2015/16 has been a season to forget for Chelsea Football Club. The Blues are currently lingering around the relegation places as we approach the New Year, with a whole host of last season's stars failing to deliver.
A player who surprisingly falls into this category is Nemanja Matic, the Serbian midfield enforcer who emerged one of Europe's finest defensive midfielders last season.
His lack of form has proved one of the biggest factors behind Chelsea's recent failings after becoming such a vital cog in Jose Mourinho's brutally efficient machine last season.
BECOME A WRITER
Do you have what it takes? Sign up today and send over your 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay3
Article continues below
Matic was the essential defensive platform from which the Blues built upon and were crucially protected by.
His defensive nous and positioning often masked the frailties of his midfield partner Cesc Fabregas and allowed the Spaniard to instead conduct proceedings with his own array of talents.
Article continues below
Matic was the shield which allowed the likes of John Terry and Gary Cahill to breathe a little bit easier at the back. Rarely were Chelsea caught out defensively and a large part of this was due to the presence and form of their midfield anchor.
Much like Claude Makelele had done several years prior, Stamford Bridge had a defensive midfielder capable of winning them games. Crucial interceptions, vital tackles and, above all, an air of authority from the middle of the park helped cement the Blues as champions.
However, since the beginning of 2015/16, things have changed for the worst in both Matic's form and subsequently his impact upon games for Chelsea.
Matic has appeared sapped of confidence ever since the opening day. Chelsea have struggled defensively as a result, conceding 29 goals in 19 games and a lot of this can be traced back to the 27-year-old's poor input this season.
Too often he's been found guilty of placing wayward passes or being out of position, which has left Chelsea open and vulnerable to counter attacks.
Against Manchester United on Monday, we saw much of the same thing yet again. Despite being paired with the defensive-minded John Obi Mikel, the duo still struggled to nullify United in the middle of the park.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was offered time on the ball throughout the match and the Red Devils seemed to dominate the midfield area with ease because of it.
A lot of Chelsea's issues seem to stem from this lack of dominance in the middle of the park. Last season, Matic proved just how underrated the defensive midfield role is such was the ease in which he went about business.
Now that his form has severely dipped we are perhaps seeing the true extent of his importance at Stamford Bridge. A change in formation or a new partner could help the Serbian, but it's clear Guus Hiddink must find a solution sooner rather than later.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms