Since Chelsea won just their second English top-flight title in their history back in 2004-05, when a fresh-faced José Mourinho kickstarted what would become a very successful tenure under the watchful eyes of Roman Abramovic, the Blues’ current run of five years without getting their hands on the nation’s premier piece of silverware has been their longest in this trophy-laden era.
Current Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte was the mastermind behind what would be Chelsea’s fifth Premier League success in 13 years, introducing a back five with wingbacks to the English game and doing so with immediate effect as the west Londoners won the 2016-17 campaign with relative ease — finishing seven points ahead of their cross-city rivals Spurs.
Fast forward five years, and while Chelsea has added a second Champions League title to their cabinet, they haven’t even come close to getting their hands on the sought-after Premier League trophy again — with two third-place finishes the best they could muster up in that time, both of which were well off the pace of eventual winners Manchester City.
But, for one reason or another, that is exactly where Chelsea finds themselves at this stage — arguably as the best of the rest behind both City and their title rivals, Liverpool. In fact, with London foes Spurs and Arsenal both improving their squads this summer, Thomas Tuchel’s men could have a fight on their hands if they even want to be that.
In the early stages of last season, there was optimism at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea was in contention at the top with Liverpool and City after a fantastic start. But injuries to the likes of Ben Chilwell and Reece James mixed with poor form over the busy Christmas period, and a lack of goals from £100m Romelu Lukaku took its toll, and the Blues quickly fell off the pace set by the Reds and Pep Guardiola’s side.
At the start of this season, that feel-good factor doesn’t seem to be there amongst the Chelsea squad and the fanbase alike — meaning the answer to ‘could this be their year?’ is most likely no.
The Blues were still riding the crest of a wave after winning the 2020 Champions League final against Man City in Porto at the start of last year. But motivation levels certainly won’t be as high 12 months on after missing out on the domestic cup double last season, winning just the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, hardly the same prestige as what was available.
And the fact Tuchel and new owner Todd Boehly haven’t been able to recruit the majority of their top targets leaves Chelsea’s campaign in doubt.
Indeed, Raheem Sterling, Marc Cucurella, and Kalidou Koulibaly are solid signings, but Tuchel still needs to add several new faces to his squad before he is ready to really compete for the title — and that is fairly reflected in Premier League outright betting, where Chelsea find themselves fourth favorites behind City, Liverpool, and Spurs.
Although they came away from Goodison Park with all three points thanks to a Jorginho penalty late in the first half, Chelsea looked lackluster against Frank Lampard’s Everton on the opening week of the season and their first home tie against Tottenham on Sunday will be a real test of where this side are at the minute.
Spurs haven’t won away at Chelsea since 2018, when they stunned the Blues 3-1 for their first victory in west London in 28 years. So, a defeat to Conte’s men could be further proof that the pendulum has swung toward the north of the capital this season, especially with Arsenal’s stark improvement as well.
Not only are Chelsea not going to compete for the Premier League title, but they could find themselves out of the running for Champions League football — something they haven’t missed out on in four seasons now. There is still time to change their fortunes as the transfer window is still open, but at the time of writing, Chelsea look to be fighting an uphill battle for supremacy.
thearcticblues from United States of America, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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