LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 12: Enzo Fernandez of Chelsea FC reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on November 12, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
Chelsea is in 10th place after winning, drawing, and losing exactly four games each. The west London side has also gathered 16 points, scoring 21 goals and conceding 16. While that is a good attacking return after 12 games played, it is not a good defensive record. Despite this, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have conceded the joint-fourth fewest goals in the league. There are clearly many things Pochettino is doing right, considering that the Blues are creating 3.3 big chances per game and scoring 1.8 goals per game, but there are also things the former Tottenham Hotspur manager has done wrong. Here are three major things the Argentine has gotten wrong this season.
This one may be a strange point because Pochettino has abandoned the experiment, but actions have consequences, and dropped points matter, wherever they’re dropped. Chelsea played against Nottingham Forest, AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and Brighton & Hove Albion with Fernandez playing in the space behind the striker. In these games, the Argentine World Cup winner was underutilized, and his strengths were nullified. This ensured that even when he personally had a good game, he still didn’t help the team in the ways the team actually needed him to. Some Blues fans clamored for the former Benfica midfielder to play further forward last season, certainly expecting his long passing to translate directly to final-third chance creation. It did not.
The 22-year-old midfielder, in the above-mentioned stretch of games, occupied the wrong spaces and received the ball in the wrong areas. He even sometimes neglected his position to drop deep and help in the buildup, making it worse for the team because his position was vacant, and that hampered the attacking movement. CFC picked up one point from nine available, and when that tally comes from a stretch of games against Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, and Bournemouth, it inevitably affects how the table looks. After seven games, the Stamford Bridge occupants had the easiest fixture list out of all the teams in the league up until that point, but they were 15th. The Blues position in the table now is almost directly linked to that period, as the west London side has won three games and drawn two (since Fernandez was returned to central midfield), yet still find themselves in 10th place.