Monday, 10 May 2010

The Champions

The emphatic result at Stamford Bridge yesterday ensured that Chelsea were crowned champions of the Premier League. Few neutrals could really deny the fact that the best side in the league went onto win it. They scored 7 or more for the 4th time at home this season and there was something almost inevitable about the result before the game had even kicked off. The new manager Carlo Ancelotti has guided the side to their first title in 4 years.

At the start of the season there was some apprehension about Ancelotti’s arrival, he had been successful in the Champions League with AC Milan but had only won 1 scudetto in his 7 year stint at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. Whether he could settle into his new environment effectively and quickly was the main concern for Chelsea fans and pundits going into the season. With the spine of the team consisting of Cech, Terry, Essien, Lampard and Drogba Chelsea boast talent that very few can compete with. However, for the last couple of seasons they have taken their foot of the gas at crucial times and with the continual managerial merry-go-round they have lacked the stability seen at their main rivals Manchester United.

The surprising thing for Chelsea this season is that it took until the final game of the season before they were confirmed as the Premier League Champions. They won all 6 games against last season’s top 4 which should have been enough to guarantee them the title. They have dropped points against sides they should have beaten comfortably away from home, often looking very lacklustre as they appeared against Blackburn 6 weeks ago. Their home form has become what everyone had been accustomed to under the stewardship of Mourinho, where they remained undefeated throughout his tenure.

All the top sides have endured injury plagued seasons, Chelsea losing Bosingwa, Carvalho, Essien and both Coles at various stages of this campaign. The sudden transformation of Malouda has been like a new signing whilst the emergence of Alex and Ivanovic in the back 4 has been nothing short of spectacular. They are a huge side (Ashley Cole excluded), the back 4 at the end of the season are all 6 foot plus which is tremendous for defending set pieces against lower league opposition as well as creating danger when in attacking positions. Whilst John Terry has been endearing himself yet again to the English public his performances during the season have been that of a true leader.

Without the irreplaceable Essien protecting the back 4 Ballack and Mikel have deputised in his absence. Mikel is the one player in danger of being off loaded in the summer as he has not just lived up the hype surrounding his transfer from Norwegian side Lyn Oslo in 2006, he lacks the range of passing that Ballack has or the sheer class of Essien. Joe Cole, Malouda and Kalou have all contributed much from midfield as well. Up front Didier Drogba has won the Golden Boot whilst Anelka has been simply breath taking at points. He seems to have developed the ability to slow the game down so well which compliments his pace perfectly, he should get more goals but his movement and touch is up there with the best the game has to offer.

The biggest bone of contention in recent weeks has been how Frank Lampard could have been omitted from the PFA team of the season having scored 22 league goals. Admittedly he has scored quite a few in the final weeks of the season but his all round contribution has been outstanding. He should be the first midfielder on the team sheet for England in the summer but still seems to play second fiddle to Steven Gerrard which is beginning to seem more bizarre as the years go by. Be it left foot, right foot, header or volley his technique is fantastic and what he gives the Chelsea side in terms of goals and assists is truly irreplaceable. The best side in the league has won the Premiership this season and Rooney excluded they have had the top 2 players in the league in Drogba and Lampard. European Glory will again be talked up all summer but it was the Premiership title that the side wanted more than anything this season, whether this will be the start of something bigger only time will tell.....

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