9 Reasons Chelsea Are Biggest Threat to Manchester City in Premier League
While the season is long and early form can be potentially misleading, it seems Chelsea have all the peripherals to launch a serious title-challenging campaign.
Here are nine reasons why.
Nothing beats a good solid start to the season.
Chelsea have opened their account with three wins and a draw, recording three clean sheets in the process.
The draw against Queens Park Rangers should probably have been a win, having two clear penalties denied under the shadow of the handshake conundrum.
You can do one of two things at the start of a campaign: start well and promise to carry on, or start poorly and promise to improve.
We all know which one's better.
While a feel-good factor at a club is indicative of a good run of form, for Chelsea, this notion applies to the fact that for once, there's little or no internal turmoil.
The worst thing that's happened so far is Florent Malouda has (predictably) had a huge sulk because he's a subpar player and everyone's finally realised.
No repeats of Andre Villas-Boas, Carlo Ancelotti or Luiz Felipe Scolari currently threaten Stamford Bridge, and the value of stability and harmony cannot be underestimated in a title-challenging season.
Chelsea's squad is just insanely deep.
They've got two excellent players for each position and shored up their problematic area during the summer with the acquisition of Cesar Azpilicueta.
The midfield is stacked, the front line healthy and the defensive line deep. Roberto Di Matteo could field two different teams capable of beating half of the Premier League.
Title-winning teams have a star player, a go-to guy.
Eden Hazard cost a lot, but he's currently proving he's worth every penny. He's got six assists, one goal and averages 2.5 key passes per game.
The Belgian was the difference-maker in the Blues' opener against Wigan, dragged his team to victory against a stubborn Reading side and showed great link-up ability with Fernando Torres against Newcastle.
Hazard was worth every penny, and he can lead Chelsea to title glory.
Fernando Torres Is Back
Chelsea were plagued last season by a striking conundrum.
Didier Drogba was coming to the end of his contract, and his departure was inevitable. While Roberto Di Matteo tried to turn to his Spanish alternative, Fernando Torres continually underperformed.
Many believed the World Cup winner was struggling under the shadow of his Ivorian colleague and the fact that he represented a constant "failsafe" option.
Drogba is gone, and Torres has two goals in four games so far. He looks happy, plays with confidence and could be set for a big haul.
The Formation Is Right
One of the most important things to get right is your team's formation in accordance with the current personnel.
Roberto Di Matteo juggled the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3 last season, but has settled with the former, and rightly so.
Chelsea have a number of attacking midfielders who wouldn't function too well in a flat-four midfield, and to spend £32 million on Eden Hazard and not play him in his preferred, most devastating position would be foolish.
City's Champions League Draw Is Horrendous
Roberto Mancini might have thought he drew the short straw last season by landing Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
City's squad is deep, but they have no "weaker" team in their group and will be required to field full-strength XIs for all six games. Chelsea, meanwhile, will face FC Nordsjælland twice.
A squad even as big as City's will tire with such a tough fixture list.
United Still Have Weaknesses
Manchester United made good moves during the summer transfer window.
They secured a top-class playmaker to play "in the hole," signed a world-class striker who is capable of netting 40 goals when fit for the club and, crucially, changed formation to fall in line with contemporary football.
They still have a few glaring weaknesses, though. Rafael is far from the ideal defender (however good he is going forward), holding midfield is carrying old legs as well as fresh ones and Sir Alex Ferguson can't seem to decide who he wants to play in goal.
They're far from nailed on for a title and, on paper, look significantly weaker than Chelsea.
Top of the Pile with More to Come
Chelsea are at the top of the Premier League table with an unbeaten domestic record.
They're yet to unleash Cesar Azpilicueta, Marko Marin and Oscar in blue and are unlucky not to have four wins rather than three.
The Stamford Bridge outfit are still gelling but have made an excellent start. The same cannot be said for Manchester United, who tripped at Everton and struggled against Southampton, and Manchester City, who were held by Stoke and scraped past the Saints.