Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Are Chelsea the Premier League’s leading title contender this season?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 22 Sep 2021

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Eventually putting on a second-half romp over the weekend as they landed a thumping 3-0 win in north London, Chelsea have really come flying out the traps since opening the 2021/22 campaign.

Lifting the Champions League trophy back in May as they clinched a 1-0 victory against Manchester City out in Portugal, the Blues have only gone from strength to strength since bringing Thomas Tuchel to Stamford Bridge.

Breezing their way past bitter rivals Tottenham on Sunday afternoon, Chelsea have played their way to the top of the Premier League table and their stacked squad are showing no signs of slowing down.

With the mood in their camp at a red-hot high, have Tuchel’s side managed to cement their spot as the early-season title favourite?

Chelsea’s defensive steel

While Chelsea might have gained a reputation under Frank Lampard for their issues at the back, a huge part of the Blues’ resurge under the former PSG boss has come thanks to their gritty resolve defensively.

Recording another clean sheet in their 3-0 win against Spurs over the weekend, the west London outfit have now conceded just a single goal across any of their six competitive contests since opening the 2021/22 campaign.

In fact, since Tuchel took charge at Stamford Bridge back in January, his side has remarkably recorded more clean sheets in that time than they have conceded goals.

Showing their resolve as they battled to an impressive 1-1 draw away at Anfield last month, despite having to play the whole of the second-half with 10 men, Tuchel has also managed to bring out the best in the likes of Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen.

While it might have appeared at the end of Lampard’s reign that neither of the central defenders had a future at Stamford Bridge, the duo have formed a partnership that have shipped just a single goal in over 500 minutes of action.

With Tuchel having to ability to play with both a four and a five at the back, the experience of Sunday’s hero Thiago Silva has certainly given Chelsea quite the defensive foundation.

Lukaku the last piece of the puzzle?

Although Kai Havertz’s goal out in Portugal back in May might have handed Chelsea their second Champions League crown, it was no secret last season that Tuchel was on the search for more firepower.

Despite Timo Werner making a £50million move to west London from RB Leipzig back in June 2020, the German international struggled to find his feet and a new number nine was at the top of Tuchel’s wishlist.

Electing to break the bank over the summer and bring back former striker Romelu Lukaku in what was a blockbuster deal, the 28-year-old marksman has cemented his spot as an immediate hit at Stamford Bridge.

Marking his Premier League return as he found the net against Arsenal with what was a bullish display at the Emirates, the record-breaking Belgian ace appears to be the final piece of Tuchel’s puzzle.

Bagging the winner as Chelsea opened the defence of their Champions League crown with a 1-0 win against Zenit last week, Lukaku has only underlined why he is regarded to be one of Europe’s top finishers.

Despite failing to get himself on the scoresheet against Spurs over the weekend, the former Inter Milan striker has already racked up seven goals for club and country so far this season.

An important week ahead?

Bagging themselves an injury-time third against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon and climbing to the top of the Premier League table, Chelsea will know they have the chance to lay down another marker this week.

Looking to extend on their EFL Cup adventure in midweek as they face off against Aston Villa, the Blues will be next seen on Premier League duties when they face off against the defending champions.

In what is set to be a mouth-watering affair at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Tuchel’s side will be hoping to replicate May’s performance from out in Portugal when they host Manchester City.

Landing their European crown thanks to that famous 1-0 win on foreign soil, Chelsea will know that three points this weekend could be enough to underline their spot in pole position.

Now priced at 19/10 with 888sport to lift their first Premier League title since 2017, the question remains, who can stop the Blues this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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