The English Premier League season is in its infant stages, but it is never too early to make predictions. The 2012 Champions League winner, Chelsea FC, sits atop the league table at 13 points, just one ahead of Manchester United. West Brom and Everton round out the third and fourth places, respectively; however, no one expects them to remain in those positions for too much longer. With a disappointing two points, Liverpool is making the Anfield faithful nervous, as first-year manager Brendan Rodgers tries to right the ship.
There are many fixtures yet ahead before the league is decided, but certain clubs will continue to perform at a higher level than the rest. The top four sides from the EPL qualify for the following season’s Champions League. This year’s quest for the top four could be more wide open than any in recent memory. The two Manchester clubs will no doubt compete for the league, let alone top four, but they should be wary of the Stamford Bridge side in London SW6. Chelsea is already on top of the league and boasts one of the deepest midfields in Europe. Chelsea has even strengthened their back four this past summer transfer window by adding Cesar Azpilicueta (and Gary Cahill this past winter). Attack-minded players such as Victor Moses, Oscar and Eden Hazard were also added this summer, providing even more squad depth.
The topic that seems to never quite go away is that of the Spanish