What's Wrong With Chelsea? And Other Premier League Questions
Chelsea, fresh off of being crowned the champions of Europe, were expected to go out and compete for the Premier League title this season. After six matches, they're tied for second in the table with 13 points and are only a point off the lead. So what's wrong, exactly?
Chelsea's hot start has been seen as a bit of a mirage and their past two games lend credence to that idea. Facing off against Manchester City, Chelsea were completely and utterly dominated. They followed that up with a limp mid-week performance in the Champions League against a Juventus side who deservedly sit 10th in Serie A.
The main area of concern is their inability to generate chances. For the season, Chelsea have generated 7.9 expected goals, good for 10th in the Premier League. Going back to the 2017-18 season, the lowest a title-winning team has finished in expected goals was second.
Simply put, if Chelsea want to challenge for the title, they're going to have to start creating more up front. The far more complicated part is, how will they actually do it?
Chelsea, due to a combination of injuries and tactics, have traded defence for attack. When Thomas Tuchel came in last season, he instantly turned Chelsea into one of the best defensive sides in the world by switching to a three centre back formation.
While the move paid dividends, it now appears to be robbing the side of their attacking gusto. For Chelsea to get back to their best, they'll need to either abandon their three back sets or adjust their patterns of play.
Tuchel has proven to be an excellent coach, Lukaku only just joined the team, and they've dealt with injuries in their attack. There's still time for Chelsea to figure things out, but if they don't do it soon, the gap at the top might grow too large to overcome.
Are Brentford for real?
When a side first gets promoted the only goal is to avoid going back down. However, in recent seasons, that trend has been bucked. Last season, Leeds finished ninth in their first season back in the Premier League, the season before, so too did Sheffield United, and the season before that, Wolves finished seventh. Which raises the question, can Brentford continue the trend?
If early returns are any indication, then Brentford should have no problem securing a mid-table finish. Their expected goal metrics have been stellar, their results have been as well, and they've shown an ability to take points off the best clubs in the league.
The most encouraging part of their campaign has been their defence. It sits second in the league in expected goals allowed at six, with four of those expected goals coming against Liverpool and Arsenal. If Brentford can continue to shut down teams in the bottom half of the table, they'll have no issue racking up enough points to finish in the top half.