Chelsea once again showed that they can rise to the big occasion, producing a stunning performance to crush title rivals Arsenal 6-0 on Saturday. The case of “mistaken identity” over the red card has taken most of the headlines together with the fact that it was Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the Gunners. As Jose Mourinho rightly pointed out, Chelsea were already 2-0 up and in charge of the game before the penalty incident.
Having produced a similar display to destroy London rivals Tottenham 4-0 and recorded a double over Manchester City and a priceless win over Liverpool, the Blues have a magnificent record in the top matches. However, they do have an Achilles heel as demonstrated by an inexplicably poor display at Aston Villa recently.
The Blues ought to have dismissed Villa without too much difficulty and may well have done so had a first half goal by Matic not be incorrectly ruled out. Be that as it may, there was no excuse for an awful second period in which they had Willian and Ramires sent off with Mourinho himself red carded in the closing stages.
It is hard to believe that it was the same team that strode out confidently at Stamford Bridge to all but destroy Arsenal’s title ambitions last weekend. The strength in depth of their squad was illustrated by the fact that they did not miss Willian or Ramires one little bit. The Villa defeat could prove very costly as it handed the advantage to Man City.
Chelsea still have to go to Anfield for a clash with old rivals Liverpool. With the Reds still scoring for fun, it is going to be a fascinating clash with Chelsea’s defence currently the best in the League. It will also see Daniel Sturridge determined to prove a point against his old club and Brendan Rodgers managing a side against his mentor.
Before that, Chelsea have to concentrate 100% on more humble opposition. First up is a short trip to struggling Crystal Palace. Although they are still among the favourites to go down, they have certainly tightened up in recent matches and are exactly the sort of potential banana skin that the Blues have slipped up on in the past. Chelsea definitely have a problem in overcoming inferior opposition, something that has not been a problem for Man City.
Mourinho has consistently played down Chelsea’s title prospects, insisting that he is building towards 2014/15. Saturday’s game will tell us a lot about Chelsea’s ability to go the distance in the title race this season.