Chelsea honeymoon over for Scolari

LONDON - Fortress Stamford Bridge has suddenly become a far less inhospitable hunting ground for visiting teams as Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's honeymoon period fades into the English winter gloom.

The Brazilian World Cup winner made a stunning start to life in Premier League club management, gaining plaudits for his side's free-flowing football and his relaxed, modest demeanour when dealing with the media.

Chelsea have set a hot pace in the title race, albeit matched by Liverpool, since the start of the season with a bulging goal difference and a 100 percent away league record.

The first cracks are beginning to appear, however, and the coach once famed for his angry rants in Brazil was clearly rattled after Arsenal came from behind to win 2-1 on Sunday.

He had a legitimate gripe about the first of Robin van Persie's two goals but he did not shy away from his side's own shortcomings either as they dropped their 12th home point.

"It's a problem in our last three games," Scolari said about his side's lack of goal threat. "We scored one goal but we only had one or two chances.

"We don't shoot outside the area or inside the area and we are not building the play to arrive in front (of goal), this is our mistake.

"Yes, I'm worried. I'm sad not happy. I think we are not playing very well. Sometimes you are unlucky. We are giving chances for the big teams at home."


Chelsea never lost at home in the league under Jose Mourinho and the much maligned Avram Grant, a record going back to 2004.

With Scolari at the helm that sequence was snapped by Liverpool last month.

They were then bundled out of the League Cup on penalties by Championship (second division) Burnley and drew 0-0 with Newcastle United. Now Arsenal have resurrected their ailing season at the Bridge thanks to van Persie's smash and grab raid.

Worryingly, Chelsea have picked up just one point from their clashes with Arsenal, Liverpool and champions Manchester United this season -- the mini league which often determines the destination of the title.

On Wednesday they were hugely disappointing in a 1-1 draw away to Bordeaux in the Champions League -- a result that means they are still not guaranteed a place in the last 16 going into a final match at home to Romanians CFR Cluj.

No wonder Scolari looked so agitated on Sunday.

His side are badly missing the midfield drive of the injured Michael Essien while Joe Cole's niggling injuries often rob Scolari of the flair needed to unlock defences.

Injured Ricardo Carvalho's calm assurance is missed at the back but the biggest problem for Scolari is the stop-start season of striker Didier Drogba.

The Ivorian is still serving a three-match ban for throwing a coin at Burnley fans and the sooner Chelsea can call on his pace, power and hold-up play the better if Scolari's mood is not to darken further.

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