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Five Areas Where Chelsea Will Be Stronger Than Manchester United Next Season

Garry HayesFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2016

Five Areas Where Chelsea Will Be Stronger Than Manchester United Next Season

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    "The most important thing in football is to be the best team in the season and try to win your domestic league," Jose Mourinho told BBC Sport this week.

    Well, to do just that next season, Chelsea will have to overcome Manchester United, the reigning Premier League champions who stormed to the league title last term.

    The Red Devils may not have broken the record haul of 95 points set by Mourinho's Chelsea in 2006, but there is no doubting they were England's superior team last term, as the league table ultimately confirmed.

    But if head-to-head clashes were a true barometer of who the strongest outfit is or was over a season, Chelsea would have a credible case to declare their superiority over United.

    The Blues faced their Premier League foe five times last term—twice in the league and FA Cup and once in the Capital One Cup—defeating them on three occasions, losing just once.

    Those results were impressive enough, but that they came amid the upheaval of managerial changes, fixture congestion and a team in a state of flux as Chelsea's prolonged period of transition took hold, only adds to the achievement.

    So, now a year older, wiser and more experienced, how do the Blues compare to United right now? Bleacher Report looks at five areas where Chelsea can claim to be looking stronger than David Moyes' Manchester United for 2013-14.

The Manager

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    The fact he was cherry-picked by Sir Alex Ferguson to be his replacement at Manchester United is proof enough of the talents of David Moyes.

    The Scot enjoyed a successful decade in charge at Everton where he transformed the Toffees from perennial strugglers to a respected top-flight outfit once more.

    Yet for all the praise that has been heaped upon him throughout his career, it doesn't disguise the fact Moyes remains without a major trophy and is unproven at the highest level of football.

    Jose Mourinho, on the other hand, has been there before; seen it all and done it on more than one occasion.

    Back at Chelsea for a second spell in charge, he is one of the world's most revered managers and wherever he goes, success duly follows.

    United have no such guarantees where Moyes is concerned, but not only that, he has shown in the past that he is no match for Mourinho whenever they have come face-to-face.

    During his three years at Stamford Bridge from 2004 to 2007, Mourinho's Chelsea faced Moyes' Everton eight times. The outcome? Five Chelsea victories and three draws with an aggregate score of 15-6 in Chelsea's favor.

    Everton were renowned for being difficult to overcome under Moyes, but Mourinho's Chelsea more often than not turned that notion on its head.

    The Portuguese has won league titles in his native Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, not to mention UEFA Cups and Champions Leagues. Moyes, meanwhile, is still searching for that elusive piece of silverware.

    With all this in mind, it's not difficult to surmise that Chelsea already look much stronger from the dugout next season.

Attacking Midfield

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    If Chelsea fans were excited by news of the Blues bidding for Wayne Rooney on July 17 (via The Independent), they would have been equally concerned by the rumors any potential deal could involve Juan Mata moving the other way.

    Fortunately for Blues supporters, the Daily Telegraph has suggested this is not the case and they will have good reason to let out a considerable sigh of relief.

    Put simply, Spaniard Mata is an exceptional talent. Last season alone he was directly involved in 49 goals for the Blues, either scoring or grabbing an assist.

    With the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Victor Moses, Andre Schurrle, Frank Lampard and star-in-the-making Lucas Piazon alongside him, Chelsea look formidable.

    In comparison, United's options appear less enthralling. Ryan Giggs will turn 40 in 2012-13, while Nani and Antonio Valencia hardly strike fear into the opposition. Tom Cleverley is yet to make his mark and Wilfried Zaha is very much an unknown quantity after joining from Crystal Palace.

    Shinji Kagawa and Ashley Young are both talented, but comparing like-for-like, the Red Devils appear lightweight to the Blues in this department.

Strength in Depth

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    There came a point last season where Chelsea's squad looked incredibly thin on bodies. The end of the season was on the horizon and with the fixtures—and injuries—piling up, Rafa Benitez was struggling to find a balance as each week threw more games at the Blues.

    This summer the club has acted to eradicate that problem, though, and suddenly they look a little more balanced, with talent oozing all across the pitch.

    Loan stars Kevin De Bruyne and Tomas Kalas have returned to bolster numbers in midfield and defence respectively, while the addition of Andre Schurrle and Marco van Ginkel adds even more class to a talented, young squad.

    Lest we forget Wallace, too, who impressed on his debut in Bangkok against Singha All-Stars, while highly-rated youngster Josh McEachran has a year of first-team experience to draw upon having spent 2012-13 on loan at Middlesbrough.

    The Blues continue to chase a new striker, with Wayne Rooney apparently the only man on the radar according to Jose Mourinho (as per The Guardian). And even if Chelsea don't get their man they have Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and the impressive Romelu Lukaku to call upon for striking duties.

    Chelsea are an exciting team with strength across the pitch in their starting XI and also on the bench. Manchester United have talented players, but unlike their rivals, they lack the numbers upon which to call.

    Like-for-like, there probably isn't much between the starting XI for each team. But look beyond that and United look likely to struggle as the season takes hold with fringe players such as Alex Buttner, Anderson and Tom Cleverley not in the same bracket as Chelsea's recruits.

    The best part of two months remain in the transfer window, so with the Red Devils being linked with the likes of Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas (via the Daily Mail), it could very easily change. Right now, though, Chelsea look far the stronger squad.

Defence

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    After a season heavily dented by injury last term, much of the talk since has been of the demise of Chelsea captain John Terry. To be frank, it's all somewhat premature.

    The 31-year-old remains a fine talent and with Jose Mourinho back at Stamford Bridge, we can expect the Englishman to be returning to the peak of his powers.

    He's relentless and with David Luiz or Gary Cahill alongside him, he has defenders who complement his talents.

    Over the course of 2012-13, Chelsea conceded 39 goals. In comparison, although they were crowned champions, Manchester United saw their net bulge 43 times.

    With key players Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic all the wrong side of 30, can we expect that figure to creep up in the following 12 months?

    Experience counts for a lot, but with United's key defenders aging together, Chelsea, in contrast, have an impressive backline that is entering maturity at the right time.

     

Desire

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    While it's true the majority of this Chelsea team has never played under Jose Mourinho, the biggest and most influential characters in the Stamford Bridge dressing room have.

    The image above of John Terry and Frank Lampard captures perfectly the relationship the duo shared with Mourinho during his first spell in charge and we can expect more of the same in 2013-14.

    Mourinho is not only an exceptional tactician, he is a fine man-motivator, too, and he'll be rallying this Chelsea squad, driving them onto success next term.

    With Lampard and Terry behind their manager, it will only help his cause.

    That aside, Mourinho's pride is dented, as is that of Chelsea's. His last season at Real Madrid raised questions as to whether the Portuguese remains the "Special One", while Chelsea haven't lifted the Premier League trophy since 2010 and were knocked off their perch as European champions last year.

    Add all these factors together and the club will be bursting at the seams with ambition and desire to put things right.

    Manchester United on the other hand are almost a wounded beast after Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement. In David Moyes they have a new manager who is trying to establish a new order and if that wasn't difficult enough, he will have to do so with every club in England targeting them.

    As champions, United are going to be the scalp every team will be going after. Sniffing blood in the wake of Fergie's departure, they may very well have the confidence to do just that. Will United be ready for the challenge?

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