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Chelsea set the standard while the rest play catch up: What makes The Blues so different?

November 2, 2010

The Special One may not be around anymore, but the legacy he’s left is showing no signs of shifting. The Chelsea bandwagon is well and truly rocking and the future looks bright for the boys in blue. So what is it that makes them so special?

Chelsea’s dominance in the top flight of English football took a while to surface. Indeed, it took an outlandish investment plan from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to kickstart the revolution in west London, but Chelski fans weren’t complaining. After 4 years of ridiculous spending and changes to the Chelsea roster, Mr. Abramovich has seemingly changed his ways and the Chelsea ship that was once a chasm of media interest and speculation is now quietly going about its business in the Premier League.

It was once Manchester United and Arsenal who were sailing through the Premier League with penash and style. Very little bad light was cast upon the Theatre of Dreams and Highbury and there were no signs of unrest. However, the tide seems to have changed and as far as the next 2 or 3 years is concerned, I can’t see anybody but Chelsea getting anywhere near the Premier League title.

That may sound a little hasty and naive considering Chelsea have an ageing squad, but we said that 2 years ago, didn’t we? The old adage ‘getting better with age’ certainly seems present on this occasion and the likes of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are in the peak of their form as we speak. Manchester United’s predicted ‘wonderkids’ still have a few years before they start to play a more significant part in the club’s makeup, and Arsenal are still the Arsenal that flatter to deceive. Wonderful passers of the ball, brisk movement and fluid attacking football counts for nothing if you don’t have the grit and steel to grind out wins in the Premier League. As for Manchester City, they’re a disaster waiting to implode and I’d bet all my possessions on Roberto Mancini walking out the door before the end of the season. No title for them this season.

Chelsea’s quality is seasoned and ripe. They are not a squad filled with raw talent or the fruitful youth that United are relying on to carry on the ‘golden generation’ of the last 15 years or so. They are a side containing experienced, genuine world-class players. Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, Ashley Cole, Nicolas Anelka and the rest. Despite the fact that they are reaching or are already in their 30’s, they still have plenty to offer. As I’ve mentioned, Drogba is playing as good as anyone in the world right now and he continues to get stronger and more powerful. He’s almost unstoppable at times. Malouda has come to life under Carlo Ancelotti, who has to take a lot of credit for the renaissance of Chelsea despite Jose Mourinho’s obvious impact, in the last couple of years. And Anelka has certainly shown his best colours under Ancelotti after a rollercoaster career.

Compared to Manchester United, there are some obvious differences. United have had a lot of problems with injury over the last couple of seasons. Rio Ferdinand is a key player for them, and he is someone who has spent a lot of time on the sidelines with various problems, most notably and recently a knee injury that kept him out of the World Cup. The fact is, United aren’t the same without Rio. Nemanja Vidic has also been missing on occasions, usually at the same time as Rio has been out. Indeed, at times last season United’s back four has contained both Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, two players who are of course more accustomed to patrolling the midfield rather than guarding the defensive line.

This season hasn’t been much more enjoyable for Sir Alex Ferguson and the fans at Old Trafford, particularly after Wayne Rooney decided to bonk a prostitute in front of all his teammates. Rooney’s lack of form and an apparent ankle injury has disrupted United’s progress, and that, coupled with Antonio Valencia’s sickening injury against Rangers in the Champions League, leaves Sir Alex void of two prominent attacking options.

Chelsea haven’t had such problems, apart from the injuries to Frank Lampard and John Terry, two players I’m convinced Chelsea wouldn’t have a problem dealing without in the long-term. Indeed, that notion has been proved somewhat over the last few weeks as Chelsea have been missing both Terry and Lampard but have still managed to take a 5-point lead at the top of the table. It may also be the case that Chelsea are used to dealing with adversity. As I said earlier, the arrival of Roman and his millions certainly attracted more than their fair share of media interest in the second half of the decade. The Chelsea players are content with playing under pressure and in the midst of adversity. That’s not to say United aren’t, but everyone deals with it in different ways.

Carlo Ancelotti was seen by many as the perfect choice when he took over from Felipe Scolari last season, and he has proved that his reputation is well deserved. Calm, cool and collected. A bit of a cliché but certainly very apt when describing the silky Italian. He’s not a manager that makes a big noise or stirs people up the wrong way. His aura demands respect and his credentials demand victory. You wouldn’t think it to be possible, but Ancelotti has slowly but surely taken Chelsea out of the spotlight and turned them into a unit that go about their business in a very professional manner. That’s what makes them different from the other big sides. No big fuss is made. Very little media attention is now cast upon The Blues, which is probably a result of winning football matches. Afterall, most press is bad press and whilst Chelsea keep winning, that will stay away from Stamford Bridge.

So can they be caught? Maybe, but I can’t see it. Ancelotti has stated that he won’t be making any new signings in the January transfer window and I for one agree. Why should he? He doesn’t need to. There’s the change in Chelsea FC’s outlook on the Premier League. 4 or 5 years ago and Chelsea would have brought in 3 or 4 big names in January. Not because they needed to, but because they could and they wanted to. Now, players only come in if they are actually required to do a job in the side. Scott Parker was bought because they could. He was never in their first team plans. He was just used for Abramovich to make a statement and show off the big bucks. Chelsea don’t do that anymore. This is a new Chelsea. A better Chelsea.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 2, 2010 7:49 pm

    Great post… Chelsea are indeed the team to beat almost every season, as these players have developed a special bonding and understand each others game really well, something which used to happen with Man Utd, but with the coming and going of players, this understanding was bound to disappear. Arsenal is another team to watch out for, as the young Gunners play brilliant football as well, and if they stick together they will eventually start winning trophies

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