Eden Hazard

Despite a 2-0 loss to Manchester City in the FA Cup and the fact that Jose Mourinho always seems more intrigued by managerial banter, Chelsea have started to scare me more than any other team in the Premier League. Sure, City seem able to score whenever they want, Arsenal will want to shrug the “no-title” tag off as soon as possible, and Liverpool are waiting until much later in the season for their usual implosion…but Chelsea are sitting on top of the table with a team that still could improve in several aspects of their game. Why is that terrifying? 1st place AND room for improvement?…it is exceedingly scary.

Chelsea have the most consistent defense in the Premier League. The Blues have only allowed 21 goals this season and their propensity for low-scoring games against big opponents means that that number is unlikely to rise up much higher. Ivanovic somehow always gets underrated, Cech is the embodiment of dependable, Luis has cleaned up (most) of his mistakes, and Cahill still makes me wonder how someone else did not pry him from Bolton before Chelsea did. Unless they encounter some serious injuries or have an “Arsenal vs Liverpool” moment before the end of the season, this defense will keep them in the title hunt until the end of the season.

Oddly enough, that is not the part that scares me…

Eto'o and Hazard for Chelsea

Chelsea are winning games and they are doing so without the aid of any type of impressive striker. Although I did love Eto’o’s backheel assist to Hazard in their last game, there is no way that any of Chelsea’s strikers could be seen as a player that is playing on a level required by a club of Chelsea’s stature. Currently, the main scoring threat for Chelsea is in the form of the ever-improving Belgian Eden Hazard. If Hazard continues to play at his current level, Chelsea have a chance in every single fixture. However, without a definite threat through the middle, Stamford Bridge SHOULD have faced difficulty staying in the top four. THIS is why they absolutely scare the daylights out of me…

IF Eto’o, Torres, or even Ba can make a decent contribution through the last 1/3 of the season (and not just Eto’o chasing down keepers and getting lucky blocks), then Chelsea could extend the lead at the top of the table and make the last section of their schedule look easy. Their defense and attacking midfield already have put the rest of the EPL on notice and an in-form striker could help seal the “Special One”‘s legacy at Chelsea. Manchester City seem unlikely to stop keeping up the pressure, but City seem to be almost as close to 100% as we can expect…Chelsea, on the other hand, feel much closer to 80-85% and they are still performing at an elite level. Who would want to face Chelsea if they were able to field their current team with Liverpool era-Torres or Eto’o from just a few seasons ago? (The answer: nobody…especially as nobody really wants to face them WITHOUT those two things)

In the beginning of the season, I predicted that Chelsea had a shot at second place as there would be too much striker shuffling…but the club has somehow survived that and they still seem to be one of the best contenders for the EPL throne. If the Blues can keep up this type of defensive prowess and add a serious goal scoring threat from somewhere OTHER than the midfield, then I will have to concede that my initial prediction was wrong. It also means that my other prediction of City winning the title “walking away,” will also be incorrect…admitting that scares me, but Chelsea’s potential scares me even more.

 

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