Chelsea’s Poor Pre-Season Form Raises Questions About Title Defence

Jose Mourinho appeared defiant after the Community Shield loss against Arsenal. It was a familiar 1-0 score but not in favour of Chelsea. Mourinho was probably beaten at his own game by Arsene Wenger, who claimed his first victory over the Portuguese boss. Community Shield results have rarely mattered over the course of the campaign, but there appears to be trouble within Chelsea going by the trend in the last few weeks. After the game against Arsenal, Mourinho said:

“This season the Premier League title is very difficult but it is very difficult for everyone. The way other teams are spending they have big power in the hands while we are the same as last season. And with that we are going to try.”

Looks like Mourinho is already coming up with excuses, but the blues have been involved in pre-season games against big teams like Paris St Germain, Barcelona, and Arsenal. The game against New York Red Bulls was probably seen as the only easy fixture for Mourinho’s team. However, failure to win all four matches raises significant questions ahead of the new Premier League season. The 2015-16 Premier League campaign for Chelsea starts with a home game against Swansea City.

Recent results suggest that the team is certainly not ready for a title defence. Defender Gary Cahill has dispelled those fears, stating that the team will be ready in time for the league season. Chelsea go into the new campaign as the defending champions – a status that they have not enjoyed for five years. Cahill said:

“Pre-season is purely about fitness. When the points are there to be played for from next weekend, that’s when we are at the business end.

“Pre-season is false in many ways — you’re changing the team, everyone’s getting minutes, everyone is trying to get fit and you’re training hard. You’re doing double training sessions before you play a game.

“We still have another week of that this week, before we get down to business against Swansea.”

Pre-season may just be about fitness, but it also can erode the team’s confidence with a consistent run of poor results. Chelsea cannot allow any slipups in the first few weeks of the campaign. Games against Manchester City, Everton, and Crystal Palace in the first five weeks of the season will be a stern test. A major factor in the club’s league success last season was the brilliant start to the season.

Aided by Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas’ impeccable form in the first few months, the blues dropped only four points in the opening 10 matches of last season. Those dropped points were in the games against the two Manchester clubs – City and United. It would be hard to replicate this form going by the current standards. Costa still does not appear to be 100% while Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao do not seem first choice quality.

A lot will depend upon Mourinho’s tactics in the opening few games. Certainly, the expectations have diminished following a poor pre-season.