Chelsea's woes mount after Bournemouth stalemate
BOURNEMOUTH: Troubled Chelsea had to settle for a disappointing 0-0 draw against Bournemouth on Sunday as their dismal start to the Premier League season showed no signs of improving.
Mauricio Pochettino's side have won just once in five league games this term and they were booed off after lacking any semblance of a cutting edge at the Vitality Stadium.
The Blues are without a goal in their last two matches and have scored only five times in the league this season.
They are languishing in 14th place, closer to the relegation zone than the top four, as Pochettino comes to terms with the size of the task facing him at Stamford Bridge.
“I cannot say that I am happy but it was a very competitive game. We should win 1-0 or 2-0 easily because in the first 30 minutes we had the chances,“ Pochettino said.
“With 12 injuries and only three players that started today who were with us for these two weeks I think I need only need to say it was a really good effort.”
The former Tottenham and Paris Saint Germain boss was hired in the close-season to clean up the mess left by Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard, who all had spells in charge of Chelsea during last season's wretched campaign.
But Pochettino has so far been unable to make an impact despite Chelsea's £350 million spending spree on new signings.
A rash of untimely injuries haven't helped but Chelsea's decision to largely sign younger players has left Pochettino with an inexperienced squad that lacks the maturity to close out games.
“We need to prove our efficiency in front of goal. We need to be calm also but these circumstances are not always easy for the players. We cannot blame anyone,“ Pochettino said.
“The fans are disappointed because of the situation but I am not worried about that because we really know what we are doing.”
Challenging for a place in the Champions League was Pochettino's target this season, but that ambition already seems overly optimistic on the evidence of this drab display against winless Bournemouth.
While it is too soon to say Pochettino is in danger of the sack, he will be well aware Potter lasted less than seven months before being sacked by co-owner Todd Boehly.
Pochettino made two changes from the side that lost to Nottingham Forest in their previous game, with big-money summer signing Moises Caicedo left out of the squad and teenager Lesley Ugochukwu given his first Premier League start.
Chelsea tried to seize the initiative in the early stages, but Enzo Fernandez fired straight at Neto from the edge of the area before Raheem Sterling dragged his shot woefully wide from a dangerous position.
Nicolas Jackson went much closer when the Senegal striker drilled his shot against the post from 20 yards.
Despite their bright start, Chelsea were nearly undone by woeful defending as the unmarked Dango Ouattara reached a cross with a close-range effort that forced a fine save from Robert Sanchez.
Gallagher should have put Chelsea ahead with a shot on the turn from 10 yards, but Neto plunged to his right to make a good save.
Chelsea thought they had finally taken the lead early in the second when Sterling's free-kick bounced off the bar to Levi Colwill, who slotted into the empty net only to see his effort disallowed for offside.
But it was Bournemouth who finished stronger and Axel Disasi narrowly avoided conceding a penalty when his despairing lunge brought down Justin Kluivert just outside the area.
Sanchez came to Chelsea's rescue in the 80th minute, saving with his legs to keep out Dominic Solanke's strike.
Sterling could have won it with a close-range header that lacked the power to beat Neto, who also made a fine instinctive save to repel Cole Palmer's close-range volley. - AFP