Carlo Ancelotti admits Chelsea have lost their early season swagger which saw them race away at the top of the Premier League. The Blues boss, who has seen his side lose three of their last four league games, will take his team to Newcastle on Sunday still missing the experience of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien.
But it is the loss of the fear factor, experienced by teams in the past against Chelsea, which Ancelotti pinpoints as most crucial.
Ancelotti said: "At the beginning of the season, when you're winning 6-0, you can put pressure on teams. Now a lot of teams have improved their confidence to play us.
"This is normal. We've had some problems playing against particular teams."
But the Italian is bewildered why Chelsea's free-scoring game - only one goal in their last four league matches - has dried up over the past month.
Ancelotti said: "I am surprised about this. From the beginning of the season we didn't have a problem scoring or winning games.
"The last few games, particularly away from home, we weren't able to score. Our statistic has gone down from 21 per cent to 6 per cent in shots converted. We have to improve that.
"Against Sunderland we played very poorly. The other games, we've played well. We created a lot of opportunities to score and were sometimes unlucky. We have to stay more in focus.
"I said those first few weeks (of the season) wasn't real football. It was PlayStation football. But I didn't think it would be possible for us only to score once in four games.
"But it's not the time to speak about the missing players. We have to stay focused on the players we have. They have good ability and have put in good performances before this period. The others will come back and give support to the team when they're ready."