Defending Premier League champion Chelsea fell to a ninth defeat in 16 league matches this year as Leicester City moved to the top of the table with a 2-1 on Monday night.
It’s hard to tell which is more astonishing: the fact that Leicester leads the Premier League table heading into the hectic Christmas period, or that Jose Mourinho’s Blues are now 16th, just one point above the relegation zone.
The outstanding Riyad Mahrez made both goals for Leicester, creating the first in the 34-minute with a delicate cross that landed in the path of Jaime Vardy, who converted his league-leading 14th goal of the season. The Algeria international made the second all by himself, controlling Marc Albrighton’s lofted ball, then shimmying away from Cesar Azpilicueta some three times before unleashing an unstoppable shot passed Thibaut Courtois into the opposite corner.
Loic Remy’s 77th-minute header gave Chelsea hope, but the Blues labored to find a second, and never really looked like finding it, anyhow.
Leicester now has an astonishing 20-point cushion over Chelsea.
After the game, embattled Chelsea coach Mourinho turned on his team. "I think [Leicester] deserved to win because they were better than us during a long period of time," the Portuguese told Sky Sports. "We conceded two goals that were unacceptable.” He went on: “One of my best qualities is to read the game for my players and I feel like my work was betrayed."
As with any man backed into a corner, Mourinho’s tirade was almost completely about himself, and how the prior season’s achievements were thanks to him, and him alone. "All last season I did phenomenal work and brought them to a level that is not their level and more than they really are," he said. "When some of your players don't hit the levels they are capable of it is hard to see. This season we are doing so bad for some reason, not all of them.”
He continued: "To turn things around, I know only one way -- working at the top level. Day by day in training I have no complaints with them. But is it frustrating to see what they are doing in training and what they do in matches? Clearly yes."
Asked if Chelsea could still finish in the top four this season, Mourinho said only: "The top four is gone -- clearly."
If that’s true, then Blues owner Roman Abramovich has a big choice to make: dispense with Mourinho now and try to start building a team for next season with a new coach and some new blood in January, or let the Portuguese complete the season and risk missing out on the Europe altogether in 2016-17.
While the polite thing would be to let the fabled two-time Chelsea manager complete the season, this is soccer; in other words, Abramovich absolutely has to let him go this time.
As Off The Post has said previously, a good number of Chelsea players clearly do not want to play for the Portuguese any longer. Just how many is unclear, but it doesn’t matter: once a handful of players become unwilling to perform for him, he needs to go. This was evident a while ago, and it will only become worse now that he is turning on his team. As it is, this situation can only fester; it has been doing so now for several months.