Inside Track: Chelsea
We take a look at Chelsea with a journo that sees them every week
Before every game this season evertonfc.com will be speaking to a journalist that regularly watches our upcoming opponents in action to get the 'Inside Track.' With Premier League Champions Chelsea next up for Everton we speak to the London Evening Standard's Chelsea reporter Simon Johnson What have you made of Chelsea's recent run of form? One win in five is the worst spell under Carlo Ancelotti.
With Premier League Champions Chelsea next up for Everton we speak to the London Evening Standard's Chelsea reporter Simon Johnson
What have you made of Chelsea's recent run of form? One win in five is the worst spell under Carlo Ancelotti.
It's not just the worst period under Ancelotti but the whole of the Roman Abramovich era which has come as a shock to everyone, not just Chelsea fans, but everyone in the Premier League because no-one saw this coming.
One win in five and struggling to score goals, it's been a real surprise.
How significant has the absence of John Terry, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard been to Chelsea's poor form?
I think that's obviously a significant factor when you have a number of key players missing.
But at the same time the players they put out there should be good enough to get better results than they have been getting.
Obviously Didier Drogba has been on the pitch but the effects of having malaria haven't worn off yet. He hasn't scored a goal in the league since the beginning of October and he's a key player.
If you haven't got Drogba and Lampard's goals there was always a worry with Chelsea about where the goals would come from. Over the years between them they've got on average 40-50 goals a season.
Chelsea haven't been taking their chances particularly well in the last two games against Birmingham and Newcastle. They've missed some very good opportunities.
Also defensively John Terry is missing and some of their defending has been terrible.
There have been some criticisms about the quality of Chelsea's squad, do you think there is enough strength in depth?
Definitely not, you just have to go back to the summer where they let five senior players go and then brought in only Ramires and Bennayoun.
Ramires is a foreigner not used to the Premier League and it always takes a season or so to settle into the Premier League, and Bennayoun is pretty much out for the season already.
In terms of young players, they are very young it's not like they are first team players. When it comes to changing a game Carlo looks to the bench to try and change things around and that's when you see the difference.
Years ago any Chelsea manager could look to a bench blessed with experience and quality. At the moment Carlo looks to the bench, and he's sorting of hoping something will happen from one of these young kids rather than knowing it will.
What did you make of Ray Wilkins' departure from the club?
Clearly it wasn't Carlo's decision, I think there was a bit of internal politics going on.
I would argue that the biggest blow was the timing and the way it was done. When it happened Chelsea were comfortable at the top of the league and everything seemed very serene.
To sack him three months into the season and to argue over his severance pay just provided a very negative and unwelcome distraction.
In terms of Ray's contribution it wasn't a massive loss but the timing of it was the strange thing when it could've been done last summer.
Doing it in November rocked the boat and unsettled the dressing room. Whilst it's not the sole reason for what has gone wrong it hasn't helped.
Are Chelsea still the favourites for the Premier League title?
I wouldn't say they were favourites but that's not to say I'd rule them out either.
Over the next month we'll see how they can fightback. Obviously the run of form has been terrible and it's allowed Manchester United to take the lead which is a huge psychological boost for them becasue they haven't actually played very well.
The size of the squad is an issue. If they can keep their first choice team together then they can win the league, but if Terry and Lampard keep getting injured it will be tough for them to win the league.
How will Chelsea view the challenge of Everton on Saturday?
Everton have always given Chelsea a pretty tough game both at the Bridge and at Goodison Park.
Last season Everton proved to be a real problem for them. I remember the 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea seemed to be the better team but Everton wouldn't take defeat and kept coming back at them.
In Tim Cahill they have a guy who is very good in the air and Chelsea struggle with crosses, a weakness which Everton can expose.
Obviously losing Mikel Arteta is a bit of a blow for Everton but I expect David Moyes to get the best out of his players at Chelsea.
Everton will provide a very tough challenge and I think they will be coming to Chelsea thinking that it's a good time to play them.