Chelsea FC have been one of the most successful clubs in English football over the last decade. A return of 13 trophies since Roman Abramovich took over in 2004 is a testament to this fact. This incredible success often places Chelsea as a favourite to win the Premier League title at the start of the season. Yet, the blues have won the league only three times during this period.
Manchester United, who have spent a lesser amount of money during this period, have five. Even recent entrants to the league title race, Manchester City, have two to their name.
As we head into the Premier League 2014-15 title race, we take a look at the key challenges and positive aspects that lies ahead for the blues.
1. Mourinho’s Second Season:
Under Jose Mourinho, we possibly have the best manager to win league titles. The Portuguese will be entering into his second season after coming back to Chelsea last summer.
After a trophy laden 10 years in his managerial career, Mourinho finished without a major trophy for the second consecutive season. Every great manager goes through spells of difficulty or lull in their careers. There have been suggestions that this is Mourinho’s time.
Mourinho’s tactical brilliance was applauded in matches against the top teams last season, as Chelsea emerged victorious in seven out of the 11 matches. However, the manager was partly to blame for the team’s inability to perform against lower opposition.
Dropped points against teams from the bottom like West Ham, Crystal Palace, and Sunderland were seen as the chief reasons for not winning the title last season.
2. Squad Depth:
Winning the league title takes more than a great starting line-up. The key is to have a great squad capable of overcoming injuries, suspensions, and poor form over the course of nine months of football. The blues are certainly weak in some areas of the pitch and the sale of Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne in January didn’t help matters either. The form of the strikers was a huge concern. Mourinho never had a striker even close to top form throughout the campaign.
Chelsea have so far signed three players in this transfer window. There are also several players like Romelu Lukaku, Oriol Romeu, and Christian Atsu returning from their loans spells. Mourinho likes to work with the squad of 25. Those 25 will become clear towards the end of the transfer window.
Further, there is also the possibility of Didier Drogba returning to the Bridge. Mourinho confirmed interest in the 36-year-old, who is now a free agent.
3. New Spine:
Chelsea have strengthened the spine of the team in this transfer window. We have brought in three first-team players for £77 million. Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis are expected to be first-team regulars in the coming campaign. The decision to recall Thibaut Courtois from his loan spell could see Chelsea featuring a new goalkeeper as well. It will be interesting to see how the team reacts to such wholesale changes to the spine.
Fabregas and Costa strengthen an area where Chelsea were quite poor last season. Much of Chelsea’s attacking threat came from Eden Hazard, but Fabregas will now provide a new dimension. The former Barcelona midfielder ranks as the top chance creator (27 clear-cut chances) in Europe’s top leagues for the 2013-14 season.
Diego Costa, meanwhile, will provide the clinical finishing that Chelsea sorely missed in a number of matches. He scored 27 league goals last campaign, which is close to what the trio of Torres, Eto’o, and Ba achieved (31) in all competitions.
The current odds of Chelsea winning the title are 2/1. It is not an amazing value bet according to pundits who feel that the 2/1 odds show the bookmakers have priced the market about right. It’s probably one of the more accurate tipping sources when it comes to markets and prices.
Despite the intense competition, Chelsea should be able to win the Premier League title.