Schalke in a sorry state
Schalke are in a crisis.
The Royal Blues, who finished third in the Budesliga last season, were crushed 4-1 by Borussia Moenchengladbach last Saturday.
They are third from the bottom with just one point and a goal difference of minus four. That point came from a 1-1 draw with champions Bayern Munich.
Schalke, who also lost 2-1 to third-tier Dynamo Dresden in the opening round of the German Cup a month ago, sought more consistency this season after last season's roller-coaster ride.
But coach Jens Keller has yet to get the most out of a talented squad, with Kevin-Prince Boateng sluggish in midfield and attacking midfielder Julian Draxler and Dutch international striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar playing below par.
Keller's cause has not been helped by injuries to defenders Felipe Santana and Joel Matip, while other injured squad players are also out and restricting his options.
Forward Sidney Sam, who arrived from Bayer Leverkusen, has not yet added the pace to their game they expected, and their defence has let in seven goals in their three league games.
With Chelsea waiting in the Champions League, Keller (above) knows time is running out for him to start delivering.
"There is no point in talking much about it now," he said, after last Saturday's defeat at Gladbach.
"We will now work hard in the coming days, lick our wounds and pick ourselves up. We want to present ourselves well, but we are not at eye level with Chelsea at this time."
However, Schalke skipper Benedikt Howedes, who is also unavailable due to injury, is hopeful that they can shrug off their disappointing start to the German domestic season.
"We have always managed to put in good performances in the Champions League, even when we were not having the best run in the Bundesliga," said the Germany international defender.
"We don't have to do the running against Chelsea, and that might be an advantage." - Wire Services.