"It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there."
[caption id="attachment_135700" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho walks on the sidelines during the Champions League group G soccer match between FC Porto and Chelsea FC at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Porto won 2-1. (AP Photo/Steven Governo)[/caption]
English Premier League champions Chelsea truly embodies that cliche, struggling to repeat their impressive form from last year.
The team that dominated English football last season looks a shadow of their former self.
With no major changes in the squad during the summer transfer window, one wonders what has gone wrong with Chelsea. The shaky defense, albeit ageing and losing pace, looked rock solid till May this year.
The club is off to it's worst start in 29 years, having earned just 7 points of the first 6 games, questions are being asked now whether the defending champions can defend their title. Or even finish in top 4.
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Chelsea have lost as many league games (three) as they did in the entirety of last season and have conceded 12 goals in five games which they conceded in 15 games last season.
After a year of team building during the 2013/14 season, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho showcased to the world that he was the man to take the most popular club in London to the next level, but after a disastrous start to the season even "The Special One" doesn't look that special.
More so, his efforts to rebulid the squad took a major setback during the transfer window as Chelsea spent the majority of the summer looking to acquire the services of Everton starlet John Stones but failed to sign him despite a whopping £38m offer and a transfer request from Stones himself.
The transfer deadline day signing of Senegalese defender Papy Djilobodji left fans scratching their head and even Mourinho admitted it wasn't his choice.
The only solace was the £21m acquisition of Barcelona star Pedro, who has been good so far, considering that others have been struggling to find form.
The squad doesn't look prepared for a title defense and some players have even admitted that it is taking Chelsea time to adjust to the tag of defending champions.
The off-field controversies have been too many, a dark cloud has been circling around Stamford Bridge ever since Mourinho's furious touchline bust-up with club doctor Eva Carneiro and club physio Jon Fearn during the 2-2 draw against Swansea. The feud has disrupted the atmosphere in the dressing room, with various reports of rifts between players and the manager making headlines, from Diego Costa fighting John Terry to Jose demoting Eva Carneiro.
[caption id="attachment_135706" align="alignleft" width="182"] Chelsea players react as Southampton teammates celebrate after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)[/caption]
Jose Mourinho's side are the one the others are trying to dethrone and on Saturday lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace, the team against whom they secured the title in May.
The Blues are playing catch-up to Manchester City and a training ground injury to keeper Thibaut Courtois that will keep him out of action from 2-4 months has affected the morale and mood of the dressing room even further.
The Blues even lost to Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park in a clash which had added intrigue following Chelsea’s unsuccessful bid to sign Toffees defender John Stones.
The mighty blues were left embarrassed after a Steven Naismith hat-trick condemned them to the lower reaches of the Premier League table.
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A doomed season was oncourse, but an unexpected blessing came for the blues in the form of a Uefa Champions League group opener at home against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Change in pace and focus was definitely needed after the defeat at Everton, and a fresh start at home to relatively unheralded competition, with Maccabi having failed to get out of the group in their only previous attempt in 2004/05.
Chelsea won the game with an impressive 4-0 scoreline, and the game turned out to be the catalyst to revive shattered confidence right before the much anticipated rematch from the community shield of against Arsenal.
The derby, the rivarly that grows with every match and with every comment by the managers of both the clubs, Arsenal against Chelsea is always an exciting match to watch, but this one was special in the true sense as this was the first time the two clubs faced each other after Arsene Wenger finally broke the Mourinho curse in the community shield match in July.
This was the make or break for Chelsea, and the mighty blues showcased why they are the defending champions, Jose Mourinho dropped his captain, and the out-of-form vice-captain Branislav Ivanovic was given captaincy duties.
What looked like a gamble to most, payed off as Chelsea defeated their arch rivals 2-0 in a match that stirred a lot of controversy.
The Champions League game against Maccabi Tel Aviv should be given much of the credit for the turn-around as the win against them gave Chelsea a much needed confidence booster that reflected when the blues played against Arsenal.
The blues didn't just come out victorious, but they looked a different team altogether, a team much like last year, the defense looked strong, the mid-field looked solid which showed in the post match stats, with Chelsea dominated almost in all aspects - from possession to number of shots.
Jose has pointed to last season’s experience when Manchester City closed an eight-point gap in December before allowing Chelsea to break clear again as evidence of the way in which the table can be transformed.
So, with just 8 games played till now, counting them out of the title picture this soon might just be underestimating the champions of England, Chelsea is a team known for it's will to fight, not give up and come out on top when the odds are placed against them, the blues have some of the biggest footballing names in their squad, but what stands out for the West London club is the Unique trio of the owner, the manager and the team captain.
Roman Abramovich the super fan; Jose Mourinho the special one and number 26 John Terry, their captain leader legend and not to forget an amazing set of fans, who continue to support the team even in the darkest of hours.
For the time being, owner Abramovich and the Chelsea board has given the vote of confidence to Mourinho. But that might run out soon, as Brendan Rodgers found out in Livepool, if the blues continue to falter like they have this season.
Self-proclaimed rockstar, his mission is to take the fight for eyeballs to the entertainment team at work. Constant accidents and smashed car define this introvert at first look. Once he opens up, he can be a charmer. Google’s his best friend cause’ he has magic in his fingers – his stories trend on search engines. Sachin is his god but he eats and breathes Chelsea, drinks everything, burps techno, freaks the hell out with dogged stubbornness, a little iffy outside his comfort zone, but overall the king of good times. Finally, Vijay Mallaya has some competition!
One day he aspires to become India’s answer to rap or Baba Sehgal (take your pick) because this is what he wrote to describe himself at work: 'When I write stories, down goes ent, even gopi bahu runs hiding in a tent.' Amen!