5 Reasons Chelsea Will Finish Behind Manchester City
So Chelsea isn’t invincible after all. The streak just ended and Manchester City is only three points behind Jose Mourhino’s team.
It was supposed to be a troubled season for the champions. Manuel Pellegrini decided he didn’t need to blow any more oil money strengthening his squad in the summer transfer market, his superstar midfielder Yaya Toure supposedly wanted out and City stumbled with losses to traditionally easy marks like West Ham United and Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Chelsea was already being crowned champions with less than half of the season played. New buys Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were instant hits and the indefatigable Mourhino appeared to have found the balance he was seeking between toughness and creativity.
Now all bets are off. It’s a two horse race and Man. City are fast coming up on the outside.
City already has more points than it had this time last year and has a track record of improving right down to the wire. Last season, Chelsea collapsed under the pressure, unable to find a way to break down inferior team defenses.
Who’s to say the dark blues won’t crumble again?
The Chelsea v Manchester City fixture on January 31, the final weekend of the transfer window, could end up deciding the whole thing.
Here’s 5 reasons why I think Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Newcastle on Saturday spells the beginning of the end of the club’s title dream.
1. Sergio Aguero's goal-scoring
Sergio Aguero has struck 19 times in all competitions this season and has directly contributed to 54.5% of City’s goals in the Premier League. The Argentinian goal machine has had 74 shots – more than any other player in Europe’s top leagues, including Cristiano Ronaldo. That’s pretty impressive by any standards. Much will depend on how long he is out with a ligament strain he suffered in the 1-0 weekend victory against Everton. Although Diego Costa also had a great start for Chelsea with 11 goals, there’s a feeling out there that opposing defenders may have found him out. He hasn’t hit the net in his last two outings and looks short of ideas. Maybe the beast has been tamed.
2. Yaya Toure's resurgence
Yaya Toure seems to have rediscovered his appetite for the game after dealing with the tragedy of his brother’s death. The midfield maestro took a lot of unfair flack over his performances earlier in the season but is back scoring goals. When he’s on his game, Toure is unstoppable. Like Costa, Fabregas has earned his rave reviews. But he is beginning to have difficulty unlocking defenses and he has a premier league monkey on his back – he was part of a trophy-less Arsenal side. Also, he falls behind James Milner in the best minutes per chances created ratio in the premier league.
3. Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard is a winner. He proved it time and again with Chelsea and they may live to rue the day they let him go to City. There’s no way he’s joining up with his new colleagues in MLS while City are fighting it out for the top spot. Lampard has something to prove to his old club whatever he says and would like nothing better than pipping them to the premiership post.
4. Jose Mourinho's tendencies
Jose Mourhino is a master against the other top teams. He lives to mastermind victories against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. But his teams have trouble grinding out wins against 10-man defenses. In recent weeks, first Sunderland and then Newcastle thwarted Chelsea’s famously talented strike force. Pellegrini trusts his team to roll over poorer opposition with the same ruthless efficiency that marked its first victory season.
5. Chelsea's shaken confidence
During their 23-win run, Chelsea started every game with the absolute belief that they would come out on top. Now that belief has been shaken. Doubt has crept in. Days after Chelsea battled out a 0-0 draw with Sunderland, City beat the Black Cats 4-1. Confidence is everything in football and right now the pendulum has swung back to Manchester City.