Chelsea are enduring a difficult period and have won just once in their last eight games across all competitions, with the club’s humbling FA Cup exit at Manchester City increasing the heat on the under-fire Graham Potter.
The Blues’ board are understood to be convinced that Potter is the right man for the role, but the Chelsea boss will need improvement from his squad if the west Londoners are to salvage their season.
Several big names have underperformed at Chelsea, whose significant recent investment has failed to provide the desired results to date.
Here are five Chelsea players who are massively underperforming this season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was brought back to the Premier League during the summer after a spell at Barcelona, as Thomas Tuchel looked to reunite with a forward who had shone under his management at Borussia Dortmund.
Despite a difficult end to his career at Arsenal, Aubameyang had impressed during six months in Spain as he scored 11 goals in just 13 league starts for the Catalans. Robert Lewandowski’s summer arrival made the 33-year-old surplus to requirements, with Chelsea securing a €12m deal to sign the Gabon international.
It hasn’t worked out.
Aubemeyang has scored only once in the Premier League and just three times in all competitions, while his disinterested cameo against Manchester City last week summarised his spell at Stamford Bridge to date.
😯 Ben White (18) has had more touches in the opposition box than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (13) in the Premier League this season. pic.twitter.com/4wAE279yQ1
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 9, 2023
Introduced as an early substitute for the injured Raheem Sterling, he was later withdrawn after an ineffective performance as Chelsea crashed to defeat. Three days later, he was omitted from the squad entirely as Chelsea faced City once again in the FA Cup third round.
Aubameyang’s performances have been below expectations, as he has struggled to make an impact in a Chelsea side short on creativity. No side in the top ten has scored less goals (20) than Chelsea this season, while the west Londoners rank 13th in the Premier League for xG this season.
He has had just 13 touches in the opposition penalty box in the Premier League so far this season, averaging just three per 90 minutes.
Kai Havertz is another who has struggled in Chelsea’s malfunctioning forward line, with the German having come in for criticism following a series of sub-standard performances.
Havertz arrived with a huge reputation from Bayer Leverkusen in 2020, but the £72m recruit has failed to live up to expectations. The winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final ensures Havertz retains credit in the bank, but more was expected from a talent regarded as one of Europe’s brightest at the time of his arrival at Stamford Bridge.
The 23-year-old is into his third season in the Premier League and the same questions remain from his initial arrival. Just where is his best position? Can he turn the flashes of terrific talent into consistent end product?
😖 Kai Havertz has been caught offside (15) more times than any other player in the Premier League this season
He has also managed fewer shots on target (12) than he has strayed offside in the Premier League this season pic.twitter.com/obF6BxDeWT
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 5, 2023
The answers appear no closer after an underwhelming start to the 2022/23 campaign, one which has seen Havertz score just four goals in 16 league appearances. He has 16 goals across his two-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League, less than he managed during the 2018/19 Bundesliga season at Leverkusen (17).
Three different managers have now tried and failed to bring the best from him on a consistent basis.
Relentless links to the Premier League finally came to fruition last summer as Kalidou Koulibaly signed for Chelsea.
The Senegalese centre-back has been linked with a move to England for several seasons, before completing a transfer to Stamford Bridge. His £33m capture was viewed as the marquee recruit in a Chelsea defence depleted by the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger.
However, there is a growing argument that Koulibaly’s move to the Premier League has come too late. The 31-year-old has failed to convince in a difficult adaptation to the division, often looking leggy. Ex-England manager Fabio Capello recently criticised the centre-back and claimed the defender had shown none of the personality his exhibited during eight seasons at Napoli.
“At Chelsea he has no personality,” Capello told Sky Sports Italy.
“When he has the ball at his feet he hesitates. He is not playing quickly, he does not do what he did at Napoli. At Napoli he commanded, he came forward, he made long passes, now he has the ball between his feet, he does not know who to pass it to and he always plays passes to someone only a few metres away.
“Actually, he is surprising me. I thought he had a great personality, and for Chelsea, he would be really important and explode straight away. And yet, at this moment, this is not him.”
The experienced defender endured a disastrous showing in the club’s FA Cup exit to Manchester City after an error-prone performance. Bashir Humphreys outperformed his centre-back partner on debut, as the teenager completed made more passes (86) at a higher completion rate (94%) than Koulibaly (68 at 79%), won all his tackles (Koulibaly won none), and committed no fouls (Koulibaly conceded two – including a penalty).
Signed as a leader of the side, he has instead failed to provide an authoritative presence. That both Rudiger (29) and Christensen (26) were allowed to leave for free with an ageing Koulibaly (33) as their replacement looks bad business.
Marc Cucurella was another who arrived as part of Chelsea’s record-breaking summer spend, as the west Londoners agreed a £62m deal for the Brighton left-back.
Cucurella had spent just one season with the Seagulls, but had impressed at the Amex Stadium. The 24-year-old created 40 goalscoring chances from open play last season with only Reece James (42) managing more among Chelsea players, while defensively only Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell made more tackles (104) among Premier League defenders than the Spaniard (93) in 2021/22.
There’s been little of the impressive all-action displays that saw Cucurella win a clean sweep at Brighton’s Player of the Season awards however, as the left-back has looked uncomfortable on occasion at Stamford Bridge.
He was targeted during the recent Premier League defeat to Manchester City and even the arrival of ex-Brighton boss Graham Potter has failed to revive his fortunes.
"He can't defend" 👀
Jamie Carragher and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink debate a difficult day for Marc Cucurella 😬 pic.twitter.com/1VWtDZ2Yof
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 5, 2023
Just one player in the Chelsea squad has been dribbled past on more occasions than Cucurella this season (13), while his numbers at both ends of the pitch are underwhelming. He has averaged just 0.6 interceptions, 0.4 chances created, and 0.3 successful dribbles per game this season, statistics which rank him 13th in the Chelsea squad on each metric.
Given his inflated fee and the presence of Ben Chilwell, admittedly absent at present through injury, it is difficult to see sensible business in this deal right now. Meanwhile, Brighton continue to go from strength to strength with Pervis Estupinan thriving since his £14.9m arrival as Cucurella’s replacement.
Jorginho’s future is uncertain as the midfielder enters the final six months of his deal at Chelsea, but recent performances have done little to convince the club to extend his contract.
The Italy international has been poor in recent fixtures, where his lack of athleticism has been exposed as Chelsea have been overran in midfield. Jorginho has forged his reputation on technical talent and an ability to control the tempo of games, but his off-the-ball impact has been exploited in disappointments against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City.
Former Chelsea defender Frank Lebouef blasted the current squad this week and singled out Jorginho for criticism.
“Shameful, really shameful,” Leboeuf told ESPN at half-time of the FA Cup defeat to City.
“I’ve never seen Chelsea so low in terms of willing, they don’t have the will, they don’t have the guts, they don’t have the courage to fight for the colours, they don’t have pride.
“I see players prove nothing, they show disrespect towards the fans and the club. I don’t know what Kai Havertz is doing, he’ll be on record for scoring in the Champions League final, but what else?
“Mason (Mount), yes, I love him, he’s a guy from the club, but come on, he has to do something.
“I’m not even going to talk about Jorginho. I don’t know what Jorginho is still doing on the field.”
Jorginho is not alone in a midfield that has floundered this season, with Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher all disappointing. The latter has failed to prove he belongs at the top level since his return from a successful loan at Crystal Palace last season.
Read – Squad Analysis: Why Graham Potter needs time to mould Chelsea’s muddled team
Read Also – Iconic Performances: The memorable night in the San Siro when Bale announced his genius
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