Monday, September 19, 2011

Torres and CFC Get the Blues

On Sunday afternoon, Chelsea met Manchester United at Old Trafford for a fixture that has had a profound impact on the title in recent years. In the last two years, the team that won this match has been hoisting the trophy at the end of May.

For some reason, Chelsea has been already written off by most pundits, with the two Manchester clubs instead favored to win it all. They are certainly the obvious choices, 12 points out of 12 for each of them entering Sunday. But if we stretch our memories just a tiny bit, we can trace back to last season, where Chelsea won their first five, scoring 21 goals, before coming to a screeching halt and eventually ceding the title to United.

After winning 3-1 yesterday, United now stand in an identical position; 15 out of 15, 21 goals scored. Although I won't be so bold as to write United off, nor will I suggest they will experience a dip in form as stark as Chelsea's last season, here's why I believe the Blues will still win the title:

  • It was just one game. Sure, this game can be viewed as a six-pointer for the top spots, but even so, it's far too early for this game to be viewed as a title decider. The reality is that United must slow down at some point, and they will drop points in what is always a gruelingly long season.
  • United were not the better team. I'm not saying they didn't deserve all three points, but in a surprisingly eventful game, United had less meaningful possession, created less chances, and were frequently exposed defensively. The incisive midfield play was lacking, too, but they were saved by clinical finishing--in relative terms-- and a brilliant individual performance from Nani.
  • Chelsea are improving every game. The Premier League is a marathon, not a sprint. Chelsea started with a 0-0 draw at Stoke, before increasingly impressive and fluent wins in every match since. The signings of Mata and Meireles, alongside the emergence of Danny Sturridge, has brought pace and urgency to the attack. Sure, their defense was weak at Old Trafford, but I think they were just gutted after going down 2-0.
  • and finally... Torres. Yes, he had the worst miss I have ever seen on Sunday. Put that aside. How about the move he put on De Gea to go 'round the keeper? How about the gem he scored right as the second half started, coolly chipping into the far corner. He looked fast, confident, and sharp, that one miss aside. And if Chelsea can get him flowing again, they will quickly become the team to beat in the Prem.

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