In the closest Premier League title race in over a decade (per this excellent report from Bobby McMahon at Forbes), Chelsea currently have the edge. For all of Jose Mourinho’s talk about young eggs and little horses, the Blues are top of the table with three months to go until the end of the 2013-14 season. Although Arsenal and Manchester City are not too far behind, Chelsea are better placed than they have been for years to bring the title back to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho is the ultimate decisive factor in their chances of success. The Special One has made it clear since his return that he is building for the future, a long-term project that might not immediately deliver trophies, as outlined in this quote from January, per The Telegraph:
We are improving a lot, the team, the players. So the perspective of Champagne in the future is good. We are going in a good direction. But this season? I don't think so. Our main objective this season is to build a team. The best way to build a team is to be competing for things. When you play Europa League, no evolution. When you play in the Premier League 20 points behind the leader, no evolution. Evolution comes at the same time you build a team and have serious competition. I think, next season, we’re going to have a very strong team, starting from day one with everybody.
His manipulation of the media and his managerial mind games alleviate the pressure on the squad. Reporters tie themselves in knots trying to dissect his latest soundbite rather than the team’s performances, and that lack of attention has allowed the players to thrive.
Eden Hazard in particular has been a revelation this year. Having joined Chelsea on the back of their historic Champions League win, he must have been completely bewildered as to the events of last season. Now, with Mourinho’s return having given at least the illusion of stability, he believes that they can win the Premier League title (per Chelsea TV, H/T The Mirror)
Top of the league. I go in my bed, I dream. I hope at the end of the season it will be the same. It's a pleasure to play for this team and to work for that.
While Manchester City could reclaim top spot if they beat Sunderland in their rescheduled fixture, their continuing involvement in the cup competitions will cause congestion towards the decisive end of the domestic season. Arsenal could be forced to focus on the FA Cup to end their nine-year trophy drought, leaving Chelsea to concentrate on the Premier League run-in.
These factors have been accounted for in Bloomberg Sport’s latest predictions.
The table is calculated using data from Opta, run through 100,000 simulations of the remaining fixtures. While this projection does not guarantee the Blues’ success, and shows that the race is likely to remain incredibly close right up until the 11th of May, statistically they are in a stronger position than their rivals.
Add that to the confidence of the squad, both individually and as a collective, and the tactical nous of Mourinho, and you have a football club that are perfectly placed to take the title.