Where has it all gone wrong?
Here are five reasons why everything is not rosy at Stamford Bridge.
Club have already given up on the title
Finishing third would be an achievement for Chelsea, considering they finished sixth last season, but the Blues had higher aspirations heading into the season. The title has been out of reach ever since their late Autumn slump, and was slipping away even before Roberto di Matteo was sacked. Right now Chelsea are coasting, relying on their talent to get them through games, but the desire isn't there - This is because the players don't believe they are working towards a particular goal, and they aren't driven to win. This could soon change, as fourth place Spurs are just four points behind, and they will have to re-adjust their mindset to get through to the end of the season in third and show some fight.
Concern over future of major stars
Frank Lampard is currently the go-to man in midfield, dragging them through a number of games as seen with his brace in the 2-1 win at Goodison last month. But crucially he is not being retained next season, and this lack of faith in a star player must cause concerns across the whole squad. Similar doubts existed over first-choice left-back Ashley Cole until last week, and uncertainty exists over the long-term futures of Petr Cech and John Terry - who crucially has been spending much time on the bench of late, when Chelsea are crying out for a leader, especially in the latter stage of matches.
An 'interim' boss doesn't work
When Rafa Benitez was appointed as 'interim' boss back in November, there were smart remarks that his status did not matter because all Chelsea bosses were interim anyway, such was their lack of longevity. But this really does not work, as a lack of long-term planning causes players to be unsure of the future, and even the owner. It's one reason why Roman Abramovich hasn't committed many funds this January, because he knows there will be a new boss in the summer. The players know this too, and an 'interim' boss, whoever he is, doesn't generate the same impact as a popular manager does among his players who are working towards a bigger goal.
Fans don't believe
Benitez couldn't be more unpopular at the Bridge if he tried, with fans having already made up their minds about him prior to his appointment. He has done little to persuade them otherwise, appearing aloof, unengaging and uninspiring, with his team having a horrendous start to 2013. Despite the recent win over Arsenal, you will be hard pressed to find a fan happy with Benitez, his tactics, or Chelsea generally at the moment. The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge is not a good one for the team to play their best football, and supporters simply want to get to May with a Champions League place, press the reset button and start again.
The season after the Champions League win
It mustn't be forgotten what happened last season, it was truly remarkable. Chelsea won the Champions League. Savour that sentence Chelsea fans, it'll never get old. But so often when a team reaches their ultimate goal, there is the hangover afterwards. That's been evident with the Blues already being knocked out of the competition, and whatever happens between now and May, if Chelsea clinch a FA Cup and Europa League double playing sensational football along the way, it simply won't measure up.
What is the solution to Chelsea's problems?
image: © geetarchurchy