Chelsea are still searching for their first league win and goal under the managerial reign of Rafa Benitez yet the Spaniard insists his side can win the Premier League title.
Chelsea followed up the 0-0 draw against Manchester City over the weekend with a solid, but unspectacular, repeat of the score line in the derby against Fulham. It is very clear that Benitez is setting Chelsea up as a side that are very difficult to beat, although it will be quite a while before you see them scoring sambla football goals
His comments seem to be based on the gamble that Chelsea are going to keep more clean sheets than anyone else in the league for the rest of the season. He is searching for an attacking formula that works for him because he doesn’t seem to believe in the system he’s inherited from Roberto Di Matteo.
This is possible because Chelsea have looked very strong as a defensive unit, only conceding 13 goals this season. If they can get an attacking system worked out quickly which works for the boss and the players then they can eat at the seven point gap from Manchester United.
The baffling decision of Benitez to leave Juan Mata on the bench for the match against Fulham shows he is searching for an attacking combination that works for him. Clean sheets and narrow wins seem to be what Benitez is engineering the team towards.
“It’s still a long way to go. We have to keep going. We’ll have chances – Remember last season when City were ahead and it was ‘easy’. Then they needed to win their last game. It’s a long, long competition,” Benitez said after the 0-0 draw against Fulham.
History does suggest that Chelsea still have a strong chance of winning the league because Manchester United had an eight point gap with only six games to go last season and still managed to lose the title to Manchester City.
However, Chelsea cannot rely on other sides slipping up if they are going to win the Premier League. They need wins and quickly. Solid defensive performances at home are only so good if the side is scoring goals and it looks like Benitez is trying to change the attacking system which could cost more ground than it gains.
Lewis Doe writes for the football blog Soccerlens.com.