The November Curse: it's been a problem for Chelsea ever since 2009, which was when we were last unbeaten in the month. The unexplainable decline in the team's performance as a whole took its toll and could have cost us several trophies. However now, Jose Mourinho's side have turned things around with the results from this November looking promising: WDWWWD. Surely, this is a sign that things are changing all for the better. Could we have a repeat of the 2005-06 season? Let's hope so!
A quick look at how things have gone so far:
It's November the 1st and Chelsea are all set to kick things off against their London rivals, QPR. After the minute's silence observed by all at Stamford Bridge, the atmosphere immediately became gripping. The pressure was on Chelsea as they set about maintaining the undefeated start to the season. In the early minutes of the game, one of Chelsea's latest additions, Fabregas, delivered three amazing corners. Oscar, Ivanovic and Fabregas had shots that followed, however it was Oscar's 32 minute right-footed goal that gave us the lead we deserved. Shortly after came the second 45 minutes, and despite shots from Oscar and a penalty-call from Hazard, it was QPR's Charlie Austin who scored the first goal of the half: the equaliser. In spite of this, it was Hazard who took the penalty that was very much deserved with 16 minutes left to play, and with no surprise, he scored it. Chelsea's impressive run continued.
Then, 5 days later, Chelsea took on Maribor in an attempt to get the maximum amount of points against the Slovenians. It was clear from the start that the visitors were the ones dominating which reflected in the first few minutes of the second half, where Ibraimi got a shot past Petr Cech (and fair play to him for that one!) with a well-aimed strike. Regardless of this, Chelsea were reluctant to let the Slovenians be victorious yet too many opportunities were either missed or not taken; the lead Maribor had did seem to have a negative impact on the Chelsea players and the clear penalty-shout that wasn't awarded didn't help us either. Yet in the 73rd minute, Matic took a chance and scored the equaliser for us. We could have won the match as with just 5 minutes to go, Hazard was awarded a penalty, but the keeper blocked the strike. We accepted the draw because after all, one point is better than no points!
Moving on, the 8th of November came and the match so many had anticipated finally was about to take place: Liverpool vs Chelsea. After only 9 minutes, Emre Can scored the first goal of the match, putting Liverpool ahead - not for long though. Cahill got one back for us just after 5 minutes and the battle to win commenced soon after. Chelsea were the dominant ones at Anfield, and several shots from Eden Hazard were unfortunately denied, however after some amazing play by Azpilicueta, (back in defence after his 3-match suspension), Costa netted the winner for us with 23 minutes remaining. Chelsea had now gone 17 games unbeaten. This match had been our 9th win in the league this season, and the only negative seemed to be that Gerrard didn't slip again!
The fourth match that took place in November for us was that against West Brom. Our domination in this game proved we had no longer fallen victims to the mysterious-month curse. The match was extravagantly opened by Diego Costa as he scored his 11th goal of the season by volleying the ball past Foster's clutches. After many other attempts on goal from our players like John Terry, it was Hazard who managed to secure the lead for us. The Belgian's shot was well-composed and that strike became his 6th goal of the campaign so far. Then, it turned out the visitors would have to play the majority of the game left with just 10 men, which limited their ambition and allowed Chelsea to dominate even more. The 3 points we deserved extended our lead at the top. We remained undefeated!
Then we had our 5th match in November and we won 5-0. A great result in the Champions League that enabled us to continue having a positive November. 3 minutes hadn't even passed before John Terry netted the first goal in for Chelsea, which was shortly followed by Willian's goal. The score was 3-0 at half-time due to Kirchhoff's own-goal, but the goal spree didn't end there. Substitutes Drogba and Ramires found the net with a great effort from the team throughout. The win didn't just mean we remained undefeated, but because of the 5-0 scoreline, we had equalled our all-time best Champions League result away from home; we won 5-0 against Galatasaray in 1999.
It was only yesterday we saw November end well. The 0-0 draw against Sunderland wasn't the best performance from us, however it did highlight some areas of football controversy. It appeared Sunderland 'parked the bus', yet were praised with 'quality defending'. It's amusing how 'parking the bus' isn't considered anti-football when it isn't Chelsea using that tactic. However Mourinho recognised this, and praised Sunderland for their defence. Despite this, it was clear Chelsea deserved a penalty as Gary Cahill was picked up, underarm. There were no other particular highlights, yet not every game of football can be a beautiful one. We didn't lose or concede, so let's take those as positives.
What happened, and what's changed?
Chelsea's latest additions such as Costa and Fabregas haven't failed to deliver. They've improved our squad depth which was already fantastic. We tried our best to manage with the International Break Tiredness too, and to be where we are in November, which has been awful for the past few seasons, sparks hope in all of the Blues fans. Having an end to the year this strong will ensure we're left with a high lead at the top, and that could provoke wonderful things in 2015.
Let's hope we remain unbeaten in December! KTBFFH.