Have RDM's Blues got what it takes to go all the way this year?
October 20th. 2:45pm. Chelsea have just beaten Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at White Hart Lane to go 7 points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League. Juan Mata has turned in a performance nothing short of genius, Gary Cahill has scored a goal more befitting of a Messi or Ronaldo and Daniel Sturridge has iced the proverbial cake with a tap-in on 90 minutes. 7 wins out of 8 and unbeaten, Chelsea are flying.
Pre-season, very few pundits were tipping Chelsea to mount a successful title challenge with many predicting that Di Matteo's youthful side would be content with regaining a place in the top four. Two months into the season, many of these pundits are having to reassess. Rarely has a team started with such haste and ruthlessness in recent years. Already The Blues have gone away to both North London clubs and beaten them. Their only "slip-up" has come at the hands of West London rivals QPR where many fans saw it as a point gained rather than two lost.
It is not difficult to see why Chelsea have been so excellent so far this season. With a plethora of attacking talent including the irresistible Mata, the magical Hazard and the enigmatic Torres, Chelsea are free-scoring both home and away. A solid defence built on a blend of experience and talent, backed up by the immovable force of Petr Cech, have made Chelsea extremely difficult to beat, especially away from Stamford Bridge.
After last season's managerial upheaval, followed by the club's greatest night in Munich, it was never going to be easy to predict the fate of Chelsea this season. Although Roberto Di Matteo was handed the manager's job on a permanent basis in June, fans were uneasy at the prospect of another uncertain, transitional season. This uncertainty was loosened slightly upon the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses over the summer. Di Matteo, backed heavily by Roman Abramovich, was bringing together an exciting squad.
Eden Hazard has been in excellent form since his summer move from Lyon
Despite this lavish spending, Chelsea were not pulling clear of their title rivals in the spending stakes. Manchester United shelled out £40 million to bring Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell and the Premier League's most sought after talent, Robin Van Persie to Old Trafford. Manchester City strengthened their squad with no fewer than six signings, whilst Arsenal and Tottenham also bought in fresh blood to reinvigorate their respective pushes for the championship.
After this weekend's fixtures, the gap to both Manchester clubs is four points and ten back to Arsenal. After eight games, Chelsea fans will be delighted with how the season has begun, both off and on the pitch. This weekend's match between the Blues and the red half of Manchester promises to be a mouth-watering affair. If Chelsea can get the three points this weekend, it will put them in seven points clear of United and knock the stuffing out of the Red's title ambitions. If Chelsea lose however, questions will inevitably be asked of their fight and bottle in the big games.
Chelsea won the 2011/12 Champions League on a tense penalty shoot-out
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea have the quality to go all the way this year, but after being victorious in last season's Champions League, there's no question that RDM's Blues have the mentality of a winning team. It remains to be seen whether that winning mentality can carry them to Premier League glory.