Chelsea’s bizarre car-crash season stumbles on after defeat at Stoke, with fans hardly daring to look at the Premier League table.

After getting used to so much success over so many years, the Blues were probably overdue a lean spell.

What’s baffling is the timing. Having made few changes to the squad, how can a team that cantered to the title suddenly be so pants?

Never mind Jose Mourinho’s paranoia, it’s Diego Costa’s aggression which is starting to worry everyone in SW6.

At the Britannia stadium last weekend, Costa was doing a brilliant job of winding himself up, never mind his effect on the opposition.

His positional instincts are deserting him, and his self-control is patchy. Spiteful lunges and sneaky elbows are going to be spotted by referees, alerted to the bearded Spaniard’s fall-back tactics.

At times it seems Chelsea bought a prize-fighter in the summer of 2014, rather than a centre forward.

Life is rarely dull in west London, but the current situation is exceptional. With Chris Ramsey and Kit Symons both given the elbow, there has been a real possibility that QPR, Fulham and Chelsea might all be managerless in the space of a week.

Yet Jose remains in place, with the absence of any obvious replacement meaning the Special One still has time to turn things around.

After the international break, the Blues face Norwich, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Spurs in rapid succession.

Mourinho’s current frustration can only be imagined. Just as he needs to work with his players, everyone disappears on other duties.

Were Chelsea to dip out of the Champions League, the Europa League could suddenly become the must-watch competition in England with, potentially, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Man Utd and Liverpool all vying for glory – and the added spice of the trophy itself being the Blues’ only automatic route back into next season’s top European competition.

Interesting days.