This season, that mentality and attitude has continued, but Chelsea are not, to quote a famous ex manager of theirs, “parking the bus” anymore. This year their play has a swagger and a dominance which befits their status as Champions League winners.
Bar what they will consider as two dropped points at Loftus Road, the Blues have taken maximum points from the rest of their Premier League matches, and come away with the spoils from two demanding yet impressive visits up to North London.
The manner in which the latest victory against former boss Andre Villas-Boas came about was particularly impressive, having come back from 2-1 down to comfortably blow away a Tottenham team who are looking to reach Chelsea’s level, but are missing the craftsmanship which Chelsea have invested in so heavily over the summer
Yes, both Gareth Bale and Moussa Dembele were missing for the home side, and probably would have made life a little less comfortable had they been available. Chelsea would probably still have won the game though, and this highlights the depth in the Blue’s squad as they have players of similar ability waiting on the bench.
Bale would be a miss in any side, but the evolution which is gradually taking place under the progressively more astute stewardship of Roberto Di Matteo is finally looking to make an impact on a scale that Roman Abromovich has been seeking since taking over.
The signings of Eden Hazard and Oscar have worked out as well as could have been imagined, and they have taken next to no time in settling into the Premier league, and Chelsea’s formation. Along with Juan Mata, who has continued and maybe even improved on his form from last season, the three playing instinctively behind the rejuvenated Fernando Torres allows an attacking style of play which rivals the movement and inventiveness of Barcelona at their best.
On Sunday, Chelsea welcome second placed Manchester United to the Bridge, in what should be one of the games of the season. United’s defensive frailty can be exploited by the Blue’s and while United’s attack has looked equally as impressive, Chelsea’s pace, vision and style will cause trouble for a defence which has not looked altogether comfortable down the seasons on the King’s Road, even when at full strength.
The opportunity to open a seven point gap over United will be a mouth watering prospect and although bigger leads have been lost before, the way Chelsea are playing at the moment it will give them a huge psychological advantage over one of their main rivals for the title.
Di Matteo has to take a lot of credit for the way Chelsea have gone about their business. His signings over the summer have looked inspired, and although they have not come cheap, they have already started to repay some of the outlay. He is growing into the role which, even after the Champions League triumph he was not guaranteed to get, but since being confirmed as the boss, he has the players onside and buying into the philosophy he is imparting.
With the ongoing John Terry saga more or less resolved, Di Matteo will be hoping that a more settled atmosphere will descend around the club and people will begin to comment about his side in a more positive light.
If the rumours are to be believed and Radomel Falcao joins in the January transfer window, it will leave Chelsea in an imperious position. They are seamlessly moving from a side which was touted to be aging three seasons ago, to a new dynamic youthful look which with astute additions will promise a bright future for some years to come.
And, with having got the first and the hardest European Cup out of the way, Di Matteo is paving the way for a sustained attack on the major trophies both domestically and internationally. It is possible a dynasty could be born, but having won the Champions League, Chelsea are now also beginning to look and play like they are Champions of Europe.
Do you think Chelsea's unassuming improvement is cause for celebration?
image: © Julian Mason