EPL: Chelsea slump to second consecutive league defeat

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Lee Bowyer’s first goal of the season gave Birmingham a shock 1-0 victory over Chelsea here on Saturday to cast more doubts over the ability of Carlo Ancelotti’s side to retain the Premier League title.

Less than a week after Ancelotti was left fuming at his team’s lame capitulation against Sunderland, Chelsea’s season reached a new low as they chalked up more unwanted records by recording their first run of three defeats in four league games since Russian owner Roman Abramovich rescued the club from former owner Ken Bates.

Chelsea last tasted defeat in two Premier League games on the spin when they lost the final two matches of the 2005-06 season having already claimed the title under Jose Mourinho.

Rather than stemming the nosebleed handed to them by Steve Bruce’s side last Sunday, they spilt more blood in the title race at St Andrew’s as Ben Foster underlined why Birmingham manager Alex McLeish believes he can be England’s goalkeeper for a decade to come.

Foster was criticised for his performance in the 2-1 defeat against France on Wednesday at Wembley, but he redeemed himself with the kind of outstanding performance that will leave Didier Drogba having sleepless nights trying to work out how he failed to score.

Not too many weeks ago few people were willing to offer an argument against Chelsea cruising to the defence of their title as Ancelotti’s side averaged four goals per game.

Now they are fighting to stabilise their season.

The 3-0 defeat against Sunderland and the worst performance Ancelotti had witnessed since his arrival came at the end of a turbulent week and the controversial sacking of first team coach Ray Wilkins.

Wilkins’ announcement that he intends to fight the decision will have only added to the sense of unrest off the field, while the catalogue of injuries to influential players like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien means
questions are now being asked of Chelsea’s stability and strength in depth.

Ancelotti is too professional to publicly reveal what can only be interpreted as his sense of betrayal at the decision to sack Wilkins and appoint Michel Emenalo as his number two.

He had to keep his anger in check at the shocking way his team allowed Bowyer to open the scoring after they had wasted two excellent chances of their own.

No one tracked Bowyer’s run from deep and he was all alone to sweep the ball past Peter Cech after Cameron Jerome headed Sebastian Larsson’s cross into his path.

By that time, Chelsea had already swept 80 yards in five passes, involving four players, only to see Drogba denied from the edge of the area by Foster, while Kalou lacked the bravery to convert at the near post inside the opening minute.

Foster’s save from Drogba was the start of a personal duel which reduced the Ivorian to disbelief in the opening 45 minutes, mostly from the wonderful one-handed save which kept out Drogba’s header from six yards.

Kalou was denied by a fine sprawling save, when he thought he had rounded the goalkeeper in the area and somehow managed to head wide from eight yards, after Florent Malouda’s cross.

Branislav Ivanovic’s header appeared to be heading for the top corner until Foster intervened again with another smart reaction save as Birmingham threatened to drown under a blue tidal wave of attacks.

It has been 165 games and over four years since Chelsea last tossed away six points in succession, but the odds on them putting together another such run seems a long way off right now and their title is seriously under threat.

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