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Chelsea mid-season SWOT analysis - 2nd Edition: Weaknesses

As the first half of the season wraps up and the dust settles, Here we take a look at the weaknesses discovered from the Chelsea team du...

As the first half of the season wraps up and the dust settles, Here we take a look at the weaknesses discovered from the Chelsea team during this first half of fixtures.

1. The Defence:

Chelsea’s major weakness is the defence, they have conceded 28 goals, the third most of any side in the top half of the premier league table. That is a bad record for an aspiring top 4 contender to have. Apart from a couple of poor individual errors from the defenders, the team structure defensively has been bad at times, lack of concentration and communication has been the main issues, giving time and space to opposition attackers to have high-quality scoring chances, the funny part of it is Chelsea has conceded the 2nd least shots per game in the premier league this season with 8.8, just after Manchester city with 8.0. Chelsea concedes fewer shots but those shots conceded tend to be high-quality chances, big chances as it is seen in the statistics. Some solutions proposed to the club are:

  • Getting a new Central defender in the January transfer window
  • Finding the best Centre back partnership between the 4 senior centre backs at the club
  • Getting a new left-back
  • Sorting the midfield shape

The defensive phase of the team needs to improve in the second half of the campaign to give the team more chances of qualifying for the champions league.

2. Set pieces:

This involves to parts to it, defending setpieces and scoring setpieces.

  • Defending Set-Pieces: Chelsea’s main Achilles heel this season, especially at the beginning of the season is their inability to defend setpieces which have been a major issue since the beginning of the season. The perceived problem at the early stages of the season was Chelsea’s use of zonal marking to defend setpieces, which caused a lot of problems to Chelsea because the players hardly took enough responsibility to protect their zones during set-pieces, they kept getting outmuscled by stronger opponents and failed to consistently pick up their man in their zone, the thing is most clubs don’t just use zonal marking anymore, they use a blend of zonal and man-marking. That way, some players protect the zones and the rest man-mark opponents to have better control of the opponents.
  • Scoring Setpieces: This has also been a weakness of the team this season, sometimes it’s the quality of the crosses that causes it but it’s mainly the quality of the team’s heading that fails to be good enough to score, the team has only scored 1 setpiece header this season, against Lille at home in the champions league. Another area that would have to do with improving

3. Team mentality:

This is an issue that has plagued this Chelsea team for several years now,  Mourinho, Conte, Sarri, now Lampard has highlighted it also. It was more clear recently when Kurt Zouma mentioned it saying “For the big matches, the motivation is already there… for the other matches at home, maybe we are less motivated.”. That is not a sign of a big club if you don’t give respect to an opponent, not too much respect but enough to take every game seriously. It was obvious against Bournemouth, Southampton and Westham at home, and Lampard called it “personality” and “taking risks” too. The sooner we fix up this mentality the better position we would find our selves in these games against smaller opponents.

4. Breaking down Low blocks(lack of creativity):

This is an image of the Premier league’s top creators in open play, including Open play key, passes, expected assists and Open play assists. It sums up the problem at Chelsea this season, a lack of creator. The leading creator at the club from open play according to all those metrics which are used to define a creative player is Cesar Azpilicueta the club captain and a Right back, hardly known for his attacking phase, lest even his creativity, which shows that a true creator is currently lacking at the club. 

In terms of current personnel, the attacking players are not doing enough to create good goalscoring chances for the striker. The glaring examples of it were evident during our home fixtures against West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton. What those sides have in common is that they all came to Stamford Bridge intending to defend compactly in a low-block, allowing us time on the ball where we can't hurt them, starving us space to have a free go at their goal. 

Chelsea has struggled to provide answers to a deep low-block which they mostly face at home in the premier league, Frank Lampard has been very vocal and frustrated with the team failing to move the ball fast enough and failing to “take risks” to break down opposition low blocks. This is a major issue that has resurfaced in recent weeks, players like mason mount, Willian, Pulisic, Jorginho, Callum Hudson-Odoi (although played very limited minutes) and the fullbacks are all responsible for creating chances for the team in Lampard's system, although some of them are young and are still developing, they would have to develop that area of their game quickly to jeopardize the team's place in the champions league. 

The main chance creators in an ideal Lampard team are the wingers because they come inside and become inside forwards, and the CAM, Mason Mount also responsible for this and also providing movement in the final third. His improvement in this area is key if Chelsea is going to unlock tight defences in the premier league. Another problem the team is lacking concerning this is ball-playing centre backs. The centre backs recently for most of those games, Rudiger and Kurt Zouma lack ball-playing ability of the required ilk to help break a team down with passes in between the lines to find the inside forwards, or the CAM, or to play accurate diagonals or through-balls to assist in breaking teams down like Liverpool Centre back Virgil van Dijk, Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld and Arsenal’s David Luiz a former Chelsea player did quite a lot last season for Chelsea. 

Lastly, the fullbacks are responsible for creating goalscoring chances for Lampard's team through crosses and cutbacks, of which the quality is lacking from most of our full-back options. Only Reece James is a consistent threat from wide areas with his fantastic crossing ability, which we usually fail to capitalize on a lot of the time. Reece James also needs to play more to give us a better chance against low-block sides.

Written By: @SeunMobolaji


  1. Definitely did not know Azpi was our most creative player 😬