Chelsea 2 – 2 Nottingham Forest. Taiwo Awoniyi scored twice as Nottingham Forest claimed a valuable point against Chelsea in their fight against Premier League relegation in a match that came alive in the second half.
Forest took an early lead when Awoniyi, who scored twice in Monday’s 4-3 win against Southampton, got in front of recalled Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to head in the opener from Renan Lodi’s cross.
Raheem Sterling equalised after the break when he swept home Trevoh Chalobah’s cross and the England winger then turned inside Felipe before curling the ball beyond Keylor Navas seven minutes later.
But Frank Lampard’s side led for just four minutes at Stamford Bridge as Awoniyi flicked home Orel Mangala’s delicate lob into the six-yard box to secure a draw for the visitors.
It ended a run of seven successive league away defeats for Steve Cooper’s men and leaves them three points above third-bottom Leeds United with two games remaining.
Forest, who had taken just six points from a possible 51 away from home this season before the game, face Arsenal at home next Saturday and travel to Crystal Palace on the final day of the campaign.
Chelsea, who are now winless in seven home games in all competitions, stay 11th and face three of the top four within a week – Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United – to end their miserable season.
Chelsea’s season has had little riding on it for more than a month now, since the miserable run of form during the end of Graham Potter’s reign and the beginning of Lampard’s caretaker tenure.
A mid-table position for a squad that has had multi-million pound investment in the past two transfer windows is massive under-achievement by any measure.
The draw against Forest was symptomatic of a chaotic season characterised by disjointed performances from a collection of highly priced players yet to be moulded into a winning blend.
But while few of the £550m worth of signings made under the Todd Boehly regime have been an unqualified success, the Blues have unquestionably acquired a squad of serious talent with significant potential.
In a first season to forget under new ownership, the Blues have given starts to 31 players in the top flight, the most of any club, and have made a league-high 128 changes to their starting line-up.
Further recruits might therefore seem like unwise excess, but despite their outlay, the squad still has patent weaknesses.
A true defensive midfielder to partner Argentina conductor Enzo Fernandez would give much-needed balance while a goalkeeper who imbues the defence with confidence rather than uncertainty would increase stability at the back that was missing whenever Forest crossed the ball.
The need for a goalscorer – Chelsea have scored only 36 times in the league this season – to add end product to their array of creative forwards was demonstrated by misses by Sterling and Joao Felix against Forest.
The return of Romelu Lukaku from his loan season at Inter Milan may save Chelsea’s new manager another newcomer to integrate.
The identity of that new boss has yet to be confirmed, although former Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino has been heavily linked with the position.
What is clear is that the appointment must have the charisma and nous to manage such a large number of superstar players and strike the right alchemy between them.
Whoever comes in at Stamford Bridge has a big job on their hands, but Chelsea fans must hope the leap from mid-table mediocrity to the top four is not as far away as this anarchic season has suggested.
source – BBC