The problems have continued for Chelsea after another disappointing game which resulted in a loss at home to Crystal Palace. Take nothing away from Palace they were very good and they play very well away from home. But, for the champions, it's simply not good enough.
Now they have to look forward to a tricky set of fixtures and attempt to close up any sort of ground they can to catch up to the leaders Manchester City. This squad has the talent to do that but changes are needed to the first 11.
The most recent team against Crystal Palace underlined the huge problems that certain players have and these players should be taken out of the team.
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The major problems that I see so far are Ivanovic, Fabregas, Hazard, Willian and Matic. These players were all key last year, but the last four games they have been a shadow of their former selves. The reason for this? No one quite knows. Maybe the hunger isn't there this year or there is a touch of complacency. But what I do know is that they have looked off the place and this is costing the team at both ends of the pitch.
Let's look at the attacking players: Hazard and Willian are meant to be part of Chelsea's attacking flair which we saw in abundance last year, mainly from Player of the Year winner Hazard. But, neither have scored yet and Pedro has overtaken them in goals and assists combined in his first two games.
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With Hazard, he just hasn't hit the heights of last season yet, although he does have an extreme amount of pressure on his shoulders as the so called 'best player in the league' surely it is only an amount of time before he comes good but possibly the international break should be enough for him before he returns to the starting XI.
Then there's Willian, playing down the centre with Pedro on the right and this is leaving Ivanovic stranded because the Brazilain isn't covering for him as he did last year, and it's showing. Add into that the fact Willian doesn't offer anything up top, with his goal and assist stats being severely poor for a player of his quality. Willian should be replaced by Oscar or even Kennedy as soon as possible.
Next, the midfielders in question: Matic and Fabregas formed a lethal combination in the middle of the park for Chelsea last season as the former broke up attacks for fun and the latter controlled the game with his pinpoint passing.
But, this season they both have started very slow and poor. Fabregas is joint top of the 'players most dribbled past' - he has been easy to get past and lacked presence on the pitch as his main trait (his passing) has been woeful at times.
Matic gave away a penalty at West Brom with a clumsy challenge which you just don't see from him. He has been a little sluggish but hasn't been helped by the lack of help from Fabregas, who has been criticised for his lack of tactical knowledge as well. Surely Rubén Loftus Cheek deserves a chance to thrive In that defensive midfield role, giving Fabregas some time out of the team.
Ivanovic has been 'Mr. Dependable' and has become a very popular player with the fans due his big performances. Widely regarded as the best right-back in the league last year, he has started like anything but.
Seven goals have come from Ivanovic's side already this season. Any winger who he has come up against seems to have the beating of him. Wingers will be lining up to take him on at the moment. On the other hand, it's not all his fault; he has been left exposed by Willian. This is due to his new central role in Chelsea's front three.
Either way, Azplicueta should be brought over to right-back which is his natural position and then Baba Rahman should start at left-back; Chelsea didn't buy him to sit on the bench and he has a lot to offer.
The main fact is Chelsea are eight points behind Manchester City. I say change the starting 11 by giving the 'troubled players' such as Fabregas, Ivanovic and Willian a rest and bring in Loftus-Cheek/Zouma for Fabregas, Oscar or Kennedy for Willian and Rahman for Ivanovic and then watch the team play with a new spark of life and energy.
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