Chelsea Focus – Blues pay for poor start yet again

For the first time this season Chelsea are facing the pressure of bouncing back from a run of defeats. The week began with a loss against Shakhtar Donetsk that leaves Chelsea in a spot of bother in their Champions League group, and ended in controversial circumstances as Manchester United took all three points from Stamford Bridge to close the gap at the Premier League summit.

The tone for the Blues in both games was set by the conceding of early goals and leaving too much to do later in the game, a habit they will need to shake off if they want to add to their trophy cabinet come May.

Chelsea have only conceded a handful of goals in the second-half of games so far this season, but all of a sudden they are leaking goals before they really get a chance to settle into games. It took just three minutes to go one down in midweek and only one minute more for United to open the deadlock on Sunday.

The problem seems to be a matter of concentration as their record in second halves of games shows, and, as well as they have played in those games, especially for extended periods on Sunday, it has proved too much to fight back from.

All the attention in the aftermath will be on Mark Clattenburg and the fact that he did not have his best performance this weekend, but before a finger is pointed, Roberto Di Matteo will want to ask his players why they needed to go two goals down before they started to flex some muscles of their own.

In truth, with a few refereeing decisions better made, the result against United could have been very different. But games like these do not happen every week and it is extremely unlikely that the same misfortunes will occur for the rest of the season. Instead of worrying too much about a bad decision or two, Chelsea should be focusing on setting these big games up better from the outset. It has proven to be wise to settle into important matches and get a feel for the occasion before setting siege on the opponent goal, and harsh lessons have already been learned in this campaign.

Just as predicted, now that Chelsea have tasted disappointment, probably the most since Andre Villas-Boas was employed last season, we will get to see with interest how they react to a little adversity.

Many times in the last decade Chelsea have been the side who pull together and turn bad situations around, but with that squad being phased out and new blood in for the fight, will they carry the same principles? Or will they sulk and let this week set the tone for the rest of the season? Intriguing it is and over the coming weeks we will find a lot out about the character of the boys in blue.

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