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Chelsea FC: Despite Jose Mourinho's Comments, the Blues Still Have Title Hopes

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Jose Mourinho the Chelsea manager looks on prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on March 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Daniel TilukFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho told BBC Sport, in his post-match interview after Saturday's loss to Crystal Palace, the Blues' Premier League title aspirations are over.

Since when are we in the habit of taking the Portuguese's words (h/t ESPN FC) at face value?

While certainly undermined and dented by John Terry's unfortunate own goal at Selhurst Park, Chelsea's title challenge is relatively unchanged.

Liverpool's 4-0 dismantling of Tottenham was virtually meaningless to the Blues' title hopes. Despite their hiccup at Crystal Palace, Chelsea were always going to have to win at Anfield to secure the championship.

The game will be discussed ad nauseam, but here's your first Chelsea vs. Liverpool preview: The Pensioners struggle against teams who hate to "play football."

The West Hams, Crystal Palaces and Aston Villas of the world give Chelsea the lion's share of possession—making it hard for Mourinho's men to counter with pace and vigour.

What were Chelsea thinking selling Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool with only Fernando Torres as cover?
What were Chelsea thinking selling Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool with only Fernando Torres as cover?Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool aren't a defensive team, they want the ball and Chelsea will be more than willing to give it to them. As we've seen against Manchester City, Arsenal and in the Champions League (excluding FC Basel), counter-attacking suits the Blues perfectly.

Meaning you'd be well within reason to assume Chelsea can beat the Reds at Anfield.

If that happens—and Chelsea remain undefeated henceforth—Liverpool would fall at least one point short of the Blues come the season's last day.

What then of Manchester City?

The Citizens provide the largest question mark surrounding Chelsea's title race. Finding five points for them to drop is a difficult—but not an impossible or improbable—task.

The bastions of direct football, Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis, will be agents of Chelsea come season's end.
The bastions of direct football, Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis, will be agents of Chelsea come season's end.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

First, the Mancunian side will face the "19th-century" tactics of West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa; Chelsea will be hoping City's trips to Merseyside will be their greatest source of bother—as Everton and Liverpool will be looking to take a collective six points from the Sky Blues.

If Manchester City win all five of those games—including matches against point-hungry sides West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland—they deserve to win the title.

Though Mourinho would never admit to its plausibility—five points dropped from City and a win against Liverpool doesn't seem too abstract a concept.

In a contextual sense, the Champions League serves as Chelsea's greatest target but also their largest hindrance in the Premier League title race. Manchester City and Liverpool have no European obligations, leaving the Blues at a marked disadvantage.

Could the Champions League be more harmful than helpful considering the closeness of the Premiership?
Could the Champions League be more harmful than helpful considering the closeness of the Premiership?Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In 2012, while progressing through the UCL—and eventually winning the trophy—the West Londoners dropped 18 of their last 36 available points in the Premier League.

What's the importance?

This small sample might suggest Chelsea progressing in cup tournaments is detrimental to their league position. The attrition needed on European and domestic fronts is immense, and the fact Chelsea's title rivals have no such concern is not ideal.

That said, Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini haven't won a treble in their careers—Mourinho has. The Portuguese knows what it takes to balance multiple competitions and be successful, whether he can do it with this Chelsea outfit remains to be seen.

More worrying than the Champions League are the five fixtures—excluding Liverpool—Chelsea must navigate in the Premiership. Stoke City (H), Swansea City (A), Sunderland (H), Norwich City (H) and Cardiff City (A) all need points to avoid the relegation zone and will prove difficult sides to break down.

Which—as we witnessed Saturday—can give Chelsea fits.

Jose Mourinho's side cannot afford another blip, else the Premier League mountain will be too steep a climb.
Jose Mourinho's side cannot afford another blip, else the Premier League mountain will be too steep a climb.Scott Heavey/Getty Images

If the Blues drop another point, then Mourinho can say with supreme confidence his side are out of the championship conversation—but not before. Chelsea essentially had one mulligan over their last seven fixtures; unfortunately, they used it on Crystal Palace.

Are Chelsea favourites—or even second favourites—to win the league?

Answer: No.

Are Chelsea's title hopes on a knife's edge?

Answer: Very much so.

However, should you be shocked if John Terry's hoisting the Premier League trophy above his head come 11 May?

Answer: Absolutely not.

This rendition of the Barclay's Premier League has proven anything is possible; just when you think the competition's cleared, you realise you know less than before.

So, while rather inauspicious at the moment, Chelsea's Premier League ambitions are by no means exhausted—despite their manager's words to the contrary.

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