A Season In Review: Chelsea


In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Check out the previous edition of this series here, featuring Brighton!

Transfer Windows

Chelsea’s transfer window is very hard to judge, considering how many players they brought in, the lack of players leaving the club, the positions these players played, and how poorly the team as a whole performed throughout the season.

In terms of departures, Timo Werner left to join RB Leipzig, Emerson went to West Ham, Jorginho made a surprise switch to Arsenal in January, young exciting prospect Billy Gilmour moved to Brighton, and Lukaku left on loan to Inter. All in all, not too many first-team players leaving, and not too much money coming into the club.

The money coming into the club did not matter, however, as the takeover of Chelsea provided them with the funds to go and spend as they wanted. Chelsea brought in Joao Felix and Denis Zakaria on loan from Athletico Madrid and Juventus. Former Arsenal man Aubameyang arrived from Barcelona, and exciting Carney Chukwuemeka arrived from Aston Villa.

Another trio of Premier League players made the switch to Chelsea. Raheem Sterling swapped light blue for dark blue as he arrived from Man City, Marc Cucurella made a big money move from Brighton, and Fofana made the switch from Leicester. Chelsea made a double defensive signing from the French league, as Malo Gusto signed from Olympic Lyon, and Badiashile transferred from Monaco.

The spending did not stop there either. Another centre-back joined Chelsea’s ranks, as Koulibaly joined, Noni Madueke signed from PSV to join Chelsea’s attacking players, alongside Mudryk, a player who desperately wanted to join Arsenal but decided on Chelsea instead. There was still more room for one more big-money signing, as Chelsea moved for World Cup winner and Benfica midfielder, Enzo Fernandez.

The quality of players Chelsea brought in is brilliant. They have brought in a mix of youth, experience, pace, skill and flair. When this team eventually clicks under the right manager, this side will be a force to be reckoned with. This transfer window, however, cannot be rated highly, as Chelsea failed to sign an out-and-out striker who could come in and score goals on a consistent basis. Yes, Chelsea signed Aubameyang, but he is 33, and only managed a single goal in the Premier League, not good enough for a team like Chelsea.

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Managerial Changes

Chelsea is a club renowned for changing their manager, no thanks to Roman Abramovich. This season was no different, under a different owner this time. Thomas Tuchel did not last very long into the season. He only managed 6 games of the Premier League season, and he did not start too badly. 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses.

The game that was deemed the last straw was their first Champions League group-stage game. An away game against Dinamo Zagreb ended in a 1-0 loss for Chelsea, and the board decided that was it. Tuchel got sacked the day after, on the 7th of September, and on the 8th, Graham Potter got announced as the new head coach.

He did turn around their Champions League misfortune, as he guided Chelsea through the group stage, but the results in the Premier League got worse. After recording wins in his first 3 Premier League games, Chelsea then only won once in 9 games, a run that saw them drift further and further away from the top 6.

With calls growing for Potter to receive the sack from Chelsea fans, the board decided to pull the trigger on the 2nd of April, a day after Potter lost 2-0 at home against Aston Villa. Bruno Saltor took over as caretaker manager for 4 days, during which he oversaw a draw with Liverpool before Frank Lampard returned to the club on an interim basis until the end of the season.

Despite Chelsea’s bad season, it got even worse. Lampard oversaw 9 games and had a possible 27 points to play for. His return? Just 5 points. A run of results that saw Chelsea drifting closer and closer to the bottom 3, rather than the top half of the table.

A string of bad managerial decisions has really hampered Chelsea’s season this year. Frank Lampard should never have returned to the club, especially after his last stint there. It was only ever going to spell trouble.

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Key Games

It is hard to decide where the turning point was in Chelsea’s season, as they never really got going after Tuchel left. Their 3-1 away win against Bournemouth under Lampard towards the end of the season effectively saved them from a relegation fight, but other than that it was their start to the season that really saved them.

For me, the turning point was that 1-0 loss in the Champions League in the first group stage game. Had they not reacted so rashly and sacked Tuchel, would they have had the season they did? I doubt it, I am convinced it would have been much better for them. He had won half of the Premier League games he had managed so far that season, so why would they sack him after one defeat in the group stage?

