When Arsenal went the whole of the 2003/04 without losing a single match, it was widely accepted that the feat was likely never to be repeated in the near future. Chelsea came close the following season, losing just once. But since then, no team has looked capable enough to replicate the side known as the ‘Invincibles’.
With the competition in the Premier League only getting fiercer every season, to see one team complete dominate the other 19 is extremely unlikely. Even when a side comfortably wins the title, there is at least game when they slip to a defeat. Manchester United, in the 2010/11 campaign, went unbeaten for 24 games until 5th February, but then lost against Wolverhampton Wanderers, who were bottom of the pile at the time.
This season, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea have looked near-perfect. 9 wins and 2 draws from their 11 games so far, the Blues sit pretty at the top and look good to land their first league title in 5 years. But, the million-dollar question is, “Can they go unbeaten for the whole season?”. They certainly look strong enough to do it.
Here are three reasons why Chelsea can be the new Invincibles:
1) Every Area Covered:
Chelsea did the best business among all the clubs in the Premier League in the summer. They bought early, and brought in players to remove every weakness from last season. A world-class centre-forward and central midfielder were needed, and in came Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. The duo have been outstanding for the Blues so far. Apart from that, Chelsea have arguably the best defence in the league. Even though clean sheets have been hard to come by, John Terry and Co. have been solid as a rock for most parts. In Eden Hazard they have one of the hottest prospects in world football, while Oscar this season has matured into a fantastic team player. Add to that Nemanja Matic, one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and you have a complete side.
2) The Winning Mentality:
One characteristic which the Chelsea side from last season didn’t possess was the ability to grind out results against stubbornly defensive sides. When their backs were against the wall, the Blues often succumbed. This season, all that has changed. If last season was a year of transition, this season looks to be one of domination.
Mourinho has firmly instilled the winning mentality at Stamford Bridge, and his side have taken every game by the scruff of the neck so far. Only on three occasions have they gone behind, and when they have done, a near-instant response has come every time. Chelsea have also proved, as against Queens Park Rangers two weeks ago, that even when they are not at their best, they can come away with all three points. In the Premier League, an off-day is never too far away for any side, but the Blues have enough quality in every area of the pitch for someone to produce a moment of magic and win them the game.
3) Who Can Beat Them?:
Chelsea are already through with a majority of tough away fixtures, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and Crystal Palace. They have come through these games unscathed and will in fact, consider themselves extremely unlucky not to have a 100 per cent record so far. The two draws, which came against the two Manchester clubs, were results of late goals conceded. Last season, Chelsea were impeccable against their fellow title-contenders and struggled against sides from the bottom half. This season, that has changed as well. Two of the fixtures that they lost last year, away at Goodison Park and Selhurst Park, they have breezed through comfortably this time around. It is therefore, difficult to see a team that can get the better of Chelsea this season. Mourinho’s home record is near-perfect and even though Sunderland managed to win in West London last year, it is unlikely that the fortress will be breached in this campaign.
The following graphic shows how a Jose Mourinho side is rarely likely to relinquish a lead:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said earlier this week that he believed Chelsea could break the 100-point mark for the first time in Premier League history. A lot of expectation surrounds Stamford Bridge at the moment, with many believing that the title race may be done and dusted even at this early stage.
But Mourinho and Chelsea know that the season is long and the Premier League is the most competitive league in the world. There are several teams more than capable of causing an upset and therefore they cannot let complacency set in. Even though this squad already looks like one of the best in the history of the league, it only takes one lapse in concentration or one unlucky day with the referees to lose a game.
Replicating the Arsenal side from 2004 still seems an improbable task. But with the way that they are playing at the moment, it will be safe to say that if anyone can, Chelsea can.