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Joe Strange - Hand Chelsea the title now

Published: 20 Sep 2010 - 11:32:17

While the fight for Champions League places and the battle against relegation are well and truly underway, the same cannot be said of the race for the Premier League title.

Not because we're only five games into the season, but because Chelsea have already gone and won it.

Admittedly it's still mathematically possible for the Blues to be overhauled by title pretenders Manchester United and Arsenal, but you have to wonder whether Fergie or Wenger believe it to be possible after what we've witnessed so far.

The Gunners look their frail selves, throwing away points and picking up injuries as only they know how. Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie, two players more accustomed to the treatment table than the football pitch, could've been the difference between one point and all three at the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening.

Unfortunately for them and the hoards of travelling Gooners, Arsenal produced some comical defending deep into injury time to hand Darren Bent the sort of chance he eats for breakfast.

It's often said that the best teams, those that'll be challenging towards the upper echelons of the table come May, win games when not playing at their best. Arsenal haven't been that sort of side since before Wenger arrived at Highbury in the mid-nineties, and that looks likely to be the defining reason why they'll finish no better than second yet again.

United on the other hand, do know how to win when not as their best. It's a priceless attribute that Sir Alex Ferguson has instilled in his sides during more than twenty years in charge. It's the reason they’ve been so successful and also why they will pose the biggest threat to Carlo Ancelotti's men yet again.

But it's a slightly less desirable characteristic which looks like being United's downfall this season.We've already seen it rear its ugly head at Craven Cottage and Goodison Park, and it even threatened to make an appearance at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.

However you describe it - a leaky defence, a lack of concentration or a failure to kill off games - the Red Devils have given up winning positions three of their five games, with two occasions costing them a total of four points.

They were forced to rely on the brilliance of Dimitar Berbatov against Liverpool yesterday after seeing their comfortable 2-0 lead disappear in an instant. This United look like conceding and that's never a good thing when you're looking to come top of the most competitive league in years.

Champions in-waiting Chelsea don't look like conceding. In fact, they've only let in one goal in five games. They don't suffer lapses in concentration and they always score enough to make sure they're safe heading into the dying minutes.

They create chance after chance and don't need to rely on just a couple of players to score their goals. They rarely pick up injuries and when they do they have the strength-in-depth to deal with it.

Whatever problems, failings and issues that United and Arsenal have, Chelsea don't.

Their next three fixtures are pivotal - Man City away, Arsenal at home and Aston Villa away. But if they get through those in the same style as they've started the season then Premier League might as well drop off the trophy at Stamford Bridge.

Because that's where it looks certain to end up.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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