5 Chelsea Storylines to Follow as Season’s End Nears
5 Chelsea Storylines to Follow
Chelsea are flying high near the top of the table at the beginning of February as the West London club looks to secure its first Premier League title since the 2009-10 season. The returning Jose Mourinho delivered two league titles during his first reign as Chelsea manager and will be hoping to add another to his long list of career accomplishments.
The Blues currently sit in third place on 53 points, level with Manchester City and two points behind London rivals Arsenal, who remain at the summit. Chelsea delivered arguably their best performance of the season earlier this week, becoming the first team to take points from City at the Etihad Stadium. Following 11 straight wins and 42 goals at home, Chelsea thoroughly dominated their hosts for large parts of the contest, and Branislav Ivanovic's left-footed piledriver at the 32nd minute was one of several chances for Mourinho's men.
The 1-0 win over title favorites City sent a clear message to teams around them in the table. Chelsea may not have the flair of David Silva or Mesut Ozil, and they won't put six goals past opposing teams every week, but they do possess the ability to stay tight at the back and grind out narrow victories to earn all that matters: three points.
With the Premier League season heating up as we enter the home stretch, here are five Chelsea storylines to follow as they fight for glory in what is shaping up to be the closest finish in recent memory.
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5. Will They Finish With Best Defensive Record?
Chelsea are known for their strong defense and have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Petr Cech. They have conceded just 20 goals in 24 games, one fewer than Arsenal, and have kept 10 clean sheets thus far.
4. Will Mourinho Moan at Everything?
Of course we know the “Special One” is not afraid to speak his mind, but the Silver Fox as become a tiresome grump since his return to the league. First he labelled Arsenal players “crybabies” following a feisty 0-0 at the Emirates Stadium in which John Obi Mikel should have been dismissed for high tackle on Mikel Arteta. Then Mourinho whined about the fixture list and followed that up by suggesting that West Ham play “19th-century football” after the Hammers earned a well-deserved point at Stamford Bridge last week.
3. Distracted by Champions League?
Mourinho burst onto the footballing scene with Porto in 2003, leading the Portuguese champions to the ultimate prize of Champions League victory in his second year in charge. He was unable to repeat the feat during his first spell at Chelsea before adding a second European trophy with Inter Milan during the 2009-10 season. Of course, Chelsea did win the Champions League two years ago, but not with Mourinho at the helm. He will be desperate to claim the trophy this year; could the added fixtures put pressure on Chelsea's Premier League challenge?
2. Should They Have Signed a Striker?
Chelsea's strike force has been poor all year. In fact, Fernando Torres has been poor for a lot longer than that. Their leading scorer in the Premier League is midfielder Eden Hazard with nine goals, while striker Samuel Eto'o has six. Torres is currently sidelined with a knee injury, and you wonder if the lack of a world-class striker may play a factor over the next few months. Chelsea obviously have the finances to bring in a proven goal scorer, and the decision not to may come back to haunt them.
1. Will They Regret Selling Mata?
Despite being one of the best players in the world, Juan Mata could not force himself into Chelsea's starting lineup. The creativity, set-piece ability and scoring prowess of Mata is a valuable asset on any team, and letting a player of his caliber go midway though a title-chasing season was a bold decision at best. If the injury bug hits the Chelsea squad, it will quickly turn into a horrible one.