Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A 3 Horse Race?

Chelsea's hard-fought victory against a bus-parking Manchester City leaves them six points adrift, and with a visit to Old Trafford to come, a winning run between now and the end of the season would most likely secure them what seemed an unlikely victory in the title race.

Looking at the top three, Chelsea are probably the most likely to put an impressive run together, on paper. On balance, their starting line up at the moment seems stronger than either Arsenal's or United's. And they can be a truly formidable team when momentum is on their side.

I don't think they will win the league for a few reasons. Their squad is not as deep as they would like. Too many of their best players- Drogba, Lampard, Essien, Malouda, Torres- are having below-par seasons. And I think their players will prioritise the competition in which their manager is a specialist. That Chelsea side has endured some painful moments in the Champions League. That is the trophy they want and I think their league performances will come to reflect that.

They have had impressive home results of late against the two Manchester teams. But United are having a wretched season away from home, and City showed no ambition. I don't think Chelsea were anything close to their best in winning those games and as the tension rises in the last few games, they will need to play consistently well to make up the gap on United. If some of the aforementioned players regained their best form, it would be possible, but I still see United as strong favourites.

For the rest of this season, and all of the next, it will be fascinating to see whether Torres can find the class that seems to have deserted him. Chelsea may see the summer as an opportune moment to discard Drogba, an elemental player who is now showing genuine signs of decline. If Torres were Drogba's age, we would certainly be saying that he's past it. Maybe injuries have caught up with the Spaniard- consider how young Michael Owen was when he peaked- about ten years ago!

Chelsea may find themselves regretting what was an expensive transfer. The time was probably right to look to replace Drogba, but did they get the right man?

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