|Image: The Sun|
Despite plenty of suggestions and conjectures prior to Saturday's game that The Blues have turned the corner after three games undefeated on the bounce under Mourinho—an undeserved 1-0 vs Norwich, 4-0 vs Tel-Aviv & feisty 0-0 against London rivals Spurs—this defeat was just another reassurance that Chelsea have no chance of finishing top four this season.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea huffed and puffed once again, against an organised but far-from-rigid Bournemouth side who hadn't won in eight games prior to yesterday, with a whole range of chances, shots & possession but failed to convert on every occasion.
By the end of the game, Chelsea had clocked 14 shots to Bournemouth's 9, while 64% of possession failed to materialise into anything important.
This now leaves Chelsea in 14th place in the Premier League, 14 points off top four, 17 off Leicester at the summit of the table, and 3 off relegation. A pathetic example of Champions and representation of England, while an equally poor attempt if Mourinho hopes to be in charge next season.
One problem has been that Mourinho has continually made poor team selections and setting his side up in the most error-prone systems.
This also hasn't been helped by Mourinho's decision to completely overlook any necessity to put any emphasis on the defensive-midfield roles in his side.
He continues to pair Fabregas and Matić together in the pivot, and it is an area that sides mainly target. Mourinho has already realised it, but getting the Portuguese to admit he was wrong is another thing.
Ever since Spurs on NYD, Fabregas has been tracking opponents in the same way they should be tracking him—not being used for what he's good at—sitting deeper, enjoying possession, supplying the ammunition for the front four, making Chelsea less predictable.
Ultimately, Chelsea could be in a much better position this season, if they could only find a striker to create space and finish the plays they so readily create from one game to the next.
Hazard's hot-and-cold form is worrying, he has failed to ignite properly since the summer break. The Belgian international has showed glimpses of his exquisite balance and ability to effortlessly carry the ball past defenders against sides like Manchester City, Arsenal, Stoke City & Norwich, but those examples are themselves indicative of the problem.
Hazard is fluttering like a bird in-and-out of games, largely a peripheral figure rather than the principal one he epitomized last season.
Cesc Fabregas is another player who has enduring a remarkable slump, but such form is to be expected when you play one of the best playmakers in the world as a defensive patsy.
Such an ethos has reached epidemic levels throughout the squad, with a similar inability to get the job done reaching throughout the midfield and defence in literally all of Chelsea's Premier League games this campaign.
The pressure is firmly on Mourinho after the Bournemouth loss. Too much too soon seems to be the agenda at Chelsea at the moment and it's costing the Blues valuable points in their bid for a miraculous Champions League spot at the end of the campaign.
Mourinho summed it up perfectly. The objective isn't top four anymore. It's more about finishing top six now.