Jose Mourinho has been very reluctant this season to tinker with his starting XI. Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Eden Hazard have started every Premier league game with Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas missing one each due to suspension.
Keeping a consistent team has been a reason for Chelsea’s great first half of the season, especially compared to Manchester United and Arsenal who have had a number of key players injured.
However, in this busy period where games come thick and fast, managers tend to rotate their squad much more, particularly the so called ‘big teams’ that have strength in depth.
Lack of quality
Chelsea’s match vs Southampton showed why Mourinho has been so reliant on certain members of his team and hasn’t given his squad players much of a go from the start of games.
Andre Schurrle has had a very disappointing season after an impressive World Cup. He really struggled to get involved in the match at St Mary’s which lead to him being subbed at half time for Willian.
Mohamed Salah has proven, when occasionally given the chance, he hasn’t got what it takes to be a Chelsea player. A transfer away from Stamford Bridge looks likely in January.
Filipe Luis came in for Cesar Azpilicueta and he has proven to be a big disappointment thus far. Regarded by many as the best left-back in the world last season playing for Atletico Madrid, Luis has been on the bench for most of the season and when called upon he hasn’t lived up to his reputation.
At fault for a number of goals when he has played, Luis also has frustrated fans with his play in the attacking third of the pitch. At 29 years of age, the transfer of Luis is not proving to be a shrewd one at present as he struggles to adjust to the change of leagues.
A question asked by Chelsea fans before he was signed was; is he too old? How many full-backs can you name that are 29 or older who are playing at their very best? The likes of Ashley Cole quickly went downhill when he reached this age.
The reluctance to replace some of the key players in the team will undoubtedly have an effect on their performances. Matic certainly wasn’t his usual self vs the Saints, notably in the first-half. An injury to him and Chelsea are relying on John Obi Mikel, who is nowhere near the player Matic is.
An injury to Terry or Cahill will mean Frenchman Kurt Zouma is given the responsibility of shutting out goals for the title favourites. Zouma is exceptionally talented and I am confident he will have a big part to play for the team in seasons to come, but at the moment he is very raw and inexperienced.
So whilst many experts can’t find a notable weakness in this Chelsea team, a few injuries and the standard of their replacements will be put under scrutiny.
Will Mourinho look to strengthen in January? It is extremely unlikely he will make a large number of signings, but if Mohamed Salah does depart as expected, it will leave a space in the Blues squad.
The likes of Marco Reus, Sergio Busquets and Koke have been linked, but any deal for these players will be done in the summer. In reality I wouldn’t expect any incoming transfers at Chelsea this January, but the question is do they need some?