There may still be 27 Premier League match-days before the end of the season, but when asking pundits or supporters who their pick is to take the English crown this year, the answer is a unanimous ‘Chelsea‘.
Indeed, the Blues have already developed quite a healthy points cushion at the top flight’s summit and although such advantages have disintegrated before, we at Football Fancast firmly believe the west Londoners will go all the way.
Why? You might ask. Well, just in case you’re not entirely convinced, here’s four signs to suggest Chelsea won’t be caught now.
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Some Chelsea fans were disappointed by the manner in which the Blues’ title charge petered out towards the end of last season – but not those firmly in the know about Jose Mourinho’s sensational record in follow-up campaigns.
At FC Porto and Inter Milan for example, it was in Mourinho’s second season that he lead both clubs to the Champions League and domestic titles.
At Real Madrid, it was the solitary campaign in which he got the better of Pep Guardiola’s Barcleona to win La Liga.
The only exception comes during Mourinho’s original tenure at Chelsea, where the Blues failed to repeat their Premier League and League Cup double of the year previous, but still retained the English title.
Indeed, it appears it takes twelve months for Mourinho’s methods and signings to truly take effect.
This is evident again over the last one-and-a-half seasons at Stamford Bridge. In that time, the Portuguese has changed almost all of the first-team spine he inherited, with the exception of John Terry and Gary Cahill, with the likes of Petr Cech, Ramires, Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres making way for Thibaut Courtois, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.
With Chelsea now possessing a quintessentially Mourinho-designed starting Xi, there’s nothing stopping the Blues gaffer prolonging his exceptional record for second seasons.
I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a Premier League table so disparate with the more traditional league standings, as shown below:
Just to confirm Chelsea’s current lead at the top compared to the title-contending regulars, they’re eight points (essentially, three wins) ahead of reigning champions Manchester City, twelve above sixth place Arsenal, 13 ahead of Manchester United, 15 from last term’s runners-up Liverpool and Tottenham, well, Tottenham aren’t even worth talking about anymore.
For Jose Mourinho to squander such an advantage from this point in the season would unquestionably constitute the biggest failure of his management career. That doesn’t sound very Mourinho-esque does it?
Of course, it’s not unheard of for a Premier League side to throw away such a healthy points cushion and resultantly, the league title.
But if the likes of Arsenal or Manchester City are to catch the Blues, they’ll have to record major wins against them directly.
Unfortunately for them however, getting the right result in the important games is what Jose Mourinho and Chelsea have always been best at. As shown below, only Manchester City matched their form against top half opposition last term:
And to look at that more closely, here’s their record against the top four from 2013/14:
Chelsea haven’t been quite as deadly this season, succumbing to away draws against Manchester City and Manchester United.
But even if the Blues were to draw against Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool between now and the summer, providing they win all their other games, they’d still have a four point lead over the incumbent champions.
Chelsea’s dependency on certain players has been pointed out by some, with an incredible seven starting every Premier League fixture thus far and four featuring in every minute of the Blues’ league campaign:
Indeed, Jose Mourinho’s not made the most of his squad domestically, but consider the players Chelsea have to come in, should one of their regular stars suffer long-term injury.
Didier Drogba for example, even at the age of 36, is a footballing god. Loic Remy has a near one-in-two strike rate in the Premier League and is frighteningly quick. German international Andre Schurrle just won the World Cup, netting thrice at Brazil 2014.
Ramires and John Obi Mikel would walk into almost any other Premier League starting Xi – including Manchester City’s. In fact, the former has the most assists-per-minute of any Premier League player this season.
Kurt Zouma is already looking like the next Sol Campbell, Filipe Luis was the best full-back in Europe last season, reaching the Champions League final with Atletico Madrid, whilst Petr Cech, along with Thibaut Courtois and Mark Schwarzer, gives Chelsea by far the most impressive goalkeeping depth in world football.
Those fringe players haven’t quite been put into practice yet, but the vast majority of them are well proven at top level and can be firmly depended upon.