james debate
james debate

Monday 29 September 2008

As a Chelsea fan, I'd be lying if I said I was particularly worried by any of our title rivals so far this season.

Admittedly it is still very early days, but nonetheless. Arsenal losing at home to newly promoted hull, Liverpool failing to beat newly promoted Stoke at Anfield, and let's face it, have Manchester United played a single really decent game so far this season?

Arsenal have zero depth and their first team isn't even much to be wowed by. They've had a few exciting performances and positive write ups but come on, the toughest teams they've played so far are relegation-bound Newcastle, the biggest joke in English football, and a Blackburn side that looks a shadow of it's former self without Mark Hughes. Besides those two they've lost to Fulham and Hull and barely scraped a win against West Brom, hardly inspiriational so far.

United have not fired on all cylinders and the Berbatov signing looks a bit of a waste of money so far, but I think anyone who knows football will remember that they usually take a while to get going in the league, so given a few months I expect them to be challenging again.

Liverpool have been the strongest of the rivals so far, but even they haven't exactly looked dominant in their games against weaker opposition, and I very much doubt that many people (aside from the plethora of ex-Liverpool players working for Sky Sports) fancy them with much chance this season.

Meanwhile Chelsea... have been... well they've been good, and it's not something I've had the pleasure of seeing for quite some time. Ever since Mourinho's second Premier League triumph we've not looked the same all conquering dominant team that we were in those first two seasons. Now all of a sudden we're looking like a completely different team. Even the formerly crap players on the team are starting to pull their weight. Malouda in particular has been sensational in recent games. Kalou is suddenly a hot property being chased by Barcelona. Anelka is our current top scorer. Ashley cole has been the best form left back in the league for two years now and he is finally getting the credit for it. Mikel has shown himself to be one of the top defensive midfielders in Europe and a fantastic prospect for the future. Suddenly all these players are playing to the best of their abilities, in a way they never have before.

Before his arrival at Chelsea there was much talk in the media of 'the Scolari effect' where at every team he manages, the defining feature of his tenure is how he manages to motivate and get players to play at their top form, even people who often are known for underperforming. It is pretty apparent that we are seeing this effect now at Chelsea. On top of which, we really don't have any right to be playing so well with all the injuries we have. Deco, Carvalho, Drogba, Joe Cole, Kalou and Essien, all key players, the fact that we can cope without all these players just goes to show how insanely good the depth in the squad is.

And while I won't be so bold as to suggest that it'll last forever and see us win an unprecedented quadruple, I will ceetainly enjoy it while it lasts. Right now there is no team better, and all I can say is, it's good to be back at the top.

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