ago, My Blood Is Blue said:

You know who looks good? Lukaku looks good, he looks fresh, rested and fit. He hasn't played a lot this season.

Indeed

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1 hour ago, SabCFC said:

The takes will be inflammatory certainly. We will emerge from that eventually with an easier schedule in the spring (and really, for the rest of the year - 3 of the Top 4 games will be done by the end of the first month  - from Feb. we might be flying most likely), some players who haven't played much in the first 4 months due to injuries/COVID hitting their physical peak. It's damage control time. There's not much else you do when it's something out of your control, there are better days ahead.

Completey agree. A lack of fitness has crippled us, and there is no way of dealing with it other than going through it. That's what is so gutting for me, a season where I think the quality and the opportunity genuinely was there but is now, in terms of the big prize at least, now a bit of a write-off.

We had our issues with injury before Omicron so there's no simple finger pointing, but the PL has massively undermined the integrity of this year's competition (not just for us, others have got the short straw also) with its approach to postponements. This year's title will have more of an asterisk against it than Liverpool's imo; at least they were miles ahead and just seeing it through before games were called off, and all teams got the same treatment. 

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SabCFC   

Absolutely. Who even had COVID in that 2019-2020 season? Everyone got a long break, then you got to have a mini-preaseason and then games were scheduled all at the same time, with only the latter stages of the FA Cup playing a part. Most of the table was decided before the break as well, including Liverpool's title.

This time is very different. It will be remembered like the Lakers winning the NBA 2020 in the COVID bubble. Teams not playing for almost a month, teams not playing for 3 weeks at the start of an outbreak, teams avoiding the 48 hours turnaround of Boxing Day fixtures, the Russian roulette of outbreaks & injuries. There were sackings in November, but I doubt we'll see any now, clubs aren't stupid, they know why Leeds have crumbled, why Chelsea have struggled, and no manager replacement fixes such issues.

It's fine by me personally. City are a playing at a very high level and went on the same run as last season, that was always going to be hard. If we make sure we're still solidly in the Top 4 by February, we can focus on winning some cups thanks to favourable fixtures until May.

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So what is the reason why we haven't been able to postpone games but other teams have? Is our squad that much bigger? Have some of the other teams been fibbing about injuries and covid cases to get games purposefully cancelled? 

Edited by CarefreeMuratcan

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