4 things Chelsea must address following the World Cup
The 2022 World Cup is drawing to a conclusion and that can only mean one thing: it’s nearly time to get back to business in the Premier League.
For Chelsea, that means they have an awful lot of work to do. They currently sit in eighth place, five points adrift of the Champions league positions. That is nowhere near good enough for a club with their recent history and coming off the back of a £250m summer spend.
The Blues resume their season with a home game against Bournemouth on 27 December, followed by a trip to Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day, so they will get the chance to start off on the right foot against two of league's three promoted teams.
Here are four things that Chelsea really need to sort out if they are going to turn their season around after the World Cup.
1. Find a striker
It really didn’t take an expert at the start of September to realise that Chelsea had left themselves very light in the striker department.
Romelu Lukaku was the marquee striker signing ahead of the 2021/22 season and, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out for him at Stamford Bridge – again. It wasn’t a great surprise to see him slink back off to his comfort zone at Inter, but Chelsea never really replaced him.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came in but is past his best now. Some trust was put in Armando Broja, but he has not shone and is now injured. Kai Havertz might be the answer, but no one seems to know what they want to do with him.
The club have identified RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku as the man they want - but the Frenchman is not expected to arrive until summer.
After all, only Everton, Bournemouth, Wolves and Nottingham Forest have had fewer shots on target than Chelsea this season.
2. Get the full-backs fit
One position where Chelsea are not lacking quality is at full-back. In fact, many expected Reese James and Ben Chilwell to be marauding down the flanks for England in Qatar this winter.
The reality is that both got injured before the World Cup.
At least, you could say, that the World Cup came at a good time for Chelsea with regard the injuries to James and Chilwell. They have missed fewer games than they would have during a normal season.
They are not necessarily lacking in depth in the full-back positions, but there is a noticeable drop-off in quality when those two are not fit.
3. Toughen up away from home
Only five teams have won more Premier League points than Chelsea away from home, but don’t let that deceive you.
The Blues are far too easy to beat on the road, especially for a top team, and you just can’t be that much of a soft touch when you are alredy seen as a big scalp in the Premier League.
Chelsea have lost half of their eight away games this season, scoring just seven goals in the process. Those are not hallmarks of a top team.
4. Have some courage with Graham Potter
We all know that Chelsea, traditionally, haven’t been the most patient with struggling managers in the past. In fairness, we don’t know if that will extend into the Todd Boehly era though.
The American's dismissal of Thomas Tuchel in September was specifically framed as not sharing the same vision for Chelsea.
Graham Potter started well at Chelsea and quickly went on a five-game winning streak. They come back from the World Cup on a run of three straight defeats, though.
Ultimately, Chelsea did not appoint a polished top manager in Potter and so it’s no good acting surprised if he’s not performing like one now.
He showed at Brighton, though, that he can cultivate an identity and build something long-term, and that’s what Boehly claimed he wanted. The courage of those convictions may get an early test and it’s important that it passes it.