Chelsea recorded a third consecutive victory in dogged fashion when they beat Leicester 2-1 at the King Power on Saturday and talk of a crisis is now laughable. The Blues were unlucky to lose to Burnley on the opening day of the season as they finished the game with nine men and battled bravely to bring it back to 3-2. Since then they have beaten three top sides in Tottenham, Everton and Leicester, displaying title-winning form once again. But still the bookmakers persist in underrating the Blues and you can get fantastic odds on them winning the league this season.
Only two managers have ever won the Premiership twice in a row, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, so it would take a spectacular effort for Antonio Conte to join that elite club. But Chelsea are in superb form: no other team this season has beaten three sides of the calibre of Tottenham, last season’s runners-up; Leicester, champions the season before that; and Everton, a hugely ambitious side that spent a fortune in the summer.
New signing Alvaro Morata looks to be money well spent thanks to his astute movement, intelligent linkup play, deadly finishing and impressive diligence. If he carries on like this Diego Costa will not be missed in the slightest, while Tiemoue Bakayoko could well be an upgrade on the fading Nemanja Matic. And Benjamin Mendy looks a terrific full-back, full of pace and power and tremendous crossing ability. Yes, the Blues missed out on several key transfer targets, but they have strengthened the squad with £182 million worth of talent and have plenty of options.
Yet the Manchester clubs are still the huge favourites to win the title. Man City are 5/4 and Man Utd are 5/2, while you can get a huge 5/1 on Chelsea, who are now just one point below City and Utd. At that price Chelsea look fantastic value, so it could be prudent to find a bookmaker like William Hill, which has earned positive reviews for its trustworthiness and competitive odds, and back the Blues to win the league.
There are certainly challenges to overcome, most notably strength in depth. The Blues will be a lot more stretched this season due to their Champions League commitments, and this could be causing the bookies to offer such generous odds on Chelsea. They look to be well-covered in defence, but in wide areas they are a bit thin on the ground and injuries to wing-backs could prove costly.
However, their rivals are far from infallible. City have spent a fortune and have an outrageous wealth of attacking talent, but huge question marks remain over their defence. Vincent Kompany’s injury record is dreadful and John Stones has been error prone, while Nicolas Otamendi is often derided. Ederson has started well between the sticks but the jury is still out on the youngster. Meanwhile Man Utd faltered in their first real challenge of the season, drawing away at Stoke. Phil Jones is unconvincing in defence, while they draw too many games and lack a bit of creative spark.
Both are strong teams, but Chelsea can go toe-to-toe with both and finished well ahead of City and Utd last season. In N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois they have some of the great and most established stars in the league, and they are currently firing on all cylinders. A real acid test will be the Arsenal game next weekend. They will have to recover from midweek Champions League exploits and take on a team that beat them to the FA Cup and Community Shield. If they can take three points from the game Chelsea will be well and truly back in business. But the odds would then plummet so it might be worth backing them sooner rather than later.