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Could Chelsea keep their faint title hopes alive?

07 December 2018, by: Leonard Solms


Chelsea’s title hopes were dealt a serious dent when they went down 2-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday. However, a blip at some stage this season was expected after their poor form last term. The Blues can still rise from the jaws of defeat, but realistically, they can only count themselves as title contenders if they see off Manchester City on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

This task would require the very best of a side which has looked shaky against fellow big clubs in this season’s Premier League. A 3-2 victory over an Arsenal side which at the time was still adjusting to life under Unai Emery was followed by draws against Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton before an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Since José Mourinho’s appointment as manager in 2004, Chelsea have prided themselves on their winning mentality. Managers and head coaches have come and gone, but the trophies haven’t dried up. Since the Portuguese boss first took charge, Chelsea have won five league titles — the joint most in the Premier League, along with Manchester United.

The Blues heroically picked up the UEFA Champions League in 2012 after having been written off countless times. Almost without fail, they have silenced critics immediately after every poor season.

This season appeared to be no different, as Maurizio Sarri’s men responded to the sacking of Antonio Conte by going unbeaten in the former Napoli boss’ first 12 league games in charge.

However, they now find themselves desperately clinging onto fourth place. Having finished fifth last season, this Chelsea team risks becoming the first in the Abramovich era to fail to qualify for the Champions League in successive seasons.

As unlikely as it looks at present, we shouldn’t altogether rule out a title challenge from the Blues. Manchester City showed in 2011/12 when they overturned an eight-point deficit to Manchester United at the eleventh hour that in such a competitive league, nothing is certain until the trophy is officially won.

Even more recently, Liverpool found themselves falling off the pace of Manchester City and Chelsea in 2013/14 after mid-season defeats to the pair. However, they clawed their way back into contention before slipping up late in the title race.

With more than half the season remaining, Chelsea trail leaders City by 10 points. On paper, they have ample time on their hands to make up for lost points.

However, City under Pep Guardiola don’t drop many — nor do Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Since the departure of John Terry following their last title win, Chelsea have been accused of lacking leadership. If they silence their critics on Saturday as the old guard always seemed to, they may just be in with a fighting chance of Premier League glory.

However, if they slip up, the West Londoners will be in for a long, hard season.

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Leonard Solms is a sports journalist who features regularly on various local and international platforms including ESPN, New Frame, FARPost, Tagged Online and Careers Magazine, as well as this one. He enjoys the occasional bet and the most important tip he can give you is to bet within your means.

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