The Blues made a splash early in the January transfer period by acquiring Demba Ba from Newcastle, but Chelsea have been quiet since his arrival. Their lack of activity may have cost them a shot at the Premier League title.
With injuries piling up and Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel playing in the Africa Cup of Nations, Chelsea could be hurting as they attempt to overtake Manchester United in the Premier League. The Blues have plenty of depth, but adding to that depth this month to alleviate injury concerns would have been a wise decision.
According to Pete O’Rourke of SkySports.com, Chelsea have shown interest in Birmingham City keeper Jack Butland, but several other clubs are also pursuing him. With Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich keeping the purse strings tight in the final days of the transfer period, it doesn’t look like the Blues will be adding any more talent for a run at Manchester United and the title (via MirrorFootball).
Interim boss Rafael Benitez wanted to make some moves this January in fear of injuries and a tough second-half schedule, and according to Martin Lipton of the Mirror, Benitez told Abramovich he did not believe his squad would hold up to the strain.
Chelsea are just seven points behind Manchester City and 11 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League. That gap may widen if the Blues can’t fight through the adversity.
Benitez seems worried about his club’s prospects, as quoted by Lipton:
I think that I have explained we're playing a game every three days, more than anyone, and we have some problems with players in the ACN, and having gone to Japan for the Club World Cup. Some will say that's making excuses. But it's not excuses. It's a reality. That is the reason why the team does so well against Arsenal in the first half, and then we suffered a bit because we cannot keep the high tempo all the time. If we have bodies after the ACN then we can have more options. We are a bit short. If we have a winger and a midfielder coming back, it'll be easier to rest some players.
There are too many variables to feel comfortable with the uncertainty of creating some momentum for a push at the Premier League title. Maintaining tempo and building on momentum should be expected of a team as talented as Chelsea.
The blame can’t fall squarely on Benitez’s shoulders, though. Abramovich has been “reluctant to back Benitez in the transfer market,” and it may prove to cost the Blues dearly (via the Mirror).
Chelsea could rebound from their injury issues and make a push for the EPL title, but that is an uncertainty right now. Being more aggressive in the transfer period would have at least served to add depth and keep players fresh during this crucial time in the season. If the Blues slip in the coming weeks and lose ground on United, the club’s inability to act in January will be to blame.