There’s no doubting it, Chelsea’s result against Manchester City last Monday made anyone with an interest in the Premier League sit up and take notice and no matter what Mourinho says a lot of people are now taking the West London side as serious title contenders.
Even if it is a year ahead of the Portuguese master’s plans the result on Saturday against Newcastle confirmed what many already knew about the current crop of Chelsea players and their realistic title chances this term.
Mourinho has tried his best to play down any talk of the title ending up at Stamford Bridge this season, instead pointing towards the fact that Manchester City and Arsenal have underperformed. However, any team leading the way with 13 games to go has to be taken seriously and the next five games could be an extremely important period in Mourinho’s first season back at the Bridge.
With this in mind, we jumped at the chance to take a look at the games that lie ahead for Chelsea over the next month and a half.
We decided to exclusively look at the next five Premier League games for Chelsea, which of course have very important games sandwiched in between them like the FA Cup clash with Manchester City at the weekend and the return of Didier Drogba in the Champions League tie with Galatasaray.
These matches deserve their own build up so for now the League will be our main focus, even if Jose himself may not see it that way.
Next Five League Games
The next challenge for Chelsea obviously comes on Tuesday night away at West Brom, and the Hawthorns hasn’t exactly been a happy hunting ground for Chelsea of late. Last season Hazard scored the only goal for Chelsea as West Brom ran out 2-1 winners and a late Gareth McAuley winner was the final nail in AVB’s coffin the season before.
Tuesday’s game can be expected to a very different clash with two new managers going head to head for the second season in a row. Pepe Mel spent last season managing in La Liga and can take confidence in how his Betis side managed to take three points at home against Mourinho’s Madrid.
Mel’s start to life in England, though, has been far from straightforward with just two points from his first four games.
Up next after West Brom for Chelsea is the visit of Everton to Stamford Bridge, a matchup in which recent history favours the home side. Martinez has enjoyed an impressive start at Everton, but Romelu Lukaku will be unavailable against his parent club and Everton may struggle without their main front man this season.
Even without Lukaku, Martinez has beaten Chelsea this season and Chelsea have to be wary of the threat caused by a side chasing a top four finish.
Chelsea will kick off March with a West London Derby away to Fulham, a game in which many would argue form and stats count for little but Chelsea are unbeaten in the last five visits to Craven Cottage and they can boast the same record against Tottenham at home the game after.
Fulham have struggled for form of late but will boosted by the result at Old Trafford on Sunday; the first point that they have taken from a side in the top half of the table this season. We are also still waiting to see the full effect of Tim Sherwood at Tottenham, but early results have been positive.
Visit to Villa Park:
Rounding off the next five league games for Chelsea will be a trip to Villa Park to take on an Aston Villa side. Arguably, Villa’s best performances have come away from home this season having picked up wins against Arsenal and a draw at Anfield, but they did win against City at Villa Park in September.
As much as Mourinho is trying his best to talk Chelsea out of title contention this season all fans know that his side are in the running. There is a lot of football still to be played and with the amount of twists and turns already this season the title race is sure to go down to the wire.
This may well be a reason for Mourinho insisting he is looking ahead to next season when his team will be even more of a force, but there is no doubting that success this season would be just as welcome.
There is no reason why the optimism that is growing around Stamford Bridge, which has only been fuelled by Eden Hazard’s demolition job of Newcastle at the weekend, will show any sign of letting up soon.
Mourinho’s form at Stamford Bridge has already well documented. Hence, he will be aware that results away from home could be the difference this season. If he can successfully steer his side through the next five games he may well have a hard job convincing people that his team is the little horse in this season title race.
This is a guest article from Charles at kickoff.co.uk.