This could be an incredibly short article, answerable with a single word: yes. It wouldn’t take much to back such a claim up; a quick glance at the bookmakers’ odds show the Blues as the current second favourites, just behind Manchester City but ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool; equally a look the Premier League table shows Jose Mourinho’s men second in the table.
So perhaps it is a stupid question but after the poor performance against Newcastle and the manager’s disparaging remarks about his own performance and those of the 11 he sent out at St James’ it has to be asked. It is rare to see the Special One so downbeat and so obviously upset and angry and whether his media performance can be filed under “mind games” or was genuine, it was a show unlikely to garner enthusiasm amongst Chelsea supporters.
However, the fact remains that in many areas Chelsea remain the strongest team in the division. Their midfield resources, managerial ability and Premier League know-how, and capacity, if needed, to spend in January are as good as any other side.
Mourinho may not yet know how to get the best out of Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Ramires, Andre Schurrle, Willian, Frank Lampard and co but there is no doubt that Chelsea’s creative talent in the middle of the pitch is as good as any club’s, even Arsenal’s.
As for Mourinho himself, few would doubt that his appointment at Chelsea did anything other than seriously improve the chances of success for the Stamford Bridge club. With Man United appointing David Moyes and Man City going for Manuel Pellegrini, Arsene Wenger was the only “big four” manager not new to his post. However, the Special One has a major advantage over the two Manchester supremos because he knows the club, many of the players, the league itself and, most of all, what it takes to win the Premier League.
He assessed the squad quickly and immediately made Wayne Rooney his number one target. Rooney’s form at United has showed that Mourinho was right to covet him and, as with all of the biggest six sides in the land, if the boss wants to sign a player in January then money won’t be a problem. Financial Fair Play is somewhat limiting to all clubs but if Mourinho decides a top striker will be the difference between the title and finishing second then UEFA’s regulations will have to wait.
The bigger problem will be getting the right player and whilst Fernando Torres is playing well he is never going to return to his wonderful best. The Blues would clearly be stronger with Romelu Lukaku but without him they will have to hope that Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o can raise their games sufficiently to keep Chelsea in the hunt.
However, perhaps the biggest factor to consider in Chelsea’s title aspirations is their fixtures. Second place after 10 games that have included visits to Man United, Everton, Newcastle and Spurs is not such a bad position. In contrast Arsenal have played just two of the top 10 sides, both at home, and the five points between the teams could easily be recovered once the fixture imbalance is levelled off.
Chelsea have good leadership, both on and off the pitch, a top goalkeeper and the best group of centre backs in the Premier League. Throw in the abundance of midfield talent and the mentality of the manager and the answer is not “yes, Chelsea can win the league” but “yes, Chelsea WILL win the league”.