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Chelsea in 2023: Best Player, Best XI, Best Goal & More

The Chelsea badge was once a symbol of swaggering brilliance, but the crest now hangs heavy with the weight of a year drifting further into chaos and disappointment.

Todd Boehly’s grand vision of a Chelsea dynasty has quickly dissolved into comedy and absurdity. The once-feared Blues are now a laughing stock, their demise entirely of their own making.

For a club famed for its ruthless ambition to conquer the world, the stench of mid-table mediocrity reeks throughout Stamford Bridge and 2023 has been a year Chelsea would like to scrub from the calendar. 

Managerial merry-go-rounds have left fans dizzy, and silverware, which was once a staple at the club, has become nothing short of an elusive fantasy.

This isn’t just a blip folks – it’s a full-blown existential crisis. Here’s our yearly review for the Blues.

Best Player – Enzo Fernandez

Enzo Fernandez’s Chelsea career has been a mixed bag. He closed his debut season with just two assists in 18 games, yet flashes of his creativity shone through with three big chances created and a knack for key passes (1.1 per 90).

Defensively, he was solid, recording 2.5 tackles per match while boasting a 53% duels success rate, but the magic he displayed at the World Cup and for Benfica remains elusive in a Chelsea shirt.

His defensive metrics have dipped this season, but he’s managed two goals and created two big chances. 

Chelsea’s turbulent environment hasn’t been an ideal platform for the World Cup winner to thrive. But at 22, his talent is undeniable.

Best Goal – Mykhailo Mudryk vs Arsenal

It wasn’t until the latter parts of this season that Chelsea found their goalscoring boots, yet there hasn’t been a litter of eye-catching goals to choose from.

However, Myhhailo Mudryk’s strike in the 2-2 draw against Arsenal back in October stands out as the pick of the bunch.

Mudryk received the ball on the left from Conor Gallagher and unleashed a cross-cum-shot that caught out David Raya, marking only his second goal in Chelsea colours.

Best game – Chelsea vs Manchester City

Chelsea took on Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in a game that would undoubtedly go down as a Premier League classic.

The Blues were determined to build on their emphatic 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur but fell behind to an Erling Braut Haaland penalty inside the opening 25 minutes.

Goals from Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling turned the game on its head, but Manuel Akanji’s free header ensured both sides went into the half-time interval level at 2-2.

Haaland doubled his tally and restored City’s lead just two minutes after the restart, but Chelsea refused to be beaten, with Nicolas Jackson poking home a rebound to level matters.

Rodri appeared to have snatched all three points for the champions with a deflected effort but City’s academy graduate Cole Palmer smashed home a last-gasp penalty to earn a 4-4 draw for Chelsea.

Best XI

Robert Sanchez has struggled to inspire confidence with a couple of flaky performances, particularly with the ball at his feet. But a lack of better options means he gets the nod between the sticks.

Marc Cucurella has been nothing short of a disappointment. He appears to be unfamiliar with the core concept of being a full-back, so Levi Colwill slots in at left back, having already delivered an assist this season.

Benoit Badiashile and Silva form the centre-back pairing, displacing Axel Disasi, who lacks situational awareness and often comes out second best in 1v1 duels. Reece James slots in at right back.

Moises Caicedo has struggled to justify his eye-watering price tag thus far, but partners Fernandez and Gallagher in the middle of the park.

Sterling has blown hot and cold for Chelsea this season but gets the nod in attack alongside Jackson and Palmer.

Best XI (4-3-3): Sanchez; James, Silva, Badiashile, Colwill; Caicedo, Fernandez, Gallagher; Palmer, Jackson, Sterling.

Best transfer signing – Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea’s reckless splurge over the past two windows has yielded a bitter harvest, with only a few newcomers living up to expectations, leaving a bloated squad littered with unproven prospects. 

Once again, Fernandez stands out as the crown jewel, although the jury is still out on the Argentine maestro, whose £106 million price tag attracts a weight of expectations.

Manager grade – D

Unwavering tactical faith should be applauded, but it transitions into naivety when the experiment is evidently yielding no fruits.

Mauricio Pochettino is paying the price for taking the back seat on Chelsea’s recruitment plans and now has to work with a bunch of players lacking the necessary experience to compete consistently at the highest level.

However, his failure to adapt to the situation has also proved costly. Pochettino has doubled down on an attacking philosophy that has left the team defensively vulnerable.

Schoolboy errors and systematic issues have become their Achilles’ heel, gifting goals to opponents with alarming regularity. Despite this, Pochettino has decided against adopting a more compact and conservative approach.

Even rivals like Erik ten Hag have openly criticised Chelsea for neglecting the defensive side of the game, a reality seemingly glaring to everyone but Pochettino.

Team grade – F

Chelsea are stuck in the same mud. Performances have been nothing short of appalling, especially from a squad that cost approximately £1 billion to assemble.

They have already lost seven games this season, showing no visible improvement from the previous campaign, which was equally awful.

Not even the comfort of Stamford Bridge has been enough to pad results. Two wins in eight home fixtures is a far cry from the fortress it should be (D3, L3).

Last season’s mid-table mediocrity seemed like rock bottom, but 15 games into the 2023/24 campaign, the Blues are closer to the relegation zone than the top four.

Chelsea in 2024 – Prediction: More mediocrity

Chelsea’s woes are far from over. 2024 may offer no respite for a side headed for yet another miserable season likely to end with a mid-table finish.

There needs to be another squad overhaul, but the youngsters are locked in with ridiculously long-term contracts, making it hard to clear the deck.

Another big money window is on the horizon, but Chelsea’s appeal to the highly coveted stars is beginning to fade and navigating the January market would be tricky.

Pochettino could also become the latest casualty of Chelsea’s relentless managerial merry-go-round if there is no seismic shift in performances and results.

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