x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Chelsea blues in cold December but Villas-Boas remains defiant

Poor defence and home record has put top-four finish in risk but there will be no drastic reaction at the transfer window.

John Terry, centre, and the Chelsea men at the back have been profligate at Stamford Bridge.
John Terry, centre, and the Chelsea men at the back have been profligate at Stamford Bridge.

Andre Villas-Boas insisted there was no need for Chelsea to press the panic button, despite watching his side's season hit a new low with a shock home defeat to Aston Villa.

Saturday's 3-1 Premier League loss at Stamford Bridge piled the pressure on manager Villas-Boas, with the Blues going into today's trip to Wolves outside the top four.

It is the first time in a decade Chelsea have been so low in the table at the turn of the year, putting Villas-Boas' project under more scrutiny than ever.

The 34 year old reportedly retains the support of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, but some fans are beginning to turn and there have been fresh reports of dressing-room dissent.

It is the sort of toxic mix that would lead some managers to embark on dramatic changes in personnel and tactics, especially with several players seemingly willing to leave.

But Villas-Boas remains convinced such drastic action is unnecessary, with only two January arrivals expected at Stamford Bridge, and no change to a system that has seen Chelsea concede more goals at home than anyone outside the bottom three.

"I don't think so," said Villas-Boas when asked if his defence needed more protection.

"If there is something to correct, we need to regain that confidence in the way we build up from the back," he said. "It's an easy thing to solve with players of this technical ability."

Despite Villas-Boas' protestations, Chelsea's defensive statistics do not make for good reading.

The 16 goals they have shipped at home is already more than they conceded during an entire season for 10 years.

They have managed only one clean sheet at home in the league. More importantly, they have lost three times in front of their own fans, having been beaten on only five occasions at home during the previous seven seasons.

It is this which heralded the boos for Villas-Boas and his players at the final whistle yesterday.

The Portuguese said: "We want to repay the fans their trust. They've been magnificent in December.

"The fans have a right to show their disappointment. They know they can make a difference and we need them. There is no running away with excuses. We would have been running for the title if we'd had a better December."

Indeed, after hauling themselves back into the title race by becoming the first side to beat Manchester City in the league this season, Chelsea have lost away nine of the last 12 points on offer to lie 11 adrift of the leaders(UPDATE).

Villas-Boas said: "It's disappointing on the fact that, in the last three fixtures, all the top teams have dropped points.

"We spoke about how December could have been decisive in the running of the league, but we couldn't make the most of it. It's difficult for us to be in perspective for league contention this year."

Dismissing a title challenge as "fantasy", Villas-Boas was confident of a top-four finish. However, having hit out at the festive fixture list which sees his side travel to Wolves just 48 hours after playing Villa, the Chelsea boss said: "Normally, second day is always the worst day in terms of recovery," he said. "The risks of injury are tremendous. This is a difficult situation. Changes will be necessary."

7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports