The Runner Sports

Chelsea Needs to Play Better at Home

Stamford Bridge has not been kind to Chelsea this season. After a hard-fought road win against Atletico Madrid last week, Chelsea had a home matchup with Manchester City last Saturday. It was another uninspiring home performance from the Blues, as Manchester City controlled long spells of the match en route to their 1-0 victory.

Not getting the results at home have been par for the course for Chelsea this season, which is shocking considering how dominating they were at home last season. In 19 home league games last season, Chelsea won 17 of those tilts, while losing only two.

But this new season has flipped that script a bit. In their four Premier League home matches, Chelsea have just one win to go along with two losses and one draw. They have looked lackadaisical and sloppy in these matches, atypical from what we saw last season. If they want to compete with the two Manchester clubs for the title, they need to start getting better results at home. Otherwise, they can soon wave goodbye to any chances of a repeat.

Poor Premier League Home Results

This all started with the first game of the season. Lowly Burnley bundled into the Bridge for what, on paper, was a mismatch. Chelsea was at home and celebrating their second title in three seasons. Opening at home against Burnley was a nice way to start the season with three points.

But not so fast. In the 14th minute, captain Gary Cahill saw a red card for a reckless challenge and was sent off. To say Chelsea did not respond well is an understatement. Burnley proceeded to score three goals and led 3-0 at halftime. Chelsea rebounded in the second half, but it was too little too late. Burnley held on for a 3-2 win.

Chelsea’s lone home win came against Everton, who have struggled mightily all season. They took care of them 2-0 in a very ho-hum affair. Chelsea did not need to do anything special to get this result other than show up against a nearly nonexistent opponent.

The last two home fixtures have come against top-6 quality clubs in Arsenal and Manchester City. On September 17th, they drew 0-0 to Arsenal in another dull home performance. They never showed any initiative to find a goal and seemed as though they were just going through the motions of playing a game. No intensity. No fight. An almost eager willingness to simply see out a draw. That sort of play runs counter to how Chelsea typically play at home, or in any match for that matter under manager Antonio Conte. He sets out to win every match. Just look at that road win in Madrid. They played to the final whistle looking for that decisive goal and got it. And if they didn’t get it, it was at least apparent they played that match on the front foot, instead of their back heels.

But it was at least a point against Arsenal. Could have been worse. Then cut to Saturday against Manchester City and it was worse. For the first 30 minutes things were going okay, but once Alvaro Morata left the game with an injury, the tide turned. Dramatically. Manchester City pressed Chelsea, who no longer had Morata up front to stretch the back line. They simply bumbled in the midfield and failed to muster any sort of cohesive attack.

It was only a matter of time before City found the back of the net. The only consolation is that it was a world-class finish from Kevin De Bruyne to give them that 1-0 lead. And I guess a second consolation for the single fact that they held to score to just 1-0. But dropping three points to Manchester City at home is not an ideal way to gain ground on Manchester City, who now sit six points ahead of Chelsea in the table.

Positive (Non-League) Home Results

These home woes, however, only pertain to the Premier League as of now. In the Champions League, they crushed Qarabag FK – a club from Azerbaijan – by a score of 6-0. The following week they thrashed Nottingham Forest 5-1 in the Carabao Cup. Granted. These are two weak opponents, but they dispatched of them in a fashion that was fitting for their talent level.

Speaking of their talent level, Chelsea started B+ teams in these matches. Young players like Michy Batshuayi, Charly Musonda, and Kenedy shined in starting roles. Perhaps it was their drive to show Conte they deserve more playing time that led to these better results, but whatever it was, they need to find that same sort of determination in their home matches moving forward.

Road Is Where The Heart Is

Strangely, in all competitions this season, Chelsea are 4-0-0 on the road this season outscoring their opponents 10-3. And two of these four matches have come against elite clubs. They defeated Spurs at Wembley by a score of 2-1 in the second match of the season. And the aforementioned 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League is a fantastic result.

They also went into Leicester City and Stoke City to grab wins. N’Golo Kante scored what ended up being the game winner against his former club in Leicester and Alvaro Morata netted his first Premier League hat trick in Stoke.

These four road wins saw a much different Chelsea club. A squad that played much more fluently and composed. Now, it is still early in the season, so panic should not be setting in. If they can find some of this road form and bring it to Stamford Bridge for the rest of the season, they will be right up there sniffing for another title. And if last season taught us anything about Chelsea football club, it is that they are okay with slow starts.

Matthew Golda

Dedicated New York sports fan. Chelsea FC writer at The Runner Sports.