By: Fortune Achonna
2010 was the last Chelsea won the Premier League, it was also the last time they were anywhere near the top of the table. Since then two distant 3rd places and a 6th place have followed. Given Mourinho's domestic record with Porto, Inter and indeed during his first stint at Chelsea - before Abramovich ruined the equilibrium by bringing in Shevchenko, Mourinho will be under pressure to deliver the title back to Stamford Bridge; but does the Special One have the tools needed to do so?
Defensively, Chelsea are as good as anyone in the league, that is not to say it is great - great is: Cech without the headgear; a young John Terry partnered with Ricardo Carvalho; with William Gallas and Paulo Ferrara patrolling the wings.
Still, the current batch is not bad. Terry (screenshot one & four) and in particular Cahill (screenshot two & five) are not often rounded by attackers and when they are, Petr Cech is on hand to deal with it. Aerially, the central defenders in addition with Branislav Ivanovic (screenshot three) are unconquerable.
Chelsea play with a deep back line, it is coincidence that a return to this system has seen the best out of John Terry, but the absolute worst from Luiz. Luiz likes to step forward and intercept the ball early in the oppositions attack, so he can catch the opposition unaware with a serge into the oppositions half where his dribbling and shooting skills come into play. This works great in a high line; in a deep line it leaves the defence exposed because the oppostion's attack has had more time to be establish by the time they reach Luiz and others. It is no surprise Terry and Cahill have barely been dribbled around and have low foul stats, whilst Luiz consistently ranks high in those two columns.
Luckily with the likes of Ramires (screenshot three) working tirelessly to screen the entire back four, then regardless whoever is playing at the back will be protected and will rarely have to deal with attackers - something highlighted by the few shots their opponents have on goal (screenshot four).
Although Oscar has been their best player, Hazard is simply irreplaceable. As you can see from the slide above, Chelsea have few dribblers. They average 8 per game and Hazard is accountable for many of them. The next best is Oscar and he has only 14 to has name. Two of Chelsea's victories have been by slender margins and they have drawn many times too. If the others cannot step up, Chelsea will suffer long-term if Hazard suffers a long-term injury.
Due to Chelsea's inadequacies with their strikers they need to have all three of their attacking midfielders firing on all cylinders to stand any chance of the title. For this to happen Mourinho needs to stop fiddling with Mata, Schurrle and Willian and pick one of the three to play in Chelsea's attacking trio. If Mourinho feels Mata is not suited to his counter-attacking methods (and regardless of rotation possibly affecting his game, Mata's form suggests he is unsuited), then Mourinho should declare so and drop Mata indefinitely.
This may seem harsh but two of Chelsea's victories have been by slender goal margins and due to their profligacy in front of goal against Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham, Chelsea have dropped points. Considering Chelsea's defence and the strength of their midfield I suspect they will have a strong say in where the Premier League goes, but if they cannot compensate for their strike-force inadequacies with another match winner from attacking midfield, then Hazard and Oscar will be found wanting too many times for Chelsea to win the league.
*All statistics courtesy of WhoScored
*Click for: Can Liverpool win the league? Can Manchester City win the league? Can Manchester United win the league?
**Can Arsenal win the league? Coming soon