In a football league as competitive and unpredictable as the English Premier League, you don’t really have a clear winner until the final few weeks of the season. Albeit there’s always a front runner, the margin between the leaders and the chasing pack are so small that they are trivial, forcing you to think twice before betting your bottom dollar on them.
In the 2016/17 season, however, Chelsea have been in a league of their own, opening up a monumental gap at the top which has left everyone else to catch up, and how? The Blues seem to have found the winning mentality once again and have been firing at all cylinders ever since manager Antonio Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation.
Since then, Chelsea have played 18 games, winning 16 of them and successfully climbing to the top of the pile. And not just that, but also consolidating their position with a rich vein of form last seen during their title-winning season in 14/15.
1. Nine points is too huge to overturn
It may be only 24 games into the season, but Chelsea’s 9 points gap at the top already seems too huge to fill.
The sensational 13-match winning run helped them put their early season woes behind them and outpace everyone else, racing to such a monumental lead which is practically impossible to topple.
Additionally, the chasing pack also need Chelsea to collapse in equal magnitude, to have any chance of usurping them from the summit, which seems highly unlikely given their indomitable form.
2. Chelsea have all their players fit and firing
One of the major factors for Chelsea’s impressive run of form is the optimal fitness of all the key players. Conte has had the liberty to field his strongest side in virtually every game, thereby exercising his tactics to perfection.
Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Diego Costa, all of whom played a vital role in Chelsea’s impressive title triumph 3 seasons ago, went through a rough period during the dismal defence in the following season. However, in the current one under Conte, each one of them has found their footing again and are performing to the hilt, week in, week out.
3. New signings have impressed as well
Save for Michy Batshuayi, who’s yet to prove his worth, Chelsea’s signings have been a huge hit with the club.
Pedro, after enduring an underwhelming debut campaign last time out, has hit the pique this season, putting up performances that are reminiscent of his glorious days at Barcelona.
David Luiz, who returned after a 2-year exile in France, is back to refurbish his status as the best centre-back in the world, whereas the latest youngster on the block, Marco Alonso, has been the most impressive of them all.
Roped in from Fiorentina as a deadline day transfer, the 26-year old Spaniard has slotted into Conte’s set-up seamlessly, and thus far, proved his mettle for every penny the club spent in his pursuit.
Alonso has become a regular starter, which not everybody expected upon his arrival, and is on course to become one of the EPL signings of the season.
4. Faltering rivals
A cursory glance at the chasing pack throws up a dreaded prospect.
Whilst Tottenham Hotspur are once again competing for Champions League places; it’s hard to see them assail the 9-point gap. Arsenal, as per usual, are blowing hot and cold, whereas Manchester City have failed to find their rhythm under Pep.
Manchester United have found their purple patch only very recently, but seeing them turn a 15 point gap on its head is asking too much. Liverpool are currently on their worst run of form under Klopp, while the less we talk about defending champions Leicester City, the better.
All this point to one clear winner.
Chelsea may still have a lot of work to do, while their exertions of contending on all three fronts may eventually get to them, but it will need a downfall of colossal proportions to see them fall totally out of contention of the Premier League crown.