Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, Chelsea are looking like the best team in the Premier League again. Whether or not they really are remains up for debate, but they do look like the real deal under Mourinho this year. Last year Chelsea finished a distant third from the Manchester clubs, but Mourinho has changed the system, and they might win the Premier League by a distance as a result.
Here are four reasons why Chelsea will be Premier League title contenders this season:
Jose Mourinho came out recently and said “if you play like Barcelona when you do not have the players, you are stupid.” Apparently he has convinced Roman Abramovich of this, because Chelsea have gone from playing fancy football to playing efficient and smart football. Chelsea set up in a 4-2-3-1 system similar to last year, however there is much more structure this year. The wide players have more defensive responsibilities, the center backs are defending deeper as well. Chelsea stay compact at the back, with the two central defenders usually dropping deep in order to defend with the ball in front of them. This is done to play to their strengths, as players like John Terry and Gary Cahill usually only concede goals when they get beaten with pace.
The two holding midfielders are told to cover the midfield area well, and even the number 10 has to come back and defend. Furthermore the full backs defend much deeper and Branislav Ivanovic is only given license to go forward during certain periods of the game. Defensively Chelsea are really hard to break down, but they have also developed on the other end.
2. Goalscoring Improvements.
Chelsea have completely upped their game on the offensive end. This is a team that went from being too narrow, and playing short passes, to being direct and lethal. Seeing Chelsea on the counter attack is really entertaining now, as they just break so quickly with pace on the wings or centrally through the likes of Ramires. When Chelsea attack, they directly look to supply the ball on the flanks and set up a bank of four across the midfield, with players joining to support the attack.
3. Build-Up Play.
Another Mourinho tactic is the build-up play. Last season Chelsea would make non threatening runs and play the ball around their opponents. This season everyone knows what they need to do and where they need to go. The striker is running directly at players through the middle or on the flanks. The wide players are being told to also run directly at players and attack the bylines. Jose Mourinho demands a lot from his players and this is illustrated the most with Juan Mata. Since Mourinho views Oscar as the number 10, the likes of Juan Mata have had to up their physical fitness in order to keep up with the demands of Mourinho. Nonetheless Mourinho’s demand seem to be working because Chelsea are just five points off first place in the Premier League, and Mourinho will be hoping to capitalize on Arsenal’s tough visit to Manchester City this weekend by securing all three points against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.