It has been well over nine months since Chelsea’s worst defeat in the Premier League. A soul crushing defeat at the Etihad saw Maurizio Sarri’s side humbled and humiliated to the tune of a 6-0 thrashing.
The result stands as Chelsea’s worst defeat ever in the Premier League. The loss to Manchester City came off the heels of what was previously the worst defeat in the Roman Abramovich Era, losing 4-0 to Bournemouth.
Chelsea were a club stringing together inconsistent performances, locked in a battle for the last spot in the top-four with Arsenal and Manchester United. Manchester City, on the other hand, were chasing Liverpool and were just three points behind.
Surmounting pressure surrounded Sarri, and the vibes at Chelsea were reportedly low among the players.
"It is one of the worst nights in my career."— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 11, 2019
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta apologised to the fans after the London club's heavy defeat by Manchester City.
More: https://t.co/mHqor1s7dy pic.twitter.com/VmDis9qVDx
A lot has changed since that fixture at the Etihad. For Chelsea, gone is the talismanic wonder that is Eden Hazard. Maurizio Sarri is no longer in charge, and has taken Gonzalo Higuain with him. David Luiz has wandered off to North London for minutes.
Frank Lampard has come in and substantially changed the culture and mood within the club. An aura of rejuvenation surrounds the place. Chelsea have gone back to their ways of old, having won seven successive away matches in all competitions.
Long gone are the negative chants deriding “Sarri-ball”. Fans everywhere have much to sing and praise nowadays.
Youth has reinvigorated the squad. The meteoric rise of academy talents Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, and Fikayo Tomori has brought new life into the senior squad. Kurt Zouma has shrugged off early questions of fitness and quality with a string of positive performances. Callum Hudson-Odoi (although reported out for this weekend) and Reece James look ready to force themselves into the lineup.
Of the players who took part in last year’s thrashing for Chelsea, it’s possible only Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, and N’Golo Kante will feature.
A glance at the table will show Chelsea ahead of City. Playing well above expectations, Chelsea are the team in hot form. We are level with Leicester City for second, and chasing Liverpool (albeit there’s a considerable gap there still).
City find themselves on the heels of a soul-crushing defeat to Liverpool. It’s a defeat that has put a heavy damper to their title ambitions. A defeat that has exposed this year’s City campaign for their own faults for lack of reinforcements.
In less than 24 hours, both clubs will make a statement of ambition for the rest of this season. Hopefully, for Chelsea, that statement will include putting to bed the demons of last season for good.