So far, Carlo Ancelotti has had it easy this season. The only times he has risen off his manager’s chair is to celebrate the blitzkrieg of goals his Blues have been putting in the back of the net. The Premier League champions have 5 wins out of 5 with a whopping goal difference of +20.
On paper, their dominance is astounding. However, the teams that Chelsea has faced so far are mediocre at best. Three of them (Stoke City, Wigan, West Ham) occupy the bottom of the Premier League table while Blackpool and West Brom are still viewed as relegation fodder although being mid-table at present. Chelsea should have and did win these games by a resounding margin. As champions, they have continued a strong run of form that is not surprising, although there is a small crack in the foundation that Ancelotti will want to patch up immediately.
This cause for concern is how Chelsea, while appearing invincible, can lose focus for stretches in a match. This was evident in how although winning at West Ham 3-1, forward Victor Obinna was able to penetrate into the box on numerous occasions. If Robert Green didn’t have another spot of woeful defending and Obinna actually finished his stirring runs, West Ham could have had a draw in front of their home fans. As for the Blackpool match, yes, Chelsea was up 4-0 at halftime. So they took their foot off of the gas a little….and it showed. Blackpool was able to control the midfield and have a good handful of chances to pull a couple back in their favor.
This Saturday, Chelsea will need to focus 110% as they face their first real test this season playing away to Manchester City, an opponent slated for European competition next season, not the Championship. City was only one of two teams that defeated Chelsea twice last season, the second victory a 4-2 demolition at the fortress that is Stamford Bridge. Carlos Tevez scored a total of three goals in those two games and will be on the prowl for more alongside new strike partner David Silva. Coming off of their last two wins over Wigan and SV Salzburg in the Europa League, they are starting to look more composed than at the beginning of the season. A win over the undefeated Chelsea could propel them even more to reach the top of the Premier League table. However, Chelsea will have their stalwarts John Terry and Frank Lampard back from injury. They also have probably the best tandem in the midfield in Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel, both playing to their fullest potential. And who would have thought Drogba would actually like passing the ball?
Will Chelsea prove their champion credentials or falter for the third time in a row against a resurgent Manchester City? One thing is for certain, Ancelotti will be up off his chair a lot more….
Davis Hirsch writes for The US Footballer, a blog focusing on US Soccer and MLS. Check out his writings at http://www.usfootballer.com/