Size is everything

Chelsea need a big win against a big club. It’s as simple as that.

Defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal mean it’s absolutely vital Sunday’s home game against Liverpool brings a victory over one of the top six sides in the country.

And it’s much more about the potential psychological effect of another failure – even though the nine-point gap to leaders Manchester City is already disturbingly large.

As well as they played at Old Trafford, and as unlucky as they undoubtedly were, they still lost.

The chance to prove that the loss owed more to misfortune than mismanagement ended in spectacular failure in the next big test against the Gunners.

“Fifteen goals league conceded this season – 10 more than at this stage last term – tells its own story.”

The second-half capitulation raised plenty of questions that never looked like needing answering prior to that alarming demonstration of pub-football defending so rarely seen at Stamford Bridge these days.

Twenty-plus years ago it happened all too often. But since the mid-to-late nineties it’s been refreshingly rare.

What Jose Mourinho would have made of it is pretty obvious – and probably unrepeatable.

No protege of his would embrace the sort of calamitous display that saw four goals conceded in 25 minutes.

The fifth, gut-wrenching as it was, can be dismissed as an almost inevitable consequence of game-chasing.

But, before that, the lack of cohesion and awareness, failure to track runners, poor positioning, sudden inability to grasp the offside law and general incompetence exhibited in that second half was deeply disturbing.

Arsenal could have scored pretty much every time they attacked. And even more worryingly they were not that impressive – Robin van Persie aside.

They looked ordinary, defensively fragile, and there for the taking. That side will not win the league.

Torres' goal was the high point of the visit to Old Trafford

Maybe that’s harsh because they were missing key players. But that is the point; they were battered 8-2 at Manchester United and had Chelsea maintained their composure and discipline, they could have been brushed aside again.

Worryingly, the many impressive wins this season have come against lesser opposition.

And while those victories have usually shown the style, quality and dominance required, they need backing up.

Fifteen goals league conceded this season – 10 more than at this stage last term – tells its own story.

Defensively, the Arsenal game showed a bizarre gung-ho approach that spits in the face of pretty much everything Blues fans have become accustomed to over the years.

It can be put it down to a horrible blip, a freak result or a disastrous trip down memory lane that will maybe galvanise and shape the team for the rest of the season – because that sort of humiliation hurts.

A similar performance and result on Sunday is unthinkable.

But recent woes will be forgotten should Andre Villas-Boas mastermind a convincing victory over an inconsistent Liverpool side that still harbour title ambitions.