Are Chelsea Falling Behind?

Defending the Premier League title has always been a tough ask, but with their team sitting 9 points off the top, do Chelsea fans have good reason to be concerned? A deficient performance at Selhurst Park on the weekend had left Chelsea in 5th place after 8 games, and many will feel they are going to fall short of the two Manchester heavyweights this season.

When arguing their current league position, Blues fans will point to the fact that they have already played 4 of last year’s top 7. However damaging defeats to Burnley and Crystal Palace have put real pressure on Antonio Conte’s side, especially given Palace’s dreadful form. With City and United playing formidably this season, it seems Chelsea are going to be well off the pace in terms of a title challenge.

This summer we saw Conte publicly display his frustration towards Chelsea’s transfer activity, and last Saturday’s defeat might just have validated his holiday struggles. The absence of the in-form Alvaro Morata was prevalent with Batshuayi offering very little up front, and the midfield lacked energy without N’Golo Kante. Injuries to these key men are of course unfortunate, but the calibre of players on the benches of the Manchester clubs was significantly higher than those on the Chelsea bench last weekend. To win the league, you need squad depth to accommodate for injuries, and it seems the Blues didn’t fully address this issue over the summer.

Chelsea won the league comfortably last year, but did the lack of European football help them more than we first thought? Antonio Conte had a full week to prepare for each Premier League game last season, and all the players were given a well-needed rest.

However, participating in the Champions league means that along with the domestic cups, Chelsea are playing every three or four days.  The last English club to win both the league and European silverware was Manchester United back in 2008, which highlights the difficulty of succeeding in both competitions.

There are many positives from Chelsea’s endeavours in the early stages of this season. Impressive wins away at Spurs and Stoke have given football fans a glimpse of the ruthlessness we saw from Chelsea last season, and the Blues fans will be hoping for more of these performances.

Despite another disappointing display on Wednesday against Roma, their position in the Champions league is looking healthy. They sit top of their group, 5 points ahead of 3rd place Atletico Madrid with 3 games to play. Given back to back Premier League titles are hard to come by, success in Europe’s elite competition will satisfy the fans and more importantly for Conte, the board.

In my personal opinion, I think Chelsea will turn it around. The manner of the defeats in the past few Premier League games has been alarming, but critics were quick to write Chelsea off last season after crushing defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, and the west Londoners ended up comfortably finishing top of the league. If there were a manager who you would back to get the best out of his star-studded line up, it would be Antonio Conte. I feel they will overcome their blip once N’Golo Kante returns, solidifies the midfield and helps a currently fragile Chelsea defence. Winning the Premier League will probably be a step too far, but I expect them to easily finish within the top 4 and thrive in Europe.

Do you think Chelsea are falling behind? Let us know in the comments below!

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