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Out of the Blue?


Until late October it appeared that Chelsea were definite contenders for trophies on all four fronts, if not the front-runners. However, over the last few weeks you cannot help but draw parallels with Carlo Ancelotti’s final year with the Blues during the 10/11 season.

Although still second in the Barclays Premier League, second in Champions League Group E, still in the Captial One Cup at the expense of Man Utd and yet to embark on their defence of the FA cup, Chelsea must avoid a slump similar to that of Ancelotti’s last season with the club. Current circumstances suggest that could be difficult.

In October 2010, Chelsea started to show signs of a slump with a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa. Despite this they remained 5 points clear at the top of the league. What followed can most definitely be defined as a slumo. Having previously only lost to Manchester City, come November the Blues lost to Liverpool, ironically thanks to Fernando Torres’ -their future signing – brace, then experience two shock defeats, first a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, then a 1-0 loss to Birmingham at St. Andrews. All of this came under the backdrop of the sacking of Ray Wilkins as Ancelotti’s assistant manager; an event that many commentators have cited as a catalyst for their winter slump. Chelsea went on to make a strong challenge for the title towards the business end of the season, however poor results at bottom club Wolves, a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa and another loss to Liverpool meant that they had left themselves too much to do. Despite gutsy wins against Man Utd and Spurs in the spring, the Blues finished the season with an empty trophy cabinet. Come May, Roman Abramovich decided that Ancelotti was to be sacked, his double winning heroics the previous season being ignored in favour of the enigmatic Portuguese coach Andre Villas-Boas. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Roman.

AVB’s successor, Roberto Di Matteo, and his team will hope that history doesn’t repeat itself, however parallels between the current season andAncelotti’s last can certainly be drawn. Following a barn storming start to the season, with new signings Oscar and Eden Hazard seemingly bringing out the best in October’s BPL Player of the Month Juan Mata, Chelsea appeared as certain title contenders. The acrimonious defeat to Man Utd at Stamford Bridge signalled their first defeat of thisPremier League season however, and came after a shock defeat in the Donbass Arena to an under-rated Shakthar Donetsk side. What followed was a poor performance and draw at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. These results also come under the backdrop of controversy, akin – if not more damaging – to Ray Wilkins sacking. John Terry’s four match ban, alongside on-going allegations made against Mark Clattenburg, have seen Chelsea’s status off the pitch questioned and will have undoubtedly have had an effect on their performances on it. What Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea’s players and fans alike will hope is that their entertaining Capital One Cup revenge on Man Utd and Victor Moses’ midweek winner against Shakthar will help maintain their good form from the start of the season, helping to avoid a similar slump to two seasons ago.

Aaron Benmore