In the top division of English football, the Premier League, there is no larger underachiever over the last two years than Chelsea F. C.
Since the club was sold to American investors led by billionaire Todd Bohley and the Clearlake Capital group in Aug. 2022, about £947.6 million have been spent for transfers and signings of on-pitch talent.
That rampant spending has not produced expected results. as a third-place finish in the 2021-22 EPL season and a subsequent UEFA Champions League trophy dwindled into a 12th place season and the firings of head managers Graham Potter, Bruno Saltor and Frank Lampard in quick succession over this last year.
Meanwhile, in that same period, Nottingham Forest F. C. has clawed its way from the lower Championship Division to earn its spot in the Prem, avoiding relegation at 16th place with signature wins against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal last season. They managed to upset Chelsea in both their meetings, drawing 1–1 and 2 – 2 at home and away respectively.
This context led into Saturday, Sept. 2’s contest between the two sides at Stamford Bridge in London. Mauricio Pochettino and Steve Cooper, Chelsea and Nottingham’s respective current managers, both sent their starters off in 3 – 4 – 2 – 1 formations, but with very different game plans.
Chelsea would dominate possession of the ball at a 76-to-24 percent split, creating 21 shot attempts and eight corner kick opportunities. Play was slow and physical, as both sides would rack up 19 fouls and seven yellow cards. Nottingham was content to play to its strength, allowing its defense to avert chances and set up counterattacks.
The complexion of the game flipped on its head at the start of the second half, when Nottingham’s Taiwo Awoniyi, left uncontested, placed a through ball to substitute Anthony Elanga who made the finish on goal look way too easy.
Chelsea tried to mount a furious comeback attempt, but ultimately fell with the final whistle sounding 1–0.
“First and foremost, it’s a brilliant result, one that we’ve longed for,” Cooper said of the effort. The early-season win brought Nottingham to 2 – 0 – 2 and Chelsea to 1 – 1 – 2, meaning hurt pride aside, the latter will have to play from behind in its quest to reestablish itself as a top contender.