The Blues have gotten off to a bright start and look primed to lift their sixth league title.
Chelsea have established themselves among the best clubs in the world. The club have earned great success on the pitch and a passionate fanbase off it.
After a sub-par existence during the 20th century, the club rose to prominence under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. The London-based outfit lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy in 2011 and for the second time last season. Chelsea have also won the Europa League twice and five Premier League titles along with a host of other trophies. Their success has turned Chelsea into the seventh richest football club in the world.
The Blues have started spectacularly in Thomas Tuchel’s first full season in charge. They are joint top in the league (with Liverpool) and also started their UEFA Champions League title defence with a comfortable win against Zenit.
Here are five reasons that make Chelsea the favourites to win the Premier League title in the 2021-22 season.
5. Squad depth
Chelsea boasts arguably the strongest squad in the Premier League at present. The club possesses quality options all around the park from goalkeepers to forwards. The Blues splashed 115 million euros for Romelu Lukaku, among the most expensive in the league and also signed Saul Niguez on loan to add more firepower going forward.
Their squad depth was evident in the game against Spurs where N’Golo Kante was brought on for Mason Mount. The tireless Frenchman changed the dynamism of the game, adding more energy to the Chelsea midfield as they ran out 3-0 winners at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. This can only be attributed to the bench strength that Chelsea possess. Their depth will hold them well against their rivals in the race for the Premier League title.
4. Tactical flexibility
One unspoken characteristic of Chelsea is their flexibility to any type of gameplay. The Blues have always flourished under different managers – be it Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Jose Mourinho and even now with Tuchel.
The club has played under plenty of different systems and always manage to find versatile players. These players have thrived in multiple systems. Therefore, the squad is now tuned to different types of tactics and gameplay. Their versatility and experience would mean that Chelsea have the option to tweak and play under different systems within games, offering them more durability.
3. Cohesive gameplay and work-rate
Chelsea work very cohesively in their passing and their work rate on and especially off the ball. The Blues are abreast with their rivals in this regard in the Premier League this season.
In the first five games in the English top-flight, Chelsea have completed 85% of their passes, the third-highest in the league. Chelsea completed 91% of their short passes, following Manchester City. Out of the 2,830 passes that they have attempted so far this season, only 443 (15.6%) were long passes.
This shows how much the Blues value their possession. The team cumulatively exerts more than 135 pressures per game and are successful in 31.4% of their pressures in the league, more than any of their rivals.
2. Impregnable defence
Chelsea’s outstanding defence offers them sturdiness and cohesive work-rate off the ball. Tuchel typically employs three centre-backs with Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger forming an indomitable back three.
The trio brings the perfect blend of defensive quality, aerial and on-ball capability to the side – a luxury that Tuchel perfectly works with. The wing-back pair of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso provide additional width in the attack and numbers in defence. They are further backed by the young English duo of Reece James and Ben Chilwell.
Chelsea win 72% of their attempted tackles in the league, only behind Liverpool’s 85%. Almost 26% of their successful tackles are in the attacking third, more than Liverpool’s 21% and Manchester City’s 23% and second only to Manchester United (30%). This shows how well they press and further reinforce their defence.
The saying ‘Defence wins you titles’ perfectly applies to Chelsea’s case. The Blues conceded the fewest number of goals in a Champions League season last term with only four. This season, Tuchel’s side have conceded only once so far. Therefore, their impregnable defence offers them a great chance at toppling their rivals to the title this season.
1. Tuchel’s tactical ingenuity
It takes a craftsman to polish and make a rough diamond shine. This is exactly what Thomas Tuchel has done with Chelsea since his arrival in January 2021. Within eight months, Tuchel has taken a then-underwhelming Chelsea side under Frank Lampard to the FA Cup final and won them the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.
The German has turned Chelsea into a tactical machine. His well-drilled gameplay has rubbed off on the players. His tactical flexibility in using a 3-5-2 or a 5-3-2 (which he used against Liverpool after going a man down to salvage a 1-1 draw) shows that the tactician can employ attacking as well as defensive setups within the same game. He also won praise from Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal for the same.
The German has the exact set of players to enact his gameplay. Therefore, with Tuchel’s ingenuity, passion and Chelsea’s durability, this could be the making of another dynasty at Stamford Bridge starting with the Premier League title in the 2021-22 season.