Mid-Season Review: Chelsea




Chelsea lost more than just their dignity with that defeat to Bradford, as any ambitious hopes of bagging the quadruple also went on Saturday. But the Blues have already booked their place at Wembley, are in the last 16 of the Champions League and sitting pretty five points clear at the top of the League. So let’s take a look back at how Chelsea have got to such a comfortable position this season.

Defence

There is arguably no better keeper than the Courtois in the world right now. De Gea and Neuer come very close, but the Belgian is truly a barrier in the Chelsea goal. He commands his area (something that is invaluable to defenders), has great reflexes and seems physically unable to make a mistake.

Bang Terry, Ivanovic and Cahill in front of him and that barrier becomes reinforced with the experience and solidarity that’s resulted in them keeping the most clean sheets in the league so far (11). That lapse at White Hart Lane was completely out of character and most certainly not to be repeated any time soon.

Midfield

Fabregas is the first ever player to get 15 assists in two separate league seasons, and it’s not even February. But who needs one playmaker when you can have two? If it isn’t Cesc feeding Costa and co. then Oscar will be the provider. Add Matic’s control from deep and Ramires’ energy to the mix, and you get a midfield talent rammed full of pace, flair and work rate.

Attack

It’s no secret that Diego Costa is the main man for scoring goals at Stamford Bridge. His work rate ensures that the pressure originates from the front line. His brutal physicality – as Emre Can encountered on Tuesday – terrorises defences, and his finishing is absolutely clinical.

He’s got 17 goals this season – that’s three more than Aguero, four more than Austin and six more than the entire Aston Villa squad.

Sunderland are the only team to have kept a clean sheet against the Blues this season and Chelsea have the best shooting accuracy in the league, with over 50% of shots hitting the target.

Aside from Costa, the Londoners also have Willian and Hazard tearing up both wings. The width they provide has been instrumental in breaking down teams, and sometimes even Drogba joins the party to score a goal or two.

Manager

Mourinho succeeds. He wins everywhere he goes, and there’s no reason to think that this season will be any different. He’s used to getting the best out of his players, and the Portuguese manager is an expert at pretty much everything to do with the job. His tactical genius combined with the depth and quality of Chelsea’s squad has resulted in some blistering outcomes this season. What’s more, Mourinho has done it with the kind of arrogant swagger and barely restrained ferocity you usually only ever see on battle scarred fighting dogs in the back streets of Tijuana.

Verdict

Despite the challenge of Aguero’s City, Chelsea are too strong to throw away the league in this position. A not-so-favourable reward for topping their group in Europe sees them face PSG, but they most certainly have the quality to see the French side off. Real or Bayern will be their biggest test, but this squad should be making the semis. As for the League Cup, they’re favourites to defeat Spurs – but then again, Spurs are one of just three teams to beat Chelsea this season.

 


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