Worrying times. Crystal Palace were fastest to the ball, more dangerous in attack and even cocky when in possession. We are a shadow of the side that began last season so brilliantly. The poor second half of last season was psychologically understandable. We did not need to push ourselves and take risks with the title already in the bag. The problem is that this mentality appears to have carried on into the new season.
Many players have come in for stick. I put this down to a minority of Chelsea fans who believe they should be allowed to be judgemental if they are charged ticket prices that would equate to those at a successful West End play. Now I have become one of those angry fans for the first time under Jose's tenure.
What exactly has happened to Hazard? He looked disinterested and is making no impact. Willian might as well be playing in defensive midfield with shots that we would normally attribute to Mikel. Ivanovic is no longer making those attacking runs and brilliantly pairing up with Costa when we try to score. Instead, he looked afraid to venture forward, almost worried that he would not be getting the cover he needed from his teammates. Matic is certainly making more mistakes than usual and as a team the amount of unforced errors is becoming embarrassing. A year ago I thought this was a team which would finally provide us with total football. Now I worry if we should even bother trying to challenge Man City for the title.
Our central defence has rarely been as exposed as it is now. We are the side that normally has a a gluttony of one-on-one chances - yesterday it was our opposition who looked far more dangerous in attack. When we approached their penalty area, they knew how to compress their midfield and limit our creativity to the outside of the box. And as for Fabregas... what is going on there? What exactly is his role in the side? The only positive note is Pedro who has worked his socks off - but is our solution to any crisis buying a £20 million right winger? There are bigger issues here that we do not seem to know about. City are spending left, right and centre having been only a year ago found of breaching FFP. Everyone finds a loophole - surely we can find one too?
Our win against West Brom was against a side who were extremely poor. They did not try to exploit us when we were down to ten men and we looked more dangerous in their end than they were in ours. I can only echo our manager's comments that this is a difficult league. Swansea have beaten Man Utd today (who appear to have been shopping during a Harrods sale when they could buy the same items half price online) and Arsenal have been extremely lucky to have grabbed all three points at Newcastle yesterday. It is a long season, yes... but for now at least the gap between us and Manchester City is already looking monumental. It makes away trips more fascinating as every game means something now.
For the first time I welcome the international break. At this stage I would take finishing in the top three of the league.