Prior to the start of this campaign, Chelsea went into the new season as firm favorites for the title across all the bookmakers. Within one weekend that changed. Chelsea’s slip-up at home to Swansea followed by a comfortable disposal of West Brom by Manchester City meant going into the game at The Etihad, it was the home side who had edged ahead as the bookies’ favorites for the crown. The comfortable nature of victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s men will do nothing to swing that balance back toward the holders. The outcome from The Etihad will see City installed as shorter odds favorites than they were prior to kick-off – but who are the real favorites? Can that much have changed within two weeks? That will be a big talking point coming out of this weekend. What’s changed between now and two weeks ago before the first round of fixture? Chelsea are five points behind City and Manchester United, two behind Arsenal – but that isn’t the main concern. What’s changed the balance and the perception of the title race has been the impressive nature of City’s opening displays: six goals in two games, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure back to their best – it’s been the perfect start for Pellegrini and his charge. But it is only a start.
The biggest strength of Chelsea last season and supposedly going into this term was their strength at the back in comparison to their rivals. Last season, Mourinho’s side were formidable at the back and the personnel hasn’t changed dramatically this time around – but something isn’t quite right. In the first half at The Etihad, Chelsea were all over the place at the back and were lucky to go in at the break just the one goal behind. Conceding from a set-piece is not something we’ve come to expect from a Mourinho side and the third goal was a case of switching off. Last week, Chelsea looked off the pace but at The Etihad, they simply weren’t defending like a unit as they had done throughout last season. It was John Terry who seemed to take the flack, removed by Mourinho for Kurt Zouma, and that will be a major talking point of its own. Though it isn’t a crisis, Chelsea will be looking to return to their defensive solidity as soon as possible. Going further this display may only add intensify the interest in John Stones.
Two weeks in and this much is clear already: it’s going to be an incredibly tight and exciting season across the Premier League. Already we’ve had shocks. West Ham beating Arsenal in the opening weekend against all odds has taken the headlines, and rightfully so. But the performances of Leicester, who are expected to be part of the relegation battle, and this display by Chelsea, previously favorites for the title, show nothing is straightforward when it comes to the Premier League. Obviously two weeks in there are no conclusions to be drawn, but there is excitement. The performance of Man City will now take the headlines. Firstly at the Hawthorns and on Sunday at the Etihad, they created plenty to suggest they are a real force to be reckoned with again. Likewise, few would have predicted this start for Chelsea.
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