While Chelsea’s 2017-18 Premier League season hasn’t gotten off to the same blistering start as their previous campaign, context is important.
The pace Manchester City have set has every other contender thinking they’re worse than they are.
The numbers don’t lie – and while Chelsea can open up any spreadsheet they want, the golden number is 43. That’s how many points City have accumulated in just fifteen games. Yet, instead of making direct comparisons to their year-on-year progression as a club, the desire to land trophies has them second-guessing themselves.
Conte’s men currently sit eleven points off the pace, which it and of itself should be a worrying statistic. However, it’s entirely possible that this Man City outfit are one of the best to ever play in the Premier League. While that doesn’t offer a ray of sunshine to anyone on the Fulham Road, it’s been far from a bad start to the season.
Instead the blame may lie with the transfer business. Despite bringing in big names like Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko, they’re merely replacements and little else followed. When you consider Chelsea could conceivably have an extra thirteen games this year, that’s nowhere near enough quality to bolster a side; allowing rotation without considerable drop-off in quality.
That’s yesterday’s problem, though – and football fans like to blame everything on the current ill-flavour of the week. Yet, Chelsea have kept four clean sheets in their last six.
That’s championship form and a quick look at previous years’ league tables will tell you that. Now, this isn’t a perfect science in retrospect, but should still provide some insight. Ten wins and two draws from fifteen games – thirty-two points.
Last year, they would have been two points off top spot with that total. Two years ago? Top.
Only a point would have separated them from the summit in 2014/15 and the season prior to that – three points.
When you replace key pieces of your side and add in a more hectic schedule, acclimatisation is important. Opening day defeat to the Republic of Ireland aka Burnley at the Bridge set alarm bells ringing, but as a game in isolation, little came from it.
Being undone by a single goal against Man City seems the standard this year, and the loss to Palace is the final blotch on the copybook.
Two disappointing results in fifteen means something’s going right and the premature angst stinks.
Chelsea’s next six league games are against West Ham, Huddersfield, Southampton, Everton, Brighton and Stoke. A key clash with Arsenal awaits on January 3rd, before they face a run of games against Leicester, Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford and West Brom. In those twelve games, as it stands, two are against top-eight opposition. City play United and Spurs in their next three games.
There’s nobody saying Chelsea have a huge chance at winning this league title, but what people should be saying, is that a five-point differential after a poor off-season and an added Champions League schedule is far from disaster territory.
What people should be saying, is that their upcoming run of games is far more favourable than Guardiola’s…