Premier League: Chelsea 0-1 Nottingham Forest

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Chelsea endured a painful 0-1 defeat against Nottingham Forest at Stamford Bridge, with their own mistakes leading to the loss. The match, played under sunny skies, was devoid of excitement, and Mauricio Pochettino’s team ultimately succumbed to The Tricky Trees due to an Anthony Elanga counterattack goal, following a game filled with persistent fouls. Scoring opportunities were scarce in the first half, with the best chance actually falling to the visitors as Taiwo Awoniyi sent his shot over the bar from just six yards away.

The second half began as a nightmare for CFC when Moisés Caicedo was dispossessed in midfield, allowing Awoniyi to set up Elanga for the decisive goal. Chelsea’s attempts to mount a comeback were sluggish and ineffective, with Nicolas Jackson missing a crucial chance late in the game, summing up a dismal afternoon for the team.

Here are three talking points for Chelsea from yet another disappointing match:

  1. Pochettino needs to consider changing the team’s formation: Despite playing at home against a supposedly weaker opponent in Premier League terms, Chelsea once again stuck with a five-at-the-back formation. While they had some success with this system against Luton last weekend, the Blues encountered difficulties breaking down Nottingham Forest’s resolute defense, which mirrored their own five defenders. Using a back five against an ultra-defensive team presents challenges in generating consistent attacking opportunities, especially when creative players are lacking on the field, as Chelsea experienced on Saturday. They struggled to create significant scoring chances with five defenders in the lineup.

Some may argue that Pochettino is playing with a flat back four, with Chilwell in the role of the left winger and Colwill/Disasi as the fullback pairings. However, Pochettino should consider returning to the 4-2-3-1 formation that was successful during the preseason USA tour. Although it was preseason, the purpose is to prepare for the regular season. Pochettino’s decision to abandon this system during the second half while trailing suggests that sticking with a defensive approach may lead to difficulties breaking down resolute defenses throughout the season.

  1. Moisés Caicedo’s impressive performance: In his third start, Moises Caicedo delivered his most impressive performance yet, with only one notable error. Caicedo played a double pivot role alongside Conor Gallagher and effectively controlled the midfield for most of the match. He demonstrated his presence across the field, executing crucial tackles to halt counterattacks, relentlessly pressuring opposition players, and positioning himself well to regain possession and initiate Chelsea’s attacks with his underrated passing abilities.

However, a misunderstanding with his partner, Gallagher, allowed Nottingham Forest to capitalize and score the decisive winning goal. While Caicedo wasn’t solely responsible for the mistake, improving his synergy with teammates is crucial for him to fulfill his immense potential.

  1. £1 billion spent at Chelsea for similar results: Despite spending £1 billion on signings since Todd Boehly and co took over, the club encountered familiar issues that persisted from last season’s disappointment. Even after a massive summer window clear-out, Chelsea still struggled against Nottingham Forest, a team that remains unbeaten against Chelsea since their promotion last season (with two draws and one loss). The Blues were uninspiring in the attacking third and found it challenging to trouble Forest throughout the afternoon. In fact, the home side managed just two shots on target.

Chelsea’s most promising opportunity of the game fell to Jackson. Sterling executed an impressive run to the by-line, delivering the ball back to the Senegal forward. However, Jackson leaned back and sent the ball over the crossbar. Apart from that chance, both Ben Chilwell and Sterling put in considerable effort but lacked the necessary quality in their finishing.

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