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A billion euros spent but dumped in the Premier League: where are Chelsea really?

Bordeaux and Saint-Étienne were relegated, Lyon settled in the soft underbelly, AC Milan experienced a lean period and Barça almost collapsed under debt.

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A billion euros spent but dumped in the Premier League: where are Chelsea really?

Bordeaux and Saint-Étienne were relegated, Lyon settled in the soft underbelly, AC Milan experienced a lean period and Barça almost collapsed under debt. As we have seen, in Europe, no major club is safe from downgrading. Chelsea, one of the faces of English and international football after its takeover in 2003 by Roman Abramovich, is a new example. The massive investments since Todd Boehly took power (June 2022) are struggling to translate into results.

Let's say it straight away: this season, everything is not to be thrown away at Chelsea. The Blues only failed after extra time in the League Cup final against Liverpool on February 25 (0-1). They are still in contention in the FA Cup, where they will face Manchester City in the semi-final (April 20). They are not far from getting their hands on a trophy, the first since the Club World Cup in February 2022. A period so close and so far away, crowned with an unexpected Champions League (2021), ended by the dismissal unceremoniously from Thomas Tuchel.

Where the problem lies is in the championship. Chelsea are 12th in the Premier League. By winning their late match against Manchester United, they would come within five points of 6th place, qualifying for the Europa Conference League play-offs. Not enough to blow your mind, but it would already be a return to the continental scene. Beyond the results, the London team showed strong inconsistency in the game.

The statistics brandished by coach Mauricio Pochettino illustrate this. Chelsea is the 4th team in the number of expected goals per match. She scored 48 goals, and “should have” scored 54, an underperformance of -6. In comparison, Arsenal, 2nd in the standings, outperformed by 9.7. Same failure in defense: 42 expected goals conceded, 47 goals conceded. “The supporters don't realize, the players are so young,” justified Pochettino, slipping that some of them may not have slept before the final against Liverpool at Wembley.

In March, Pochettino wanted to be offensive in the face of “unfair” criticism, according to him. “People don’t want to listen,” said the former PSG coach. I tried to explain, I speak, I move my mouth, but you don't listen. Today, it’s a different Chelsea” from the one that has piled up titles for a long time. The Argentinian speaks the truth. He finds it difficult to accept the impatience linked to investments: more than a billion euros for player transfers since Boehly, a 50-year-old American businessman, bought the club.

Are Chelsea really moving forward? Pochettino swears yes. The two draws against Manchester City this season, including one that Chelsea almost won, are arguments. The draw at a diminished Brentford on March 2 (2-2) and that against Burnley, reduced to ten before half-time on March 30 (2-2), suggest the opposite.

“As long as you don't have people to count on, that is to say experienced players, you can't build anything,” complained former Londoner Frank Leboeuf to ESPN. Frank Lampard, top scorer in the club's history, defended Pochettino in the JOE podcast on YouTube. “We knew it would be hard, there are young players looking for their place,” declared the man who came to the aid of his favorite club on the bench at the start of 2023, after a first stint in the semi-finals. shade (2019-21).

Will the Blues review their transfer window strategy to take a step forward? One of the latest rumors concerns Leny Yoro, an 18-year-old Lille defender. “We just have to let the process develop and give ourselves time to go from being incredible individual players to being a team,” Boehly said recently.

A victory against Manchester United this Thursday (9:15 p.m.) would virtually bring Chelsea within two points of the Red Devils and this famous top 6. And would make us forget the whistles heard in February at Stamford Bridge. “Maybe if I was a supporter and I was in the stands, I would behave the same way as them because it's Chelsea and we are not living up to expectations,” Pochettino said at the time. Just over two months left to answer them.

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