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    Making case for Chelsea FC: Can they win the Premier League?

    The international break couldn't have come at a worse time for Chelsea FC. It was an October of dreams for the Blues as they cruised through the month without conceding any goals and scoring 16, taking them right at the midst of an intense title battle. The West London club is now sitting at second place behind a high-flying Liverpool. Manchester City are in third while their city rivals are nowhere to be seen at the moment. The pre-season predictions just flew out the window. 

    When the season started there were reasons as to why we couldn't win the league this time under Conte. The Italian did the start the season brightly bagging 9 points from the first 3 matches but with losses against Liverpool and Arsenal it was perceived that their inability to win against the big teams would be detrimental to the cause. 

    But, with the shift to a 3-4-3 the team has gone through a revolutionary change in the past month. As of this moment, Chelsea has the best defensive record with 6 clean sheets. When David Luiz is the main central defender in a back 3 and the team is keeping clean sheets, Conte has to lauded as a genius. 

    There are two reasons as to why I think Chelsea can win the title this season. Here it goes: 

    1. The 3-4-3 system which Antonio Conte has deployed is a double edged sword. One one hand, it has freed Eden Hazard up top in a position he always wanted to play. He along with Pedro and Diego Costa are dictating the game when attacking. With the advanced wing backs in Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso along with a Matic-Kante midfield duo, the opposition is finding it hard to break through. One of the best moves which Conte has done is to limit Luiz to being only and only a central defender. His antics with the ball, and him surging forwards with the ball leaving gaps behind were some of the reasons for which the Brazilian got a lot of stick from the pundits. He is now marshalling the defence and is sticking to his ground at the back and we can see the results. 

    The other advantage is that, the 3-4-3 is a new system for the opponents to decipher. The October results for Chelsea has been the perfect example as to how clueless the opponents have been when facing the reformed Chelsea. In the game against Southampton, who boasts of the best defensive records at home at St. Mary's, Chelsea did not control the game in terms of possession but they scored 2 goals whenever they attacked. This meant that, Southampton with all their defensive heroics did not have an answer to the system. They tried to break down the rugged Chelsea defence but failed to do so thanks to the wings backs preventing the opposition from exploiting the width and the strong David Luiz-led central defence. 

    More so, in the game against Everton, who are a great team and also defeated us last season. They are a team who can cause problems and are really good in possession football. They were obliterated by Chelsea. There was not one department of the game in which Everton can claim they were better than their opponents. Defence looked perfect, the midfield looked dominant and the attack was sharp as a spear. Everton did not have answer for this system which Chelsea were playing so efficiently. 

    This can be a big advantage for Chelsea this season. They don't have Champions League football and they are playing a system which is relatively new to the league. These two factors might work in their favour. 

    2. Winning the league at times can be also attributed to the other teams and mainly rivals losing points. According to me, there are two teams which can genuinely challenge for the title this season. One is Manchester City and the other is Liverpool. 

    Let's talk about Liverpool first. They are on top at the moment and are looking even more ruthless than Chelsea. They are the highest scorers in the league and Jurgen Klopp has indeed turned a corner at Anfield. I always think that there are two sides to a season. There is a phase in the season where a team will score goals for fun and knockout the opponent in the first 60 minutes of the game. But, there also comes a time mainly in the second half of the season where the fatigue sets in and the team has to grind the results out. 

    Like Chelsea in 2014, who started in the same fashion as Liverpool this season. The Blues were ahead of the curve in every sense. But when the season was at its end we saw a string of 1-0 results which ultimately led Chelsea to the title. Similarly, a time will come where Liverpool will also have to grind out results. This is where the experience kicks in, and where I see Liverpool fail. To be honest, this is new territory for Liverpool. Being at the top of the table and actually challenging for the title. They don't have the experience to grind the results and get those 3 points when it matters the most during the end of the season. Whereas Chelsea, they have been in that situation for many a times and have the know-how to grind it out in tough matches. 

    Now on to Manchester City. There are obviously not many points on which you can criticise them. They have the most realistic chance to challenge and even win the league. But with their current blip in the league form, some questions do arise. First and foremost, Kevin De Bruyne has become a talisman for the team. He is the central figure to Pep Guardiola's system. The one game De Bruyne did not play against Tottenham, City lost it. City does not function in the same manner when he is not on the pitch. The smooth transition from defence to attack goes through De Bruyne. Thus, their title challenge hugely depends on how Kevin De Bruyne functions throughout the season. 

    Another reason as why City may lose it is because of the tactical setup. Guardiola relies on possession football and it is quite evident in the way they play. They play with high midfield dominance while the full backs at times act like midfielders. They apply a defensive high line which can be a danger if teams break on the counter against them. 

    Also, City based on their current league form, it can be said that Pep Guardiola is having some difficulty in breaking teams down. Chelsea's defensive system looks much more secured than that of City which is also evident in the number of clean sheets both the teams have this season. 

    With 11 games played, the table is already starting to take shape. The ones who are in the first four are truly title contenders while the ones at the bottom have a real chance of getting relegated. Chelsea have picked their pace at just the right moment. With positivity and a winning mentality surrounding the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, there is absolutely no doubt that Chelsea can win the Premier League this season. Come on you Blues! 
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    Item Reviewed: Making case for Chelsea FC: Can they win the Premier League? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ayushman Basu
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