Chelsea are the bookmakers’ favourites to defend their Premier League title even before the summer transfer window has opened.
José Mourinho’s side have been very quiet in the market so far but we expect the Blues to have made a couple of signings before the start of August.
Title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City are also yet to confirm any new signings but they have both been linked to a number of top stars, whilst Manchester United have already wrapped up a £25 million deal for Memphis Depay.
Still, as it stands, Chelsea are around 6/4 to win the Premier League, and based on last season’s performances – those around them need to spend a lot of money if they’re to take the trophy away from Stamford Bridge next May.
Here are five reasons why the Blues are the favourites:
1. José Mourinho
It starts at the top and in José Mourinho Chelsea arguably have the best manager in the Premier League and one of the best in the world. The Special One is a tactical genius in this country – knowing when they ‘park the bus’ and when to play a more offensive-minded side.
His tactics were almost perfect last season – starting the season by putting fear in their challengers by blitzing teams, and then shut up shop at the back in the second half of the season as teams thought they were capable of finding Chelsea’s weak points, as Tottenham did somewhat in a 5-3 victory to start 2015.
His opposite numbers, Manuel Pellegrini got in wrong in big matches tactically last season, Arsène Wenger is still too naïve in the big games and we weren’t overly convinced by Manchester United’s performances under Louis van Gaal, despite stringing enough results together to finish fourth.
One thing José Mourinho has done in his two seasons back at the Bridge is add a lot of depth to their side. Assuming the sale of Petr Čech goes through as expected, they could do with another goalkeeper, as well as a new striker, but otherwise they have cover in every position.
The boss didn’t rotate his squad too greatly last season admittedly but he has players capable of slotting in if need be. Filipe Luís, Kurt Zouma, Ramires, Juan Cuadrado and Loïc Rémy are all back ups.
In comparison, Manchester City look vulnerable at the back every time Vincent Kompany is absent, there are question marks over Fernando in midfield, they relied a lot on Frank Lampard last season – he has now gone, and they certainly have no replacement for Sergio Agüero. Arsenal have little coverage at the back and no replacement for Olivier Giroud. Louis van Gaal is starting to do a good job at United in cover, but still needs at least one more centre-back, a holding midfielder and striker this summer.
Mourinho used only two teenagers last season – of those, Kurt Zouma played once before his 20th birthday and Ruben Loftus-Cheek saw little game time before the Premier League title was secured. The Portuguese manager uses a lot of experience and players with league winners’ medals already in their cabinet.
There’s plenty of experience at the back with John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanović – and young goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois now has a Premier League season under his belt and having previously played in a UEFA Champions League final with Atlético Madrid. In midfield, Cesc Fàbregas was signed with previous Premier League experience and trophy winning experience with both Spain and Barcelona. Eden Hazard and Oscar have a few seasons under their belt. Inexperienced players like Juan Cuadrado were slowly introduced into the first-team last season.
Some say Manchester City’s side is getting too old, Arsène Wenger likes to breed youngsters into this team but doesn’t have too many title-winners amongst them and Louis van Gaal threw in a large number of youngsters and debutants into his team last season.
4. Match Winners
Chelsea have match winners all across the park. They have a prolific hitman in Diego Costa up front, whilst Loïc Rémy proved he could come off the bench and score a couple of winners last season. Eden Hazard was the best player in the Premier League last season – often unplayable. Oscar showed early in the season that he could be a difference maker, and we all know Cesc Fàbregas can play a killer pass. They also had plenty of goals from their defence.
Manchester City seemed too reliable on Sergio Agüero for goals, although David Silva did have his most-prolific season. They have previously relied on Yaya Touré but you can’t say they have too many more difference makers around them. Arsenal grew less reliant on Olivier Giroud during the second half the season – they have Alexis Sánchez who is certainly a match winner but could do with a few more goals from the likes of Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Özil. anchester United didn’t have a great number of goals from Ashley Young or Ángel Di María, whilst Wayne Rooney barely got amongst the goals from midfield.
Chelsea have the best defence in the Premier League and that’s always the case when José Mourinho is in charge. This gives them a base to build on and allows them to scrape 1-0 victories when they’re not firing on all cylinders up front.
We don’t see this from every team but you knew last season when Chelsea were getting by on their defensive performances that the Premier League trophy was heading to West London.
Manchester City weren’t able to do this – their defence was sloppy on a number of occasions last season – just watched both matches versus Burnley for example. Arsenal have had defensive problems for years whilst Manchester United were too reliant on David de Gea last season – the Spanish goalkeeper may not even be at Old Trafford come August.