Chelsea's Defensive Woes Give 'Em The Blues

When, oh when, will Chelsea's defensive woes end? At what point will Andre Villas-Boas decide to make changes to his backline? Or, worse, when will Roman Abramovich lose patience, and sack the Premier League's most expensive manager? AVB certainly doesn't deserve to be forced out, not this early, but with defensive lapses leading to both Liverpool goals, he'd do well to have a plan in place to remedy the situation.

The first Liverpool goal, after 35 minutes of play, came courtesy of an error by John Obi Mikel. The Chelsea midfielder took too much time on the ball, and the Liverpool pressure easily took it off his hands (feet?). Then came a fantastic exchange of passes between Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy, with Bellamy passing on to an unmarked Maxi Rodriguez on the left side. An quick finish, and Liverpool had a 1-0 lead.

At halftime, Villas-Boas changed things up a bit, bringing on Daniel Sturridge to replace the woeful Mikel. The Chelsea formation shifted to a 4-2-3-1, which served its intended purpose just ten minutes after the restart. Florent Malouda sent a great ball to the far post, causing the Reds defense to fall to pieces. Both Sturridge and Juan Mata were left completely unmarked, but it was the former who tapped in the goal.

Alas, the Chelsea attack, despite looking much better in their revised formation, just couldn't find another goal. Malouda missed an absolute sitter in front of the net, somehow contriving to send the ball around the far post and out of play. Fernando Torres, on in place of Didier Drogba, was being his usual Torres self. Argue all you want about Torres' skills, but the Blues needed a goal, and the striker wasn't there to provide it.

Liverpool made their former player, and the rest of the Chelsea side, pay in the end. Dirk Kuyt sent a great long pass to the right side, where Glen Johnson was rushing forward. He easily rounded Ashley Cole, putting the ball in the back of the net in the 87th minute. With no answer from the home side, Liverpool took all three points, 2-1.

The loss to Liverpool, condemned the London side to successive home league defeats for the first time in the Abramovich era to leave them 12 points off Manchester City at the summit. The team still appear riddled by defensive frailties and are now one of four clubs on 22 points, suggesting even their long-term place in the top four should be considered in doubt.

This club's willingness to sack managers, particularly when future Champions League participation appears to be in doubt, was established with the dismissal of Luiz Felipe Scolari in February 2009 after seven months in the role. When asked if he was concerned about Abramovich's lack of patience, Villas-Boas replied: "It's not a question of the owner having patience. We have set out to build something new at this club, and the club is committed to taking on what we're building into the future. The owner didn't pay €15m to get me out of Porto only to pay me another fortune just to let me go again."

Villas-Boas has lost twice as many points, 14 - from his first 12 league games in charge as Scolari did in 2008-09, though even with the club's desire to reinvigorate the squad, the Portuguese is adamant this should not be considered a season of transition. "Given the dimension of our club, you cannot forget that your fans expect you to win titles. We have to respond to the confidence of the fans. There's no running away from responsibilities. There's no calling this a transitional period. We're not asking for time to work. Our responsibility is to win trophies."

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