Azpilicueta had spat with Chelsea fans and now things are even worse

In pictures: Chelsea v Brentford

One year on from Chelsea fans venting their frustration at club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, the Stamford Bridge faithful could hardly have foreseen how bad things would get. As the season draws to a dismal conclusion for the Blues, co-owner Todd Boehly will soon be left to reflect on a dismal first 12 months at the helm.

Tensions boiled over at full-time when Arsenal pulled off a 4-2 victory over Chelsea last April. Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka were amongst the goals for the visitors, and while Azpilicueta was on the scoresheet for the home side, he was also central to the post-match controversy.

The Spaniard was to blame for the late penalty that allowed Arsenal to kill the game, and when he went over to acknowledge the crowd after the final whistle, he appeared to take issue with something that was said.

In a curious scene, Azpilicueta, while donning the captain’s armband, became embroiled in a heated back-and-forth with the smattering of supporters, who clearly did not know how much worse things would get at Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea went on to finish third in the Premier League under Thomas Tuchel last season, while losing in the final of both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, as well as making it to the Champions League quarter-finals.

The German was sacked only a month into this campaign and replaced by Graham Potter, who himself only lasted seven months in the dugout. Now, with Frank Lampard in temporary charge, the Blues have staggeringly gone eight games without a win, including five defeats in a row.

To make matters worse, cross-city rivals Arsenal have transformed into Premier League title contenders under Mikel Arteta this term.

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Chelsea fans have seemingly become numb to the pain, leaping to the defence of Lampard in Wednesday’s 2-0 home defeat to Brentford after travelling supporters targeted him with chants. Boos have been commonplace at Stamford Bridge this season, however, where the Blues have failed to notch a win in their last six attempts.

The club’s plight is made even more striking by Boehly’s unprecedented transfer spree over the last two windows, which has seen Chelsea break the British transfer record on Enzo Fernandez and splash a whopping £88million on Mykhaylo Mudryk.

Bizarrely, huge gaps remain in Lampard’s squad and fans were left perplexed last week when Raheem Sterling and Conor Gallagher were the only attacking players named in the starting XI against Brentford.

Just over a year on from a defeat to Arsenal proving too much for some fans to bear, they face the Gunners again on Tuesday night, where they will hope to avoid their inexplicable downfall becoming even worse.

Arteta’s side will go into the match on a mission, having dropped points in each of their last four matches to hand Manchester City a major advantage in the title race. Ominously, it seems as though things aren’t about to get any easier for Lampard, who has been unable to steady the ship since returning to the Bridge.

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