It was indeed probably the worst way to start a new year, a capitulation of immense proportions, one which made one of the sturdiest defences in Europe over the last year look like a Sunday league defence. Moments after a club legend who we let depart rescued three points for our most potent title rivals.
Cue the most bizarre occurrence yet to be experienced in the EPL this season; the top two teams with equal number of matches played, wins, losses, goals scored and goals conceded.
It left the Blues – who so many had predicted that they would romp to the title – level at the top with the defending champions and the most potent threats to that prediction. Cue of course the media skittish allegiance suddenly claiming that Chelsea had lost momentum and Manchester City now had the advantage and would most likely go on to win the title. Some have even gone the length to suggest that Chelsea would come May regret allowing Super Frank to leave because in doing so we probably handed the title to City: citing the late equalizer against Chelsea at The Etihad and his late goal to rescue three points at Sunderland as evidence. Indeed the scenario is plausible, in fact it has a fairytale ring to it that makes it really interesting and fascinating but I believe the media is again over reaching just as they did when they began early predictions that Chelsea would cruise to the title. The media were too quick to suggest that one club would have the title sewn up so early, and here’s why.
First is the Jose Mourinho factor. Many may argue about his personality, perhaps even criticize his handling of the press and responses to defeat but one thing that they cannot argue against is Jose’s managerial capabilities. It is not a coincidence that Jose has never lost a league title when his team was top of the league at Christmas. It means Jose knows the pressure that comes with this situation and is perhaps the best manager to have in charge of the team in these kind of circumstances. Yes it could be argued that at previous times his teams had a substantial point difference to work with but we all know how Jose is always keen to whip up an “us against them” mentality in his teams. What better way to motivate this team than using the position we find ourselves in the league table at the moment, along with the refereeing gaffes of the last couple of matches to create the perfect motivation for the team. Jose is simply the best at these kinds of situation.
Secondly, we have actually played more of our tougher opposition away from home in the first half of the season, meaning that most of our big games in 2015 will be at the fortress called Stamford Bridge. Yes, we no longer have the longest home unbeaten run in Europe but one thing that is clear to all is that Chelsea is always a tough proposition to win anything against at Stamford Bridge regardless of the strength of the opposition and also the fact that Jose (again) is yet to lose to any of the “big teams” in England since his second coming. Whilst Chelsea will host Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in the second half of the season, City have to play away to Chelsea, United and Liverpool, which increases the likelihood of City dropping points in these games.
Thirdly, the 2012 Champions League triumph has taught me never to doubt a Chelsea team ever again. We are Chelsea, the same team that hurdled some of Europe’s finest to finish as victors in the Champions League. I mean, we won the Champions League in Bayern Munich’s home stadium against Bayern Munich. We overturned an almost impossible first leg deficit against Napoli, we played almost 70 minutes against Leo Messi and his marauding Barcelona team with 10 men and still drew 2-2 at the Nou Camp. Some of the heroes of that run may have left but of all the most central features of the astonishing achievement, only two (Ash and Lamps) are no longer here. We have Drog, Big Pete, the ever mercurial JT and not forgetting our very own Blue Kenyan Ramires who dragged us back into the Napoli with a superb assist for Drogba and also scored that delightful lob at the Nou Camp. With these characters in the dressing room, coupled with the hunger of younger players such as Courtois, Hazard, Costa and the others to win the EPL, I have no doubt in my mind that we would be celebrating come May. You should believe so too.