Chelsea were held by an inspired Watford in an impressive 2-2 draw at the Stamford Bridge on Saturday night. The defending Champions were wasteful in front of goal once again as they failed to score a match decider and the disappointing result demonstrated that there are no quick-fixes for the struggling defending champions.
Guus Hiddink made an instant impact the last time he took charge of the Blues as he led them to five consecutive victories after replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009. However, he must have realized that sailing is not as smooth as was in the past.
The Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa scored his first brace since January last season. However, the optimism around the Bridge shattered after Oscar missed an 80th minute penalty to win the match for his new boss.
Despite winning their first game after Jose’s departure against a lowly Sunderland (with Steve Holland in charge), the Stamford Bridge outfit failed to get the better of High Flying Watford.
Diego Costa opened the scoring for the Blues with an innovative finish in the 32nd minute, but the Chelsea defense were left vulnerable when a crazy Nemanja Matic handball resulted in a penalty and Troy Deeney faced no problem in converting the opportunity from the spot by sending Thibaut Courtois to the wrong side.
The second half displayed, even more, carelessness from the Blues as they failed to close down Ighalo, who went on to score Watford’s second goal 10 minutes later. Gary Cahill’s failure to close him down quickly in addition to an unfortunate deflection meant that Courtois had no chance to prevent the ball from finding the net.
Chelsea’s failure to close down their opponents has hurt them in almost all the matches this season. Blues have conceded two or more goals 11 times in 18 Premier League games this season compared with five such incidents last season.
Moreover, the central midfield has increased Hiddink’s problems. Cesc Fabregas has failed to challenge the opponents in defense. The Spaniard failed to create a single chance during his time on the pitch and didn’t contribute defensively, either, with the stats showing he made no successful tackles, interceptions or clearances. He was so poor in the first half that Hiddink decided to take him off at half-time.
Matic has been nowhere near his usual best and John Obi Mikel is yet to impress in his limited first-team opportunities at the club. Despite his pace and hard work, Ramires has also failed to fill the gap ahead of back four. These players need to play to their usual best if they want to save their season.
Oscar’s lack of confidence was evident from his penalty kick miss whereas Pedro is still shooting his shots over the bar.
Willian is also struggling to make things happen on his own, whereas last season’s player of the year, Eden Hazard, has failed to hit the target even once.
All this was expected to change drastically after the Chelsea board fired Jose Mourinho, but it looks as if the Blues are still miles away from their usual dominating self.
The only change to witness in the two games under new boss has been efforts by Costa. The underfire striker is displaying the Never give up attitude that lacked under Mourinho. He led the team from the front and helped them show the kind of reaction that they were missing under the Portuguese.
However, this was just one positive that Hiddink managed to deliver. There are still a lot of wrongs that he must right. He has a plenty of work to do if he wants to make his return successful. Moreover, the crowd needs to support Hiddink if they still want something from this season.