So, you guys are really just gonna let this happen, huh? Just sit idly by, dropping points all willy nilly, while Mourinho's men sashay to the title without breaking a sweat? And the only club trying to put up a fight is Southampton?
Alas, such is the situation in the Premier League this season, where not even halfway into the season, we have an overwhelming favorite to win the whole thing. Which isn't exactly a surprise. We, along with everyone in their right mind, picked the Blues to win the title before the season began, as even on paper, Chelsea looked likely to breeze through the league. To what was already a fortress-like defense complemented by some of the most creative attackers in the world, the Londoners went ahead and added a couple defensive reinforcements along with two world-class attackers: striker Diego Costa and midfielder Cesc Fàbregas.
Both La Liga transplants have taken to the league like Mario Balotelli takes to nightclubs: easily, and with much relish. In just 11 matches, Costa and Fàbregas have already proven themselves two of the best players in the league at their respective positions.
Costa's power, athleticism, and ferocious finishing adds the only weapon missing from last season's near-champion squad: an in-form goalscorer. Costa tears after long balls that old man Samuel Eto'o couldn't get to like a 28 Days Later zombie on the scent of fresh flesh. He confidently smacks home Eden Hazard cutbacks across the front of goal that Fernando Torres would contrive a way to boot over the crossbar. Not only is he scoring the goals (his 10 strikes are good for second in the Prem), he's perfect at the little things—the hold up play, the running of the channels, etc.—that facilitate Chelsea's style of play.
Cesc, too, has integrated seamlessly into his new club. He's been the most influential player in England, leading the league in assists, racking up the second-most passes per game, and averaging the fourth-most key passes. Alongside a prototypical destroyer like Nemanja Matić and the industrious Oscar, Fàbregas is free to follow attacks wherever they take him, without worrying too much about his still-iffy defensive positioning. It's the perfect system to feature the talents of the most creative passing player in the sport.
This weekend was a great example of how much of a juggernaut Chelsea are and how much no one wants it with them. The premier match of the weekend saw the Blues take on the Reds of Liverpool, a rematch of that fateful slip-up last season that ultimately killed Liverpool's miraculous title charge. Chelsea stepped out on the pitch at Anfield as the invincible-seeming team they'd been all season while Liverpool were reeling, trying to find some semblance of cohesion with this new, under-talented side of theirs.
The Reds had already run out a weak squad against Real Madrid in the Champions League a few days earlier, in a move ostensibly meant to rest up for the weekend's clash, but that really looked like an attempt to avoid another humiliating full-strength beatdown like the one they faced earlier in group stage play at the hands of the Spanish club. A deceptively narrow loss in Madrid was enough for a moral victory in many circles, and frankly, a similarly impressive-looking though unsuccessful fight against Chelsea would've gone over similarly.
Lo and behold, Liverpool eked out a 1-2 home defeat. It wasn't a bad enough shellacking to turn up the heat on the struggling northerners, and was technically close enough that the losing manager, Brendan Rodgers, could complain about a handful of refereeing decisions tilting the outcome of the match with a more or less straight face. Nonetheless, there was never any doubt about which team was stronger. At last season's runners-up's home field, Chelsea walked in, snatched up the three points without much resistance, and left the home team actually feeling pretty good about not getting crushed. Chelsea's obvious dominance has that kind of power.
The results around the league that followed only served to clear off even more clutter and debris from the Blues' path to the domestic trophy. The only side that appeared in position to give them any kind of run for for their money, Manchester City, drew away to relegation candidate QPR to expand the points gap between Chelsea and their chief title rivals. City have suffered a prolonged slump as of late, winning only one of their last six matches in all competitions. Without the heroics of their superstar striker, Sergio Agüero, with his four goals and one assist in that span, the gimpy Citizens would find themselves in an even more precarious position than they currently do.
Despite human tornado Alexis Sánchez hitting the form of his life recently, meanwhile, Arsenal are still finding ways to lose games from winning positions. After taking the lead on Swansea late in their match yesterday, the Gunners decided to ease off and rely on their defensive expertise to see the game out. This predictably led to two Swansea goals and an L. Of all the favorites to push for the Champions League places, only Manchester United managed a win this weekend. Good for them and all, but the Red Devils are closer to dropping out of the top half of the table than they are to nipping at Chelsea's heels.
As it stands, the Blues enjoy an eight-point gap on City and are a whopping 12 points clear of the next-closest challengers, Arsenal. We'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention those miracle workers over at Southampton, who somehow are only four points behind the leaders in second place, but there's just no way they can keep up this pace; six of the Saints' next nine league matches are against teams that hope to finish in the European places. We'll know a lot more about Southampton's own European dreams after New Year's Day, but it's a pretty good bet they won't be near Chelsea by then.
The upshot is this: After years of some of the closest title races in England's history, Chelsea, barring an unfathomable collapse, have the title before we're halfway done with November. The club has bought almost unreasonably well, furnishing maybe the best manager in the world with an outlandishly deep and talented roster that allows him to do whatever he wants, and so that's that. But hey, those other teams still have spots two through four to fight for. That's...not nothing.
Photos via Getty