In a season that saw the London club challenge for both the premier league and the Champions League titles right down to the last couple of matches, the failure to win any silverware last season was met by the fans and Chelsea’s administration with surprising calmness. Several players and the charismatic Jose Mourinho had tagged the season as a transition for the club, who just the season before had brought in the Spanish tactician Rafa Benitez and promptly tagged him as ‘interim’.
Jose Mourinho in his press conference stated that he would prefer working with the players, before making any decisions about who was to leave. To the surprise of many of the clubs fans who had expected him to ‘clean house’.
This season has been radically different, with pundits, managers and fans alike tipping the blues to pick up the league title this season. In this article, we will take a look at why we think they’re right.
- The Return Of The Special One
Jose Mourinho’s return to the bridge was hailed by many as Chelsea’s return to its glory days of Premier League domination. However, results fell far short of expectations as the blues only managed a 3rd place finish. However certain things in last season’s campaign showed why Jose is a revered tactician and man manager. One of it being the defensive solidarity, juxtaposed with the lightening speed at which Chelsea countered opponents. This ensured that no team that came out to play open attacking football triumphed against the blues. Another thing that signalled a change was the fact that Chelsea never lost to a rival club in the league last season. Refusing to lose to a rival is a trait that is in fact synonymous with the Chelsea Boss.
Despite his lack of silverware last season, many observers are adamant in their belief that Chelsea now have a bit more colour and identity to them with the return of the recently self proclaimed ‘happy one’.
- The Exodus Of The Strikers
The trio of Samuel Eto, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba compared to some of the league’s top strikers made for a very pathetic result. Neither separately or put together did any of the Chelsea front men surpass the goal scoring of rival strikers like Luis Suarez, Sergio Arguero. The latter, being instrumental to his team Manchester City winning the league. With the Chelsea strikers not doing their job, the attacking midfield of Oscar, hazard, Willian and Schurlle had it all to do. The Heroics of strikers like Suarez and Arguero showed that for a team to perform at its maximum, the strikers have to perform at their maximum as well. No wonder both Liverpool and Manchester City finished above the sometimes toothless Chelsea.
Chelsea managing to offload all 3 of their underperforming strikers was in itself one of the best things about their summer.
- Buying Well
Chelsea summer window saw the purchases of the 2nd best striker in the world last season after Luis Suarez in the person of Diego Costa. It also ushered in the further purchases of the best Left back in Europe last season – Filipe Luiz and Cesc Fabregas, one of the world’s elite midfielders.
The acquisition of Kurt Zouma although seemingly underwhelming, sees the import into the league of the most physically and athletically gifted young defender in the world, after Varane of Real Madrid.
Of the four major signings, only two have played significantly enough to be objectively assessed. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas being the players in question, have between them 4 goals and 4 assists in just 3 games. In these signings, Chelsea have gotten two types of players that they didn’t have last season…a prolific goal scorer and a deep lying playmaker.
In a race for the title these signings will proof significant.
- Breaking Down The ‘small’ Teams
It’s been mentioned earlier in the article, that Chelsea triumphed over every title contender last season. The problem seemed to emanate from their encounters with the smaller teams in the league. Chelsea lost matches against teams such as Crystal palace, Newcastle and Sunderland. These losses basically cost them the title. A major reason a team like Chelsea would fall apart against opponent supposedly easy on paper would be the fact that these teams defended in a very low block and usually in 3 banks of four shielding their defense. It has been put forth, that the reason the blues fail to make an impression on sides like these, is because they also play exactly the same way when facing a side with superior attacking prowess. It is, as they say a case of only knowing how to dish it out and not being able to take it.
With the season already three games gone and having faced two ‘smaller’ teams the blues have been able to play incisively enough to break down the opposition. Something Jose Mourinho confirmed that they had worked on in training. Admittedly three matches is a small sample size, but the blues are off to good start, winning all three and scoring ten goal.
Chelsea has always been a good side. The feeling however is that they have become not only better but more effective. Buying better players in football doesn’t necessarily make you a better team (Manchester united- a recent case study).
It is my belief that Chelsea is poised to win the title this season. The aforementioned reasons are exactly why.