It was 97 days ago since the last Premier League match when Chelsea ended up winning the 2009-2010 Premier League title after emphatically beating Wigan Athletic 8-0. On that same day, Manchester United tried to pip them to title but couldn’t do so even after defeating Stoke City 4-0. Now that the new season of the Premier League has kicked off, Chelsea delivered another thrashing, this time beating West Bromwich Albion by a score of six to nil.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is getting tiresome.
The difference between clubs near the top of the Premier League compared to the ones at the bottom is widening. Sure, to make that judgement on the first day of the season is premature, but I’m basing it more on the previous few seasons. The number of one-sided matches seems to be increasing. If you’re a supporter of the winning team or you like to see goals, it’s a beautiful thing. But for neutral observers such as myself, the object is to watch a game where both teams playing have a good chance to beat each other. Sure sometimes one-sided games, or a draw, but when teams like Chelsea monopolize matches so much, they become increasingly boring for viewers to watch. It’s like watching a film where you within the first few minutes of it starting, you can already guess what the plot is, you know what the ending is and there is very little suspense.
When Chelsea plays at home in the Premier League, the games are so predictable that it makes you wonder how teams can even beat the Blues. Other than Manchester City’s well-deserved 4-2 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this past February when Carlos Tevez was the inspiration, the last time that Chelsea lost at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League was 474 days earlier than that defeat against Manchester City when the Blues lost against Arsenal on November 11, 2008. Chelsea’s home record in the league is even more impressive when you consider how impenetrable Stamford Bridge was in the league when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
In fairness to Chelsea, I don’t believe they should change a thing. They’re an incredibly talented side that does what great teams do best. They play team football. It’s just that the teams that play against them seem incapable of defeating Chelsea. If Chelsea’s opposition plays defensive soccer with ten players behind the ball, that tactic is too one-dimensional and will only work for so long before Chelsea finds a way to open up the team. And once a side is losing against Chelsea, it’s very rare that they can come back against them. And if they try, they’re usually exposed at the back and the margin of defeat usually ends being worse.
Having said that, I’m not asking that Chelsea lose some of their home games at Stamford Bridge. I would just like to see an exciting match with end-to-end action where the opposition gives Chelsea a run for its money. Yes, it’s the first day of the season and West Bromwich Albion, a yo-yo club just promoted from the Championship, was unlikely to beat Chelsea, but Chelsea’s near-perfection at home is getting incredibly boring. No matter how many wonderful goals they score or how well they play, it would mean that much more if the opposition pushed them to their limits and Chelsea was still able to win.
The 2010-11 Premier League isn’t a day old yet but I hope that clubs find a way to challenge Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It’s not as if the stadium itself is a fortress. It’s not intimidating and the supporters are relatively sedate (it’s definitely not the intimidating atmosphere of Stamford Bridge in the late 70s when they were the most feared hooligans in the country). At Stamford Bridge, it’s what happens on the pitch that matters. Depending on what formation Ancelotti picks, there are weaknesses in the Chelsea side especially in the back where Paulo Ferreira is suspect at times and where Alex and John Terry are often susceptible to mistakes from set plays or dangerous crosses.
Chelsea are so good in the league at home that one of the few occasions each season when they’re tested at Stamford Bridge is against Manchester United. But even United has difficulty getting three points against Chelsea at the Bridge. The last time it happened was in 2002 when a much different Chelsea side were defeated 3-0 with goals by Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Congratulations to Chelsea on their emphatic and well-deserved 6-0 win against West Brom today. But looking at their upcoming home fixtures, it doesn’t look like they’ll be losing at home anytime soon. Their next home matches are against Stoke City and Blackpool, which is then followed by a tougher challenge on October 3rd when they play London rivals Arsenal. Maybe then it’ll be more competitive? Maybe.