Chelsea Lacked Motivation And Imagination

If Manchester United get a kicking for 81 crosses (and they did) then Chelsea deserve some criticism for a lazy performance that included ten long-distance shots...

Last Updated: 11/02/14 at 23:14 Post Comment

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Jose Mourinho blamed his defenders for defending too deep ("We start playing with defenders in our box and that's not our style") but Mourinho knows more than enough about player psychology to understand that a slender 1-0 lead coupled with tiredness inevitably leads to retreating defenders. It will be David Luiz who gets the blame from media and Mourinho alike, but it's the players further up the pitch that should be held responsible for two dropped points.

Manchester United received lashings of disdain for their limited tactics against two banks of Fulham players on Sunday and Chelsea should be given at least a dollop of the same treatment for their lack of imagination when faced with a West Brom side whose first-half ambition was merely to keep Chelsea out of their box. The Blues' response was lazy and largely consisted of long-distance strikes. They got a barely deserved goal through a set-piece just before the break and then crossed their collective arms as if the job had been done.

Perhaps their ten-match unbeaten run had given them the impression that they merely needed to turn up to collect all three points against a side in the relegation zone; perhaps they were under instructions to conserve their energy for Saturday's FA Cup clash with Manchester City; whatever the reason, this was poor. Willian was the only member of their much-vaunted attacking midfield trio who emerged with any credit. Eden Hazard started brightly, faded and then wasted the chance to make it 2-0 with some poor decision-making. And if Mourinho really does want to build a team around Oscar, he needs to find the September incarnation of the Brazilian first.

It seems remarkable that Chelsea never looked massively motivated for a game that offered the tangible reward of a four-point lead at the top of the table. It was all a bit lackadaisical. Mourinho said they lacked "personality", but a sense of purpose rather than a sense of humour would have beaten West Brom. If Chelsea have designs on winning the title - and whatever the nonsense that comes out of Mourinho's mouth, they undoubtedly do - then they have to turn up for upcoming away trips to Fulham, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace with a better attitude and a bigger box of tricks. There has to be a plan for when Hazard has an off-day.

The worry for Chelsea fans is that their toothless performance came with their most effective attacking players on the pitch. While Manchester City toiled at Norwich, at least they could point to the absence of Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho, but this was Chelsea's A Team, with John Terry their only absentee. You could argue that they would have held out to win 1-0 with their captain on the pitch, but he would not have solved the problem of two-thirds of their 15 shots coming from outside the box.

Credit is certainly due to Pepe Mel for a series of substitutions that earned West Brom a point and the Baggies' series of 1-1 draws against Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool and now Chelsea certainly suggest that - at home at least - they boast an enviable resistance. But a team who can go to Manchester City and win 1-0 should not look content to grind out the same result at West Brom.

Sarah Winterburn

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