Now that we’re in the international break, Chelsea sits atop the Barclay’s Premier League as the only team to record victories in all three of their opening games.
The combination of these wins, being current holders of the UEFA Champions League trophy and the impact of new signings, has lead to early optimism that Chelsea could throw off the shackles of an abysmal 2011/2012 league campaign and challenge for the title once more. In Roberto Di Matteo the fans have a manager that they can identify with, who has delivered as both player and caretaker showing encouraging signs that he can be more than just a benchwarmer for Pep Guardiola.
The club have bought well in the summer transfer window, with Eden Hazard lighting up the first month of the new season and Oscar providing promising cameos from the bench. Marko Marin has been injured but further reinforcements are available in the form of Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta; the latter adding much needed depth at right back.
Going forward Chelsea carry more of a threat than they have for years with a more free flowing form of football supported by the arrival of players more at home taking a player on than pumping the ball forward to a big man up top.
Then there is Fernando Torres who feels like a new signing as he shows signs that his fragile confidence is on the mend bagging three goals in five games that included a cracker against Newcastle. With a kind opening Premier League schedule that included two home games, three wins would have been hoped for by all but the most pessimistic Chelsea fans.
Despite this winning start only the most optimistic fan would claim that the Blues have had a flawless start to the season. Di Matteo’s men did not dominate any of these games and gifted rivals more opportunities than is sustainable. Wigan, Reading and Newcastle all found themselves left to rue missed opportunities that more talented sides will convert.
Amongst these higher quality opponents are Atletico Madrid, who thrashed the Blues in the UEFA Super Cup — a game which saw Chelsea found themselves outclassed by Atletico who were able to exploit a gap between the Chelsea midfield and back four leaving the central defense exposed and unable to cope with intelligent through-balls.
The defense were outgunned by Falcao who provided what previous opposition could not — a brilliant first touch and world class finishing that has meant that even with the transfer window shut, Chelsea are being relentlessly linked with a transfer for the hat-trick hero.
Chelsea fans must hope that this crushing defeat will serve as a wake-up call to those getting carried away by a few early victories, reminding the club that there is still rebuilding work to be done. One defeat may have changed the tone and given the start a mixed feel but there are plenty of positives to be taken and a confidence that the abysmal league campaign of last season will not be repeated.
Whether Chelsea can challenge remains to be seen but they seem more of a threat to the dominance of Manchester than they did before May 19.