Chelsea lost for the first time in fourteen outings after suffering a two goal loss at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Antonio Conte and his men were on route to becoming the first team in the English topflight to have achieved a 14-game unbeaten run but Mauricio Pochettino and his charges had their own intentions of not stopping them but also closing the gap between the top teams and setting up a title race for themselves.
Chelsea has been in spectacular form this season and with Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City having a tight fixture list because of the European competitions, it looks certain that Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are the teams to challenge Chelsea. Would Chelsea be able to hang on?
On Wednesday, Diego Costa and Pedro seemed a bit like the Mourinho-era where there was no coordination and cooperation between the men leading the attack. Costa has been in scintillating form this season and Pedro has done enough to knock Willian off the starting spot, starting many matches and scoring in the process.
For the first time in three months, Conte has to go back to the drawing board and assess what went wrong against on Wednesday. Was it the physical dominance of Wanyama or Chelsea needed a more passing game and could have done much better with Fabregas instead of Nemanja Matic?
Chelsea and Conte Are Still Favorites Because of No European Competition
Whiles the likes of Arsenal have been paired with Bayern Munich which happens to be the third meeting between the two teams in five seasons, Manchester United play Saint Etienne in the Europa League and Manchester City’s second placement in a group against FC Barcelona pairing them against an AS Monaco side that is brimming with confidence scoring as match as 56 goals in the first 19 games of the Ligue Un season.
These matches would be coming thick and fast with player rotation being a regular fixture with these clubs. Aside this, Chelsea has gained enough strength taken in long breaks after matches and this has helped the team so far in the season and would continue to help the team as the season goes on.
Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp seems to be the closest rivals Chelsea can have this season but Liverpool has lost what it takes to become winners of the English Premier League. Having placed second in the 2008/09 and 2013/14, the championship seems far from the reach of the 18-time champions and Klopp would need a sense of urgency and consistency from his players in order to break the jinx and lead the team to its first Premier League title.
The two Manchester clubs seems to have had the same rhythm in opposite directions all season with Manchester City enjoying the start of the league season and United enjoying mid-season. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have three competitions remaining after being ousted by Southampton from the League Cup but the problem with Arsenal is that the team collapses in the middle of the season right from the Champions League Round of 16. If Arsene Wenger can hold onto eliminating Bayern Munich from the competition and maintaining a top four spot during this time then Arsenal might be able to push Chelsea right to the end.
The English Premier League has been one of the best in the competitions history this campaign with six teams fighting for the top four positions in the league and teams like Bournemouth taken much needed points from the top teams.
Chelsea has led the log for a very long time and a loss still sees them five points above second placed Liverpool. Conte is a tactician who has achieved success with sub-par players right from Serie B up till this point and with no European fixture come February, he can assemble a squad that can fight all the way to the title in May.
Chelsea’s next match is against Peterborough in the English FA Cup on Sunday January 8 at 7AM PST.