And why shouldn’t it? Since Jose Mourinho’s inheritance of the club, the approach that Chelsea take into games is very different to the one associated with the pre-Abramovich Premier League team. The neat passing and fluid football remains, but the soft, vulnerable underbelly no longer. Whereas the teams under Hoddle, Gullit, Vialli and Ranieri were all easy on the eye, but could never be taken seriously as contenders for the league title, Chelsea circa 2004 and since, have added a bullying quality to their play. Each game, particularly away from home, starts with them sizing up their opponents to assess what they are capable of; in Wigan’s case very little, but more of that later. On Saturday, Chelsea spent the first half hour showing Wigan that they could deal with what was thrown in their direction, before stringing together a goal of near nonchalance, simply to show how things should be done.
Wigan are in trouble
Even at this ludicrously premature stage of the season you fear for both Roberto Martinez’s team and his own employment. As mentioned briefly above, for the first third of Saturday’s encounter, Wigan had plenty of the ball (65% possession at one point), and with the exception of speculative efforts at goal, created very little. There are some good players in their side: Rodallega has proved to be another successful example of Wigan’s world scouting team, McCarthy is neat and tidy and N’Zogbia (assuming he is still there in September) could play in a whole host of PL teams. At the back however, they are left wanting; there is a lack of steel, communication and understanding, and most brutally, a serious lack of a leader to haul his troops out of dire situations.
The fixture list has been kind to Chelsea
Really, really, kind if we’re being honest. The same processes that have warmly shone down on Ancelotti, have breathed an iciness fitting of the French FA on Roy Hodgson, as his Anfield rebuild faces the brunt of Arsenal and both sides of Manchester by mid-September. Incidentally, the process is actually far more complicated than I initially anticipated, and I recommend worth learning about. Games against Stoke (H), West Ham (A) and Blackpool (H) next up for Chelsea, have rendered any pre-season rustiness meaningless, as they get in their groove before their first big test at Eastlands in a month’s time. The encounter may be a wake-up call of the ruder persuasion for Chelsea, but with how settled the team is becoming, Roberto Mancini might be witness to how a team is put together.
John Terry faces more scrutiny than ever
This is not to say Terry is unaware of how a spotlight feels, but after taking his alpha-male misdemeanours last season into account, and a World Cup that can be described as underwhelming at best, the former England captain must be without fault in every outing to keep onside. Overall he had a good game at the DW, but a couple of early slips and surly trips stopped the performance being perfect. The worrying thing for Chelsea fans is that it seems plausible that the only person who doesn’t know about the scrutiny is Terry himself. It is a difficult equation to balance out; he has to be more wary of his actions, but I wouldn’t want him to compromise the style and approach of play that has made him the player he is.
Chelsea have the best frontline in the league
I have considered this for a while before making such a bold statement, but I make it because I can’t see a frontline of one, two or three (depending on whatever formations are in use) that has the combination of attributes possessed by Drogba, Anelka and Malouda. Regardless of the type of game they are involved in, they can break a team down: from pace on the counter, from running with the ball at defences, from sheer brutality, from set-pieces, in dull tired games, in tight careful games, in old school box-to-box games, or in free-scoring routs, they relentlessly answer the call. Between them, they plundered 67 goals in all competitions last season, and they already have 8 in two games this term. While the likes of Torres, Rooney, Van Persie are all fantastic players, few have found a combination that works so well. No team boasts the firepower that Chelsea possess.
Get updates on my articles by following me on twitter.