Chelsea half-term report - Inconsistent? But ready to strike?

Here we look at Chelsea's start to the season as they enjoy a second spell under Jose Mourinho.

Prediction at the start of the season

We expected them to be right in the thick of the title race and finish no lower than second, with many of us thinking they could lift the title in Jose Mourinho’s first season back at the helm at Stamford Bridge.

How have they been so far?

Inconsistent in their performance level, but they are lurking ominously in the title race so it would be foolish to write them off. Their home form has been near faultless – the 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion the only blot on that copybook to date and as Mourinho tries to regenerate this Chelsea side there have been some poor performances, but they’re doing enough to let the rest of the league know they can strike at any moment. Their away form has been patchy and they have looked vulnarable

Manager rating?

7/10. A solid return for Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. He’s managed to keep his side in the title picture and guided the side to the knockout stages of the Champions League whilst the first team is undergoing some changes. However, some may have been a little bewildered over his handling of Juan Mata at the start of the season, and allowing Romelu Lukaku to leave the club on loan.

Best game they’ve been involved in?

Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea. A pulsating match which saw Chelsea given the odd scare by Sunderland but they won through in the end thanks to a brilliant display from Eden Hazard - even if the defending from both sides did leave something to be desired. 

Their stand-out player?

Oscar seemed to thrive in the early stages of the season under Mourinho and was the centre of a lot of their good attacking play. Ever since Hazard was given a ticking off for missing training and forgetting his passport his performances have gone up a gear and he is finding the net more frequently, along with coming up with that killer pass to unlock the opposition defence.

New signings – how are they getting on?

Schurrle has perhaps made the biggest impact and has looked a very good goal threat, and has brought a degree of flexibility to the Chelsea squad. De Bruyne has been in and out of the side but has shown signs of being a fairly neat and tidy player, Marco van Ginkel unfortunately suffered a season ending injury. Samuel Eto'o has shown flashes of his quality but more is required of him, whilst Willian's work ethic has stood out so far.

Most significant win of the season?

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City. The first meeting between the pre-season favourites to lift the title and it looked as if Chelsea struck a crucial blow in their quest to lift the title after a Joe Hart error ultimately decided the game. Chelsea looked in control for much of the game and took the lead in the first half thanks to a Schurlle tap in before Sergio Aguero equalised after the half time break. A mix up between Nastasic and Hart allowed Torres to score the winner.

Their low point so far?

Stoke 3-2 Chelsea. It was a case of the away day blues continuing for Mourinho's men. Having led early on through Schurlle they were pegged back and eventually fell behind, before Schurrle levelled the game up again. It looked as if it was going to end in a draw until Oussama Assaidi's strike meant the Blues were left empty handed. 

Where do they need to strengthen in January?

A lot has been mentioned about Chelsea's strikeforce of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba not being up to scratch, especially with a certain centre-forward doing pretty well for himself on loan at Everton, so don't be surprised if Mourinho looks to strengthen in that area in the transfer window. A central defender may also be on the cards but you'd think there is enough at the club to last them until the end of the season.

What can we expect from them for the rest of the season?

Chelsea will be challenging for the title, no matter what Mourinho says about the top four to take the heat off the players. It's just a case of them finding that consistency. If they don't have a trophy in the cabinet come May it will be a disappointment.

images: © Jason Bagley, © Tom Cuppens

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