With a slew of disappointing results since the end of November, Chelsea have seen their grip on a top-four place in the table loosen greatly. The team also narrowly progressed through the group stage of the Champions League, where they will be pitted against Bayern Munich in the coming weeks. Failing to score against West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton in a months’ span isn’t the way to go to advancing further OR retaining a Champions League place. January will be a crucial month for improvement to the roster and to individuals slumping in form. The following are 10 mistakes the club absolutely cannot afford to make.
#10. Prioritizing either Gabigol or Wilfried Zaha
Yes, Gabigol and Zaha are both great players in their own respects. But signing one as a marquee Chelsea signing this window? Not a good look. Chelsea could really use both of these players but there are better, younger, cost-effective, surefire players that are more ambitious signings than that of Gabigol and Zaha, namely Jadon Sancho and Timo Werner. However, if we sold Giroud, Batshuayi or Pedro, then these two players would be exceptional replacements for deadwood.
#9. Failing to straighten out the midfield
Right now, Chelsea’s midfield is grasping at straws and Frank Lampard ought to know it. Jorginho and Kante as of late have been uncharacteristically ineffective, and aside from Mateo Kovacic, the only real options that remain are Ross Barkley and Mason Mount; players who are traditionally #10s when playing in the central midfield. Mount has been a godsend out wide with his work rate and pressing and assuming he retains that role Frank will be marking his calendar for the day Ruben Loftus-Cheek returns from his Achilles injury. A loan signing should be in order at the very least.
#8. Allowing Cesar Azpilicueta to remain the starting right back
With the club having no real competence at left-back, it would be wise to return Cesar Azpilicueta to his maiden position at which he began at the club. He’s lackluster as an attacker but can stick in a goal at times. That means that Reece James and Tariq Lamptey, who are far more dynamic than the options at left-back, should form a formidable rotation on the right and continue rolling out their electrifying performances while Dave will hold down the left until improvements are made.
#7. Not fortifying the left back spot
Truthfully, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Azpilicueta finished the season as Chelsea’s starting left-back, but it is a point of concern. The captain in recent seasons has played an egregious number of games, which means he must be all over his fitness to be able to keep it up. However, Azpilicueta will turn 31 at the beginning of next season and that doesn’t bode well for Chelsea’s long term prospects on the left side. A signing could surely help but isn’t truly necessary until, maybe, the summer.
#6. Failing to sign Kalidou Koulibaly
There are few defenders in the world who can have a Virgil van Dijk impact on a team; Koulibaly is one of them. With his routine experiences with Italian racism and Napoli sitting eighth in Serie A with only six wins out of 17 games, the club may consider offloading the defender for the right offer. Chelsea are able to make that offer financially, and this may be our only chance at a deal. Koulibaly must be at the top of the board’s list of transfer targets.
#5. Handing Antonio Rudiger steady minutes
I get it, Rudiger is a leader at the back and he’s big and fast. As we’ve seen, however, Rudiger is a poor decision-maker with the ball and is a clumsy defender. He often forces himself into playing hoof-ball instead of making the simple pass or going back to Kepa. He should not be robbing minutes from the club’s younger, better defenders any longer.
#4. Breaking up the Zouma-Tomori partnership
Now that Rudiger returned from his injury, he was given plenty of game time in the wake of either Zouma or Tomori or even Christensen. At this point in the season, we can clearly establish that Zouma-Tomori is undoubtedly our best partnership at the back. If the two can remain healthy and continue to improve in their young age Chelsea will always have a chance at a clean sheet, especially when they’re in front of Kepa.
#3. Wasting money on another goalkeeper
Kepa hasn’t had his best season as a professional this year, it’s no secret. However, because the fans are aware that he has become an easy scapegoat when things don’t go our way. This is wrong and those responsible ought to know it. Kepa has quietly carried the team through many games, this year and last year. He’s also turned just 25 in October and will have seven years of his prime years to play still. It’s time to pull the plug on this rumor of selling Kepa.
#2. Continuing the club trend of bizarre business (or signing nobody at all)
Over the past few years, we have made the most random, unsuccessful transfer moves possible. We signed Morata over Lukaku, and randomly sold De Bruyne, Salah, Cuadrado, and Oscar. We are still seeking replacements for these talents to this day. And, while Chelsea can’t afford to not sign anyone, it would be equally detrimental to spend a fraction of the transfer funds on a player like Danny Drinkwater.
#1. Failing to revolutionize the attack
If Chelsea are to compete for the remainder of the season, they need reinforcements and BIG ONES. Willian and Pedro are now closer (very close) to the end of their careers rather than the beginning. They are also both not very good. If you look at the best clubs in the world, they all have electrifying front lines or attackers that will always give them a chance to beat their opponent. Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic have exceeded expectations this season, which has propelled the club to a spot where they have to decide whether to be ambitious or shoot for future development. They can do both. Captain America and Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham will (and have been) burnt out by the load they’ve had to carry this year. The board will need to be on their hands and knees for the signatures of players like Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho in order to remake the jump from a big club to an elite club once again.