Friday 19 January 2018

Is Chelsea’s title challenge over before it really begins?

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during the 3-1 defeat to Everton
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during the 3-1 defeat to Everton

Barry Lennon

Steven Naismith's hat-trick this afternoon ensured that Chelsea have picked up less than a point per game and already trail table-toppers Man City by 11 points.

The season may only be five games old, but already makes uncomfortable reading for the Stamford Bridge faithful, though the travelling fans at Goodison Park demonstrated their sense humour as they chanted, ‘we are staying up’ as the Toffees highlighted defensive jitters that have been evident from the season opener.

Relegation talk is of course a light-hearted, but already retaining their Premier League crown is becoming a tall order, though manager Jose Mourinho is naturally defiant.

“I am champion, the players are the champions, the way they are playing is not as bad as the results but in every single game things are going against us,” he said.

Read more: Jose Mourinho: I don't blame myself or the players for the worst results in my career

“We have to cope with it, football is about results. It's easy to say and I agree completely, but results are too bad.

"I don't blame my players and I don't blame myself. I don't accept the results, I am responsible for the team, I am not happy with the situation and I am not happy with myself.”

Already Mourinho's worst start to a season in his two spells as Chelsea manager, the Blues play their first Champions League game of the season in midweek against Maccabi Tel Aviv, before rivals Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge.

Read more: Steven Naismith hat-trick lifts Everton past champions Chelsea

"I have to prepare for next game," he added, when asked if Chelsea are still contenders for the title. "We depend on many things. Ourselves. But when you are eight, nine, 10, 11 points behind you have to wait for other results.

"But the next match [against Arsenal] we are candidates to win that match.

Winning is a habit the Blues seem to have forgotten of late.

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