x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chelsea: a club wary and wounded

Villas-Boas confident that Roman Abramovich still stands by him and that January will see the owner fund the reinforcements.

It took the club's medics until half time to half-halt the bleeding from Petr Cech's face. Sparse was the evidence at Ewood Park that Chelsea have done any more than transiently stopped the ebbing away of the club's Premier League lifeblood.

Yes, Chelsea avoided emulating their worst sequence of top-tier results since 1999. Yes, they kept a clean sheet for the first time since the opening weekend. Yet, in little way did they convince against Steve Kean's relegation-zoned side.

The Scot could complain that his side had spurned the better chances.

As Andre Villas-Boas's team sought to preserve their lead, gilt-edged chances to equalise emerged from mishandled free kicks and a nastily mistimed clearing header. This is a club as ill at ease with itself as Blackburn.

There are complaints of a lack of communication - senior players only learning if they are starting in the pre-game team meeting.

Haunted by the prospect of losing captaincy of both country and club if found guilty of racial abuse, John Terry told his manager he was ready to start against Genk in midweek only to be told to sit on the bench.

Villas-Boas's decision to field a weakened line-up in that Champions League tie was questioned in the same manner as the high defensive line he ordered in the 5-3 defeat against Arsenal.

The Portuguese, though, is confident that Roman Abramovich still stands by him and that January will see the owner fund the reinforcements his manager requested four months ago. It is a war we've watched at Chelsea before. It will not end without further bloodshed.

sports@thenational.ae


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