Other than that, Potter’s first Premier League game in charge, was a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace. Edouard took the lead after just 7 minutes for Palace, but Aubameyang scored his only goal for the club, and Gallagher scored in the 90th minute to give Potter a dramatic win.

That result then led to Chelsea winning their next two Premier League games and saw them finish the Champions League group stage unbeaten under Graham Potter. From there on it did all go downhill, but as mentioned previously, these early results saved Chelsea’s season in the end.

Cup Competitions

Champions League

Chelsea’s Champions League journey started off in the group stage against Dinamo Zagreb and lost 1-0 in what was Thomas Tuchel’s last game. Graham Potter fared much better, as his first game in the Champions League was a 1-1 draw at home against Red Bull Salzburg, Raheem Sterling scoring just after half time before Okafor levelled the game.

Chelsea then faced Milan at home, and recorded an impressive 3-0 win courtesy of goals from Fofana, Aubameyang and James, before completing a double over them in the reverse fixture. An early red card for former Chelsea man Tomori helped them ease to a 2-0 win, thanks to Jorginho and Aubameyang.

Chelsea then laboured to a 2-1 away win against Red Bull Salzburg. Kovacic gave Chelsea the lead before Adamu equalised just after halftime. Havertz scored just after the hour mark as Chelsea saw the game out. In their final group stage game, Chelsea faced Dinamo Zagreb at home and won 2-1. Petkovic gave the visitors the lead after 7 minutes, but Chelsea hit back through Sterling and Denis Zakaria to win 2-1, and Chelsea progressed to the knockout stages.

Chelsea was given a round-of-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund, with the away leg coming first. Adeyemi scored the only goal of the game as the Germans ran out 1-0 winners. In the second leg, Chelsea surprisingly turned it around. Sterling levelled the tie minutes before halftime, and Havertz won the game for them in the 53rd minute with a goal from the spot. Winning 2-1 on aggregate, Chelsea set themselves up a quarter-final showdown with Real Madrid.

Nobody expected Chelsea to get past Madrid, and Madrid made sure that Chelsea did not have a chance. They recorded convincing 2-0 wins in both the home and away legs to win 4-0 on aggregate. Benzema netted after just 20 minutes to open the scoring in the first leg, and Ben Chilwell’s red card did little to help Chelsea, as Asensio scored with 15 minutes to go to win the first leg 2-0.

The second leg was fairly simple for Madrid as well. Rodrygo scored twice in the second half, sending Chelsea crashing out, as Madrid progressed into the semi-finals.

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Carabao Cup

Chelsea’s performance in the Carabao Cup was essentially non-existent. They entered the competition in the third round, with a tie away against Man City. They turned up, hardly performed, and lost 2-0, courtesy of goals from Mahrez and Alvarez. The less said about their time in this competition the better.

FA Cup

If we thought Chelsea’s Carabao Cup run was bad, their FA Cup run was, technically, even worse. They got given yet another away game against Man City, this time losing 4-0. First-half goals from Mahrez, Alvarez and Foden essentially ended the tie before halftime. Mahrez added gloss to the score line making it 4-0, and Chelsea was sent crashing out in the first round again.

Season overall

Overall, it has been a very disappointing season for Chelsea. Being knocked out of both domestic cups at the first attempt by the same team, finishing closer to the relegation zone than the top 6. Achieving a bottom-half finish, playing the majority of the season with an out-and-out striker, and rehiring old managers who have performed poorly. The list is endless.

It has been bad decision after bad decision at Chelsea, and they need to get things right going into next season. If they have another poor season, it could be disastrous for them. Their players will not want to play for a club finishing around mid-table. They need to bring someone in who can gel the team together, bring in a striker who can score at least 20 a season, and fire them up the table.

Their Champions League campaign was probably the highlight of the season in all honesty. I do not think anyone expected them to get past Dortmund with the form Chelsea were in, so a quarter-final was probably a nice surprise for them.

They are not afraid to spend money, and that showed this season. They brought the right kind of players in, and they are looking at the future. They just need to start investing that money in the right places now. It will be interesting to see how they do next year.

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