The Blues’ defeat at Newcastle was a blow, especially as Chelsea had come back from a goal behind – scored just before the break – to lead 2-1.
The usual suspects, Juan Mata and Frank Lampard, were on target, but Chelsea couldn’t hold on to the advantage, and found themselves level on 67 minutes before being beaten with a late shot from outside the area in the final minute of normal time.
It means that title dreams have evaporated, but the Blues are also under real threat of finishing outside next season’s Champions League places as Spurs, Everton and Arsenal smell blood.
Chelsea failed to address the Fernando Torres issue during the January transfer window.
Bringing in Demba Ba (whose nose was broken at St James’ Park by a kick in the face from Fabricio Coloccini) was only half a solution to the problem that simply won’t go away.
Torres lacks belief and pace, and he isn’t going to recapture either of those any time soon.
The appointment of Rafa Benitez as interim manager briefly looked to have done the trick, restoring a small measure of confidence in the centre forward by recreating the successful formula of Torres’ Liverpool days.
But that, too, petered out.
Now Chelsea have a new injury scare as they prepare to face Wigan at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Petr Cech was sent home from Turkey on Monday, where he had been training with the Czech Republic team for an international friendly.
He has injured a finger, and was being examined by the medical team at the Blues’ Cobham training ground, but the fear is that he might not only miss the Wigan game but also the two Europa League fixtures against his old club, Sparta Prague.
There’s a sense of helplessness at Stamford Bridge at the moment. The Blues aren’t playing badly, but the cloak of invincibility has been lifted, and the doubts which have crept in are proving contagious.