Chelsea’s own mistakes led to a painful 0-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. The match, played under the sunshine, was far from a classic, with Mauricio Pochettino’s team eventually falling victim to The Tricky Trees due to an Anthony Elanga goal on the counter, following a match filled with persistent fouls. Scoring opportunities were scarce in the first half, and the best chance actually went to the visitors, as Taiwo Awoniyi sent his shot over the bar from just six yards away.
The second half began as a nightmare for CFC when Moisés Caicedo was dispossessed in midfield, allowing Awoniyi to set up Elanga for the goal that sealed their fate. The Blues’ attempts to come from behind were slow and ineffective, and Nicolas Jackson missed a crucial chance late in the game, summing up a dismal afternoon for the team.
Here are three Blues talking points from yet another disappointing match
Poch needs to change our shape
Despite playing at home against an opponent considered weaker in Premier League terms, Chelsea once again stuck with a five-at-the-back formation. Although they had more success with this system against Luton last weekend, the Blues encountered difficulties breaking down Nottingham Forest’s steadfast defense, which mirrored their own five defenders. The drawback of employing a back five against an ultra-defensive team is the challenge of consistently generating attacking opportunities, especially when lacking creative players on the field, as Chelsea experienced on Saturday afternoon. They failed to produce any significant scoring chances with five defenders in the lineup.
Some may argue that Poch is still playing with a flat back four, with Chilwell in the role of the left winger and Colwill/Disasi as the fullback pairings. Remember the saying, “Don’t fix something that isn’t broken”? Well, Poch needs to return to the 4-2-3-1 formation that was so successful during our preseason USA tour. Although it was preseason, that’s precisely the purpose of preseason: preparing for the regular season. What Chelsea’s gaffer did is the complete opposite.
Pochettino was compelled to abandon this pragmatic system midway through the second half while trailing, opting to introduce the more offensive-minded Cole Palmer and Noni Madueke. Many observers may believe that if Chelsea persists with this defensive approach, they will encounter difficulties dismantling resolute defenses and will need to exert more effort to secure points throughout the season.
Moisés Caicedo impressed despite how the media portrayed his performance
In his third start, Moises Caicedo delivered his most impressive performance yet, with just one notable error. Caicedo occupied a double pivot role alongside Conor Gallagher and effectively controlled the midfield for the majority of the match.
Caicedo demonstrated his presence across the field, executing crucial tackles to halt counter-attacks, relentlessly pressuring opposition players, and often positioning himself well to regain possession and initiate Chelsea’s attacks with his underrated passing abilities.
However, a misunderstanding with his partner, Gallagher, allowed Nottingham Forest to take advantage and score the decisive winning goal. While Caicedo wasn’t solely responsible for the mistake, he will need to enhance his synergy with his teammates to fully realize his immense potential. It also doesn’t help that Gallagher wasn’t particularly playing that well.
£1B spent at Chelsea to get the same results
Despite having spent £1 billion on signings since Todd Boehly and co took over, it appeared that the club encountered familiar issues that persisted from last season’s disappointment. Even after a massive summer window clear-out, CFC still couldn’t overcome Forest, a team that remains unbeaten against Chelsea since their promotion last season (with two draws and one loss). The Blues were uninspiring in the attacking third and found it challenging to trouble Forest throughout the afternoon. In fact, the home side managed just two shots on target.
Chelsea’s most promising opportunity of the game fell to Jackson. Sterling executed an impressive run to the by-line, delivering the ball back to the Senegal forward. However, Jackson leaned back and sent the ball over the crossbar. Apart from that chance, both Ben Chilwell and Sterling put in considerable effort but lacked the necessary quality in their finishing.