As we said in our Chelsea FC versus Newcastle United match preview articles, the Magpies will win, and when they do, it won’t be an upset. (We even called the final score exactly). The Geordies bested the Blues, at their place nonetheless, 1-0 in a match that feels like a changing of the guard in the top four.
Newcastle will be in the top four at Christmas time for the first time in two decades. Chelsea will be outside the top four, during the festive fixtures period, for just the third time in the last 21 years.
This result today gave off the vibes of one club saying to the other- “hey, we’re taking your UCL berth next year, whether you like it or not.
At St. James’ Park, they are riding high, sitting third and just two points behind reigning juggernaut Manchester City.
At Chelsea FC they are in nothing short of crisis mode right now, as they will enter their Boxing Day clash against Bournemouth not just outside the Champions League qualification slots, but below even the Europa League, and even the UEFA Conference League qualifying positions.
Graham Potter got off to a hot start, rolling to an undefeated in his first nine run of form. Then his former club, Brighton & Hove Albion, crushed them 4-1 a couple of weeks ago, and they only won once, in four matches, since.
That run included an elimination from the League Cup, at the hands of Manchester City, in midweek.
The Blues have only won twice in their last eight, and they’ll enter the World Cup break no higher than eighth, and potentially ninth, in the table.
“We can’t do anything about it [the break] and we have to use it as a positive,” Graham Potter said about now having six weeks off, at a time when his side has lost four of the last five.
“We’ll have a couple of players back [from injury] and we can use the time to refocus, reflect and get ready for the second half of the season.
“There’s a lot of football to play, a lot of learning that’s happened over the last eight weeks and the break, we’ll have to use it as positively as we can.”
Graham Potter can only do so much, he’s working with what he was given, a roster that was constructed with a confusing, disjointed summer transfer window approach (which we said at the time on deadline day).
Todd Boehly did not know what he was doing in that regard, and it is really hurting this team right now.
And of course, you have a lot of injuries to really key players at the southwester London club right now (Wesley Fofana, N’Golo Kante, Reece James among others).
But at the end of the day, there is still a ton of talent on this roster. Name any other club where you would have both the most expensive German player ever (Kai Havertz) and the most expensive American ever (Christian Pulisic) riding the pine.
Also, maybe it’s time for Potter to ditch his allegiance to the wing back position/playing forwards in that wing back role.
It seems so simple- making attackers play defensively is a poor idea, right?
Then there is Mason Mount, who was bad today, he had to be subbed off. Mount has to be one of the most overrated players in the Premier League, and the stats verify that assertion.
It’s not all the fault of Mount, or Potter, or Boehly, as there are plenty of other scapegoats to go around, as this is just a mess, through and through.
It’s a squad in crisis right now, with the holiday season fast approaching.
It won’t be a Merry Christmas at Stamford Bridge.
State of the Clubs at the World Cup Break Series
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Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”