A quick glance at the Premier League table shows Chelsea sitting in third position behind Arsenal and Manchester City. But a closer look at the remaining fixtures tells us that the Blues are actually in pole position to win the league.
Chelsea’s remaining schedule features home matches against:
• Everton and
• Newcastle United
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s away matches include trips to:
• Manchester City, and
By comparison, Manchester City face every difficult remaining opponent away from the Etihad with the exception of Chelsea. As for Arsenal, they face a balanced remaining schedule but do have to travel to Stamford Bridge and across London to White Hart Lane in what will be difficult encounters.
Jose Mourinho has never lost a home match in the league as Chelsea boss. Recently he reiterated how easy it is to win at home if you are not under any obligation to play stylish and attractive football.
“If I want to win 1-0, I think I can.
One of the easiest things in football is to win 1-0. You structure your team from the back, you organize your team from the defensive idea, you don’t give freedom to your players to express themselves.”
While Mourinho has allowed Chelsea to express themselves more in attack since the December 29 victory over Liverpool, as the title becomes nearer I would fully expect the Chelsea manager to revert to his instincts and play for results in tougher matches. The looming trips to Anfield and the Etihad are perfect opportunities to “park the bus,” and the quickness with which the Blues are moving the ball on the counter-attack thanks to Eden Hazard and Willian may give Chelsea a slight edge to gain the full three points in both matches.
Certainly a lot of English football is left to be played this season but Chelsea must be established as a clear favorite right now. No question that Manchester City and Arsenal’s form have been outstanding in recent weeks, but both clubs face more daunting remaining obstacles, more serious injury concerns and less experience in winning trophies than Chelsea.
From a neutral’s perspective, Chelsea beginning to drop points at home would be a good thing as then Mourinho will be forced to aggressively chase matches away from Stamford Bridge. But right now the season is playing out the way The Special One would have hoped despite his often negative and self-loathing commentary, which oftentimes is in fact simply mind games to wind up the opposition.