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Chelsea 0-1 Nottingham Forest: Match Report & Player Ratings

A lone strike from second-half substitute Anthony Elanga just after half-time sealed all three points for Forest, pushing the two-time European Cup winners into mid-table after a credible start to their campaign


Premier League giants Chelsea are already under the microscope early in the 2023-24 season despite another summer of spending at Stamford Bridge after Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues tasted defeat at the hands of Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest in a frustrating 1-0 affair in west London.

A lone strike from second-half substitute Anthony Elanga just after half-time sealed all three points for Forest, pushing the two-time European Cup winners into mid-table after a credible start to their campaign under Cooper that has also seen them put in fighting performances against Arsenal (2-1 L) and Manchester United (3-2 L).

But all the talk will almost certainly surround Chelsea after the Blues put in a relatively dire performance in front of home support at the Bridge in an outing that saw the English giants craft 21 shots but manage to test Matt Turney on just two occasions, while only carving out the same number of big chances as a Forest side that managed just seven shots at the other end.

For a side that has spent £1bn since last summer when Todd Boehly and Blueco took the reigns, it is hard to argue that the result can ever be countenanced.

There is no doubt that the plan for the cadre of young talent the club has acquired is to push for incremental growth that could prove immense in the coming seasons, but the debate surrounding just how much the club has spent, the balance of what it has been spent on, and whether or not the club will be able to sustain frustrating results across multiple seasons will ground the project on the tarmac before it truly achieves sufficient lift.

The chance that Chelsea becomes a footballing Spruce Goose is as great as the club rocketing to 85,000 feet like an SR-71 Blackbird; and therein lies the problem.

When it comes to Mauricio Pochettino, a man who does have a fantastic track record of guiding young players to development and performance increases during his spell at both Southampton and Tottenham, this could potentially be a bridge too far given the fact that Chelsea are arguably the biggest club in England across the last 15 seasons due to their success both on home shores and on the continent.

Channeling new attacking elements into a cohesive unit is tricky regardless of even better circumstances, but the task at hand is proving immense, a fact that was once again on display today as Chelsea seemingly lacks real invention and imagination in the creative department, while sequences in the middle and final third are inspired more by individual moments than collective contributions in terms of both making and creating space.

Moreover, in comparison to days gone by when Chelsea could boast a cadre of players who knew how to tuck chances away, that key aspect is currently lacking massively. Nicolas Jackson, who was lively again today for his new club, is still not yet the mold of a player whom Chelsea can bank on as tucking key chances away, as evidenced by him missing a massive sitter in the second half.

On balance, despite dominance in possession and shot generation, Chelsea are still raw and very much finding their way. There is no doubt plenty of scope to suggest that they can come god in time as the season plods on, while also suggesting that they should be performing better than what they are at present.

This is to take nothing away from Forest, who have no doubt improved already this season in comparison to 2022-23, while also having a better-defined identity on the pitch than their more illustrious opponent.

But for Chelsea, the idea of time comes in two forms; it can be their biggest ally or their greatest enemy.



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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.


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