I intend to focus on the possible reasons for Chelsea’s ‘uncharacteristic’ form, as well as focusing on why Man Utd’s resilient and commanding style of play could land them a 12th Premier League Title.
The statistics make for very grim reading if you support Chelsea; four points from the last 15 available speaks volumes at a club that has become almost accustomed to quality and consistency on the field. Suffice to say that something has gone wrong.
We are all aware of Ray Wilkins’ shock departure from the club; made so strange considering the success the club has experienced in recent times. Wilkins had clearly formed a good relationship with Carlo Ancelotti, demonstrated by constant communication during games and the positive things that each has to say about the other. Yes, appearances can be deceiving, however in this case I believe all was as it seemed.
Ancelotti’s control over Wilkins dismissal may have been minimal, which could imply that he was not entirely happy about the decision. I refuse to believe that Chelsea’s form is not at all linked to this change in personnel. I envisage the senior squad players being particularly upset about such a change. I am sure you as a reader would agree that creating unrest amongst a group can only have debilitating effects.
Chelsea seem to lack squad depth. I of course recognise that the absence of some very key players has resulted in changes, but Chelsea teams of previous seasons have simply replaced quality with quality. Chelsea’s bench against Newcastle consisted of Van Aanholt, Bruma, McEachran and Kakuta; whilst they are quality young players you simply cannot rely on these players making an impact when it matters most. Compare this with Man Utd on Saturday and you see names like Giggs, Hernandez and Fletcher who can certainly have an impact.
Injuries to John Terry and Frank Lampard in particular have really hurt the Chelsea side. We all have our own opinions on John Terry, however I think his presence on the pitch gives the side an incredible boost; particularly in psychological terms. Similarly Lampard is essentially the engine room of the side. He makes the side tick, moving the ball around quickly and effectively and pulling the strings by linking play together. Furhermore, Lampard’s record in front of goal has been outstanding. 22 league goals in 2009/10 is a magnificent return. Many forget that Lampard is very rarely injured; this is shown be the number of appearances he has made in recent seasons. I think his absence has perhaps proved most costly.
Finally, Man Utd. What can we say? A resounding 7-1 win against Blackburn has opitimised what the club are all about. Just when a rival team begins to show the slightest signs of weakness Utd raise their game. The club remain unbeaten in 15 Premier League matches, which despite drawing 6 games away from home has seen them take a slender two point lead at the top of the league.
Dimitar Berbatov bagged five goals in the demolition of Blackburn, which showed United fans once again that he has got the quality in his locker, but whether he can maintain his goal-scoring form remains to be seen. It is nice to see that the Wayne Rooney sage has not completely clouded what has been a very successful period for Man Utd.
So what do you think will happen as the season continues? Can Chelsea get back to winning ways once their key players return? I imagine that even two or three months down the line will not provide use with a crystal clear indication of who will win the Premier League this season. Of course, we will be better equipped to make an educated guess, but I see the title as being a two horse race between the usual suspects. I would suggest that Man Utd’s unbeaten start to the season coupled with Chelsea’s wayward form will give them the psychological boost in what is a telling time in the Premier League season.