This season there have been a few shocks in the league. Two of these shocks have come in matches that involved the league leader Chelsea.
Away at Wigan they lost their keeper and the game as Wigan played intelligent football and kept the ball away from their undermanned opponents. Chelsea are by no means the first side to discover that football is incredibly difficult to play when your team is a man down.
The next league loss they suffered was away to Villa, who took advantage of sloppy defending from set pieces to nab the points after a solid defensive effort combined with a good dose of luck.
Looking at the table now, though, it is Chelsea who stands well clear of the pack with a five point lead that makes them the masters of their own fate from here on in.
The ability to grind out a result against quality opposition was again shown this weekend as they fought their way to a precious victory against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
It is no coincidence that they have tightened up at set pieces and generally shown more urgency at certain times during games following the two losses they suffered earlier in the season.
Therefore, to this writer it seems that while no team wants to lose, Ancelotti's Chelsea have benefited enormously from having the wind knocked out of them on their travels.
Suddenly, they realized that this season was not going to be the walk in the park it seemed to be early on. Suddenly, they realized that there are teams up and down the table who can and will pull surprises out of the hat that will cripple the chances of the high flyers.
The value of the early losses will be seen more as the season progresses and Chelsea look to increase the lead they have already garnered for themselves. A stumble is something that checks enthusiasm with caution and tempers arrogance with awareness.
Much has been said about the impact of the African Cup of Nations, and the players that will be lost for the duration of this tournament.
However, if Chelsea continues to gain points week to week, by the time the tournament is upon them they may not need to worry about missing players as they will be well and truly comfortable at the head of the table; if recent form and this weekend's results is anything to go by.
The way they are playing has been at times magical, and ironically they have at times looked more like Manchester United than Manchester United.
A loss is never welcomed by anyone, except maybe the bookies, but two early losses for Chelsea could well be the spur that the Londoners need to win the league for the first time since Mourinho was in charge.
With the position they find themselves in now, the memory of these losses will keep them well aware that any nonchalance will be punished by almost any team in the competition.
In two weeks time they will face London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates.
The two sides have been the most consistent in recent weeks, which is reflected in the standings, with Arsenal second thanks to a plus-22 goal difference.
Chelsea have plus-21 goals, so neither have had any trouble scoring thus far.
It could quite possibly be a war of attrition that materializes at the Emirates as both sides will be well aware of the danger presented by their opponents.
Chelsea's difficulties at Wigan and Villa could well come to haunt Arsenal though, as the Blues will be in no mood to taste the bile of defeat again. The experience and age that Chelsea have could well be the difference in what will be an intriguing match.
The EPL trophy could well end up in London this season, and the match on Nov. 29 could go a long way towards deciding where in London it will be.
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