It feels slightly repetitive at this point dissecting Chelsea’s issues in the Premier League. An inability to stay in the title race beyond Christmas, the highly predictable slump into a gruelling race for Champions League qualification.
This has been the story Chelsea fans have become highly familiarised with over the past four years. Saturday’s collapse, watched by a sharply dressed Todd Boehly in the directors’ box, would ironically witness Romelu Lukaku, one of the issues he’s perceived to be inheriting, provide the most joy on another disappointing day.
Conceding two goals in the last fifteen minutes to an out-of-form Wolves side might have come out of the blue for those not at the game, but in the end, the Belgian’s two goals earned at least a point from a game that could have been lost.
Chelsea are limping to the finish line, almost performing like a squad that has already secured Champions League qualification, but the reality is they haven’t. One point from the last three against Manchester United, Everton and Wolves is helping to continue the trend of final day drama.
The harsh reality for Boehly is that this is a squad that has needed revamping for several years. It is a mishmash of multiple Chelsea eras that have formed a group capable of brief runs of great form and strength in cup competitions but incapable of going beyond 80 points in the league, let alone competing for the crown they won in 2017.
You’ll notice I’ve waited for almost 300 words to mention the name of Thomas Tuchel. For a while, the man who seemed to transcend the errors of the past four years. But the fact his name features low on this list is purely down to the feeling his early magnificence has been slowly overtaken by wider structural issues that existed before he took over.
The German is not completely faultless. Some bizarre selection decisions over recent weeks have puzzled supporters. The exclusion of Trevoh Chalobah, whilst several older defenders make costly errors. Chief among them is Cesar Azpilicueta, who is looking more and more like a player struggling to withstand the demands of an intense style of play.
For all Tuchel’s stressing of fatigue, the lack of significant subs in Saturday’s second half when the game was turning against Chelsea was confusing, and the complete omission of Mason Mount in a game Tuchel needed a response was another point that baffled.
The moment Trincao’s perfectly placed curler beat Edouard Mendy to get the visitors back into the game, the last gasp leveller almost felt a sad inevitability. It could be easy to blame the recent woes on form or bad luck, individual mistakes or off-pitch issues, but the longer trend of these types of performances challenge that.
Chelsea needs a cutthroat approach this summer, one that starts to reshape the look of a squad emanating echoes from the past. Whether Lukaku is part of that future after his great display on Saturday, time will tell.