Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Chelsea Unconvincing on Their Travels This Season

The Premier League top another surprising twist last night as Chelsea dropped points at relegation-placed Hull City.

Steven Mouyokolo headed Hull City into the lead after half an hour. Remarkably, 15 of Chelsea's 20 goals this season have been conceded from set pieces (75%). The league average is 38.5%.

You could have been forgiven for thinking Chelsea would turn up the pressure and put a couple past Chelsea. After Hull scored Chelsea did finish the half on top. And Didier Drogba struck a free kick just before the half to take Chelsea in level at half time. Very similar circumstance to when these met on the opening day of the season.

Hull gave it their own and must have fancied their chances from set pieces again in the second half. They had chances too. Chelsea put in another lacklustre performance on the road and this time couldn't rely on a late John Terry header to pick up all 3 points. And this time they left me with a losing bet (Tottenham will do me proud tonight – couldn't ignore their odds even if it is the FA Cup – Harry Redknapp gets the business done in the cup).

Since a solid start to the season, Chelsea's away form is less than impressive. The Blues started the season with 3 straight away wins. All were impressive; at Sunderland, Fulham and Stoke City. That was ended abruptly with a 3-1 defeat at Wigan that saw the home side open with a goal from a corner and Petr Cech later sent off.

That was followed by a hardworking 1-0 win in Cyprus in the Champions League that was far from convincing. Their other two Champions League games weren't convincing either. First relying on Didier Drogba to earn a 2-2 draw at Atletico Madrid and rounding the group off with a 1-0 victory in Porto.

Chelsea have won just one of their last five league games on the road since thrashing Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates. That was thanks to John Terry's late header at Burnley on Saturday. They were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Manchester City, unconvincing in their 1-1 draw at West Ham. They drew 0-0 at an in-form Birmingham side who they would beat 3-0 at home a few weeks later. Tuesday nights draw at Hull was the latest of their travelling woes.

Chelsea are favourites by man to beat Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. The follows a trip to Goodison Park on a Wednesday night that they won't be as heavily-fancied in. After that, trips to Wolves, Portsmouth and Blackburn in the league is where they will need to sort out their away form and set piece defending. They also have a trip to Milan thrown in there to face Jose Mourinho's Inter in the Champions League!

Defending set pieces have been a big criticism of Chelsea. They have certainly been exposed from them. While away games are traditionally much tougher than at home for the obvious reasons, some of Chelsea's displays have let them down. Having said that, only Manchester United have picked up more points on their travels so far this season. But Chelsea are the odds-on favourites to win the Premier League. And their final three away games of the Premier League season are at Old Trafford, White Hart Lane and Anfield.

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