Chelsea will be extremely eager to get back to winning ways when they travel to Hull on Sunday. After two consecutive draws, the league leaders need three points as they look to close out the Premier League title. They have 10 league games left ahead of this meeting with Hull, and a six point lead over challengers (and current champions) Manchester City to protect.
This trip is one of just three fixtures outside London in their run in, which should make things a lot easier for them with so little traveling required. Jose Mourinho guaranteed that his side would win the Premier League title last week, and with their current situation looking rather rosy they are certainly heavy favourites. The big worry is that the side might just become complacent, with most pundits suggesting that the title race is already over.
We’ve saw a glimpse of complacency creeping in during the matches against Bradford and Paris Saint-Germain that resulted in FA Cup and Champions League exits respectively, and it goes hand in hand with the lack of ruthlessness the players and manager have pointed out on several occasions. It cost their title hopes last year with points thrown away against smaller sides, and it can’t be allowed to happen again. A win at Hull would send them into the last nine games in a fantastic position.
A big performance would also clear the PSG result and poor display from people’s minds, as things haven’t really picked up since then. A win at Hull would help everyone move past that, as it sets up the run in with the title firmly marked as the top (well, only) priority, and within touching distance. Given City’s tougher fixture list and the Blues’ game in hand, the gap is likely to get bigger if anything.
A few win in this game and further victories in the early April fixtures, and City could end up even further behind, ending the title race with a month or so to spare. Luckily for Chelsea, they have an excellent recent record against the struggling Tigers. In every meeting between the teams since Hull got back into the top flight, Chelsea have run out 2-0 winners. That seems to be Mourinho’s favourite scoreline, and he’d happily take the same result again over his friend Steve Bruce.
Hull are in need of the points themselves, as they sit just three points above the bottom three. Aston Villa below them are hitting form, Burnley seem to be as well, while Sunderland have recently changed manager which could produce a “bounce”. Hull are far from out of danger right now, and they need to start getting points on the board. After Chelsea’s recent performances, the Tigers will believe a result is possible here. They’ve taken points off City, Arsenal and Liverpool this season, so they enjoy these big games.
That’s the task that the Blues face here, having to get back to winning ways and their early season performances. A few key players aren’t playing as well as they were early in the season, and if they get back to their best then Mourinho’s title promise should be fulfilled.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0