Scowling Scolari needs a rethink
Defeat to Arsenal means Luiz Felipe Scolari is facing his first big test as Chelsea manager and there are plenty of people waiting to see how the volatile Brazilian handles it.
Until a few weeks ago everything was sweetness and light at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea set the pace in the Premier League title race. They were scoring goals for fun and Scolari was seen as a breath of fresh air with his jovial manner.
The cracks are now starting to appear, however, as results turn sour. Last week he said he would have to go back to Brazil if Chelsea failed to make the last 16 of the Champions League.
The 1-1 draw with Bordeaux, in which they were dreadful, means they still have work to do on that front when CFR Cluj come to London next week.
Most worryingly for Scolari, what was once a fortress at Stamford Bridge under previous managers Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant is suddenly looking a little flimsy.
Defeat by Liverpool in October was bad enough, then there was the penalty shoot-out defeat by second division Burnley, a turgid 0-0 draw with Newcastle and a 2-1 loss at home to Arsenal on Sunday.
For the first time since arriving Scolari had a rant on Sunday, accusing the referee of costing his side the victory that would have effectively knocked Arsenal out of the title race. The pressure is clearly beginning to show. His honeymoon period is over.
He had a point about Robin van Persie’s first goal being offside. But Chelsea’s general performance was typical of their recent form, particularly at home where they have now dropped 12 points already – eight of them against their main title rivals.
The midfield looked painfully short of flair and power in the absence of Joe Cole and, more importantly Michael Essien. At the back John Terry appears to be missing the calming influence of Ricardo Carvalho. Nicolas Anelka is either brilliant or invisible and the suspended Didier Drogba looks like he wants away in the January transfer window.
Chelsea had just two shots on target against Arsenal and barely managed one at Bordeaux.
Luckily, their away form is impeccable, seven wins from seven league matches, but Scolari has much to ponder as Christmas approaches and do not be surprised if he is knocking on Roman Abramovic’s door with a New Year shopping list.
PHOTO: Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London Nov. 30, 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh