TORONO — It was evident on Monday that Chelsea’s terrible goalkeeping performance was starting to turn from a recurring storyline to a source of mockery as a Domino’s pizza truck pulled up beside Craven Cottage in the lead-up to the match.
In an obvious (but possibly true) PR ploy, Dominos put up a digital billboard that displayed the number of pizzas they had sold in the five weeks since Chelsea’s last Premier League goal. There were almost ten million at that point. Though it was amusing and perhaps a little schadenfreude for the opposition supporters, more conventional statistics regarding Chelsea’s goal drought made for more depressing reading.
Even though the Blues created opportunities, Chelsea had not won in the league since a 3-0 victory against struggling Premier League Luton in August, going into Monday’s home matchup with rivals Fulham. Only Burnley recorded fewer goals than Chelsea, who tied for second place in the Premier League with five goals. Chelsea’s shooting conversion rate of 5.5% was the lowest of any side, as they failed to score on their previous 49 shots on goal.
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Chelsea has continued to be a side that creates chances but rarely scores, much like the team played under Graham Potter, who was finally fired. They defeated Brighton in the EFL Cup last week, winning by a slim margin of 1-0. The main goal for Monday was to end the Premier League’s impasse.
Chelsea accomplished that at last on Monday, contributing to a much-needed 2-0 victory that will be greatly relieving. The fact that it originated from winger Mykhailo Mudryk will also be comforting.
In a transaction that may have cost up to €100 million, Mudryk joined Chelsea in January of last year as a symbol of their continued appeal.
However, during the course of his 23 subsequent appearances, he turned into the face of the high-profile type of pricey signing who fell short at Stamford Bridge.
the manager of Chelsea, recently attributed Mudryk’s mistakes to a psychological issue and a lack of confidence. To address this, he decided to play a game of crossbar challenge against his winger.
During a press conference following the game, Pochettino responded, “It is about maturity,” when asked why he kept selecting Mudryk despite his recent poor play. It requires time.
When he came, the team underwent a significant transition, and it is never easy to fit in when you are new to a group. When a team has too many young players, it is not cohesive.”
Pochettino continued, “He demonstrated in his training sessions that he deserved [the opportunity to play].”
On Monday, Mudryk’s turning point arrived after eighteen minutes. The Ukraine winger gave Chelsea’s custodian Bernd Leno a rare display of calm as he chested down a cross from defender Levi Colwill and finished calmly to score his first goal of the season.
“The key is to give the young guys a design and a strategy that will help them feel confident in themselves and at home,” stated Pochettino. “They must have a sense of belonging to this club, just like everyone else. It all comes down to finding the proper people who can assist and [giving them] time.”
Right after the goal,
everything got even better. Similar to the proverbial “You wait for ages and then two come at once” regarding buses in London, Chelsea scored another goal a few seconds later.
This time, Cole Palmer took advantage of a careless pass from Tim Ream of Fulham to slide a pass through to Armando Broja, who almost missed completing the quick-fire double. Though it wasn’t as attractive, the objective was still there.
“We are motivated;
even in the early part of the season, when we were losing and didn’t win, we maintained our composure and faith,” Pochettino continued. Although we have won two games in the past two days, we always aim to improve and increase our players’ confidence and belief because they must sense that.
Despite Monday’s triumph, Chelsea’s problems are far from over. They still have to put in more effort before they can say they’ve turned the corner.
Even with Broja missing an early chance after rounding Leno and Enzo Fernández missing a tempting one-on-one opportunity in the second half, Pochettino’s team was still lacking a bit of bite in front of goal. Despite his well-taken goal, Mudryk did not perform well on the left and was substituted at halftime due to a quad injury. The lack of flair and individuality required to deliver performances that are consistently good should also be a source of concern.
Not to mention the matter of the club’s league standing. They’re still only one point behind Manchester United in 11th position even after this victory, so Chelsea’s struggle will only become harder.
It may be said that Chelsea has squandered clear opportunities to gain points early in the season, losing on the road to West Ham and Nottingham Forest and drawing 0-0 with Bournemouth.
The schedule is going to get much more difficult: Chelsea will first have to travel to Burnley, after which they will have a difficult stretch of games at home against Brentford, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, Newcastle, Brighton, and Manchester United.
“In football, you have to be prepared for everything at all times,”stated Pochettino. “The match this Saturday [against Burnley] will be difficult as well. After two wins, it’s crucial for the players to feel encouraged, but we’ll keep working.”
But such anxieties can all wait until another day. Chelsea ended their impasse on Monday, which stopped a concerning decline in the league. That is not something to be laughed at.