This is hardly an original thought -- broadly speaking, something like this has been anticipated in certain circles since summertime -- but Chelsea's record in 'big' matches this season deserves some attention. Because no matter how you slice it up, it's been appalling. And it's not just that we're not winning against the tougher opposition, which would be palatable but annoying. It's that we're so obviously flimsy.
Here's a recap of the matches I consider important games against difficult opposition. Your mileage may vary on the specifics (defining big games is naturally difficult), but the general trend will hold.
Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea: allow 10-man City a late equaliser.
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal: comfortable win.
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea: allow last-minute equaliser.
Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea: tight away victory.
Southampton 1-1 Chelsea: concede first but come back strong.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: allow equaliser after being handed early penalty.
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: very tight extra time win.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City: go ahead in key match, immediately give up soft goal.
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur: routine Cup final win.
PSG 1-1 Chelsea: Score early, fade in second half and allow equaliser
Chelsea 2-2 PSG: Cough up lead twice against 10-man side, lose on away goals.
In six of our 11 biggest games this season, in other words, Chelsea have taken the lead only to give it back up, mostly in ridiculous circumstances. We've only come from behind twice in that time. Given that we're supposed to be a better side than we were last year (and we're doing an admirable job of looking like it against lesser teams), our inability to see out matches against serious competition is a major worry.
A comparison to last season, which saw us drop just two points all season against top-four sides and make it all the way to the Champions League semifinals with a squad seen as horribly flawed, is hardly flattering to this group's efforts. We could and should point to both sets of results as a little fluky, but waving away a serious problem as luck of the draw is a good way to ensure that said problem never gets fixed.
Right now, we're on track to win the league, but that's a function of merrily destroying the weaker sides rather than comfortably crushing our rivals. That's not the type of football that will win you two-legged knockout ties. Chelsea appear to have solved one of last year's major problems while introducing another serious issue.