They may have been crowned champions in May, they may have the Special One as their manager and they may have the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa in their squad. But, make no mistake about it, Chelsea are in a relegation dogfight now.
If things were bad before Saturday’s shock 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, they’re damn right awful now. Victories, goals and festive cheer are all in short supply over at Stamford Bridge. Missing out on Champions League football next term already looks a reality rather than a probability.
Despite their torrid start to the campaign many expected Chelsea to ease to victory over a Bournemouth side that had failed to win any of their last nine league games.
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And, despite a strong second-half performance, the Blues were stunned by a late winner by Glenn Murray, whose previous employers, Crystal Palace edged Mourinho’s side back in August.
The victory now leaves them hovering precariously above the relegation zone, with Newcastle United’s shock victory over Jurgen Klopp’s resurgent Liverpool moving them closer to the bottom three.
With Hazard having lost his sparkle, Costa having lost his ruthlessness and Cesc Fabregas seemingly having lost all footballing ability, Mourinho admitted his side now face an uphill battle if they are to finish in the top four.
But they also face a huge challenge to make the top half of the table. In a year where Leicester City spearhead the league standings and Watford are flying high themselves, anything could happen.
Leeds United and Newcastle are examples of two teams that were deemed “too good” for the drop. Players such as Alan Smith, Michael Owen and Damien Duff achieved great things throughout their career but could not salvage their club’s future in the top flight.
Mourinho has lifted trophies in England, Spain, Italy and Portugal but is currently getting his first taste as to what life towards the bottom of the league is like.
The same players that helped the club emphatically win the title last term have failed to replicate the same form this season, with the plight of Costa particularly noticeable given how crucial his goals were a year ago.
David Moyes’ Manchester United have so far been the worst team to ever defend the crown, but the Blues are in danger of eclipsing the Red Devils with their own calamitous title defence.
If they do struggle to arrest their slump, then Mourinho’s legacy may be tarnished by a disastrous season that could well damage his hopes of being considered the best manager in the country.
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