Chelsea were hoping John Stones would solve their issues on the back line. For now, they'll have to settle for John Terry and Asmir Begovic.
Terry returns from his suspension looking to help Begovic and the struggling Blues continue their recent dominance of Everton in a lunchtime kickoff Saturday.
Chelsea (1-1-2) have surrendered nine goals through four matches, giving up at least two in each. That's a tremendous departure after they conceded 32 while going on to win the Premier League last season.
Stones was viewed as a solution to their porous defence, but Everton (1-2-1) rejected three bids before the summer transfer window closed, including one that was as much as £30 million.
Another bid for the English defender will have to wait, but he's reportedly looking for a £38 million release clause if he signs an extension with the Toffees.
Until then, Chelsea's problems at the back will need to be addressed internally and getting Terry back is a good start.
The Blues didn't fare well without him Aug. 29, falling 2-1 to Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. Manager Jose Mourinho questioned his club's commitment.
"That is the way you work during the week, to perform collectively and to do that you need individual performances," Mourinho told the club's official website. "At this level, when opponents are good and well-organised, with good spirit and nothing to lose, you need people to perform. I cannot say I had 11 players performing at the same time."
That level of increased performance took on added urgency Friday after starting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois suffered a knee injury during training that requires surgery. That puts Begovic, who came over from Stoke City prior to the season, into the spotlight as he makes his second start with Chelsea.
''I cannot tell you much, but I can tell you that he needs surgery in his right knee,'' Mourinho said Friday. ''As a consequence of that, he will be out for quite a long time. I cannot be at this moment more specific about the injury or the time he will be out.''
Begovic's other start was a 3-0 loss to first-place Manchester City on Aug. 16 after Courtois served his suspension for a red card in the Blues' season-opening draw versus Swansea City.
Chelsea's schedule is about to get considerably busy with the Champions League group stage starting midweek. Chelsea's next seven matches come in a span of 22 days, including a League Cup matchup with Walsall on Sept. 23.
The congestion could mean Radamel Falcao - who is trying to put knee injuries behind him - finding himself in the first team for the first time this season. All four of the forward's appearances have come off the bench, but he was one of the few bright spots against Palace, scoring his first goal of the season.
"Falcao's goal means nothing for the team but for his personal confidence it is good and he is fine," Mourinho said. "From his reaction after the goal you could see his happiness because he has come from a difficult period."
Falcao has one goal in two games against Everton, and Chelsea have won seven of the past nine matchups across all competitions (7-0-2). They got two goals from Diego Costa while winning 6-3 in their last visit to Goodison Park on Aug. 30, 2014.
Like Chelsea, Everton have only won once in four league matches but manager Roberto Martinez has a different perspective following a scoreless draw with Tottenham on Aug. 29.
"It's been a solid start because we've got a solid squad and a group of players that have been together for a long period in football," Martinez told the club's official website.
Romelu Lukaku, however, will need to be more involved against his former club. The forward scored a brace in a 3-0 win over Southampton on Aug. 15, but he hasn't managed a shot on target in two league matches since.
He's come up empty on four chances in two games against Chelsea.
The Toffees will need to get Ross Barkley involved with Lukaku. The exciting midfielder had a goal in each of the first two games of the season, but has been held without one in the past two - mustering two shots on goal.