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Should Chelsea be considered favourites for the Premier League?

Chelsea are regarded as one of the favourites to win this season’s Premier League title, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, with the 2021/22 season anticipated to be a very close battle.

Over the last couple of seasons, the league winners had been established by the end of March or beginning of April. On top of that, the only serious and consistent teams had been Jurgen Klopp’s men and Pep Guardiola’s side, who have gone head-to-head with each other and have been simply levels ahead of the rest of the league.

Having won the Champions League last season, Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea issued a statement of intent to the Premier League as they managed to hold on to a crucial point away to Anfield, where the atmosphere was hostile and in favour of the home side Liverpool. Whilst being down to ten men for the full second half, the Blues showed their defensive discipline and ability to handle a huge amount of attacking pressure with ease.

So should Chelsea now be deemed favourites to win the Premier League this season?

 

Thomas Tuchel’s strict system

 

In order to become title contenders, a consistent and effective system is required that allows the players to play to their strengths and their sky-high potential. This was something that was not possible under Frank Lampard, as there was missing holes in the starting line-up and there was a lack of clear identity of how Chelsea were setup to play.

Since Tuchel has taken over, the side have moved to a 3-4-2-1 formation, which has benefited the team to maintain possession of the ball as they now have enough players in each third of the pitch. The duties and responsibilities have increased within this setup for the defenders, for instance, the centre-back has to cover a lot of areas on and off the ball, as well as ensure their passing and technical ability is absolutely spot on with no room for errors.

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Tuchel’s system has proven to be effective and productive, as individuals like Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Jorginho are thriving within this environment, players who would more or less not be  seen as regular starters at the other top teams in the league. Not only that, the wing-backs play a crucial role up and down the pitch, as they provide the the extra dimension near the touchline as well as the ideal security on the defensive side of the game.

 

Romelu Lukaku’s goal-scoring ability

 

Romelu Lukaku returns home to Stamford Bridge after leaving the club in the summer of 2012. From then up until now, he has gone on to prove himself at a relegation side and at a mid-table team in the Premier League. Also, the Belgian international did well at Manchester United, despite not being played to his strengths as both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to provide a direct and attacking approach for the centre forward to flourish within.

The 28-year-old went on to make a name for himself in the Italian league, with his goal contributions helping Inter Milan, a side that has been considered as sleeping giants since Jose Mourinho had left the club. As Lukaku scored 24 goals and assisted 11 goals in 36 Serie A appearances during the 2020/21 season, he led the club to their first league title since 2010.

Back in the top-tier of English football, Lukaku will be a huge upgrade on the likes of Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner, as he will be able to provide 20-25 Premier League goals a season that Chelsea needs from their striker to be genuinely considered favourites. And with players like Kai Havertz, Marcus Alonso and Reece James in the starting line-up, there is creativity and imagination in abundance for Lukaku to pounce onto.

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The flaws within the opposition sides 

 

Keeping the attention away from Chelsea being favourites for the time being, what about the teams that will be competing with the Blues for the league title?

Liverpool arguably have the strongest and most dominant first XI in Europe when all fit and in form. However, they lack the much-needed players from the bench and Klopp does not have a plan B in case things go wrong. And with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane leaving for the African Cup of Nations in January for a month, the side will seriously be lacking attacking threat and individual brilliance without their main duo.

Manchester City and clearly always strong candidates under Guardiola but are currently missing a natural goal-scorer up front, after failing to bring in either of Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane in the summer. Not only that, but with the other teams strengthening significantl, it leaves the Citizens comparatively weaker than last year.

Finally, Manchester United have had a huge summer window but without a settled system in place, they will continue to perform ineffectively and their results will not be consistent. The signs are there as Jadon Sancho is taking time to settle into the Premier League and 19-year-old Mason Greenwood is the one player that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is relying on for the goods to be produced. Also, without the presence of a natural holding midfielder, the Red Devils are unable to mount a serious challenge for titles and trophies.

 


 

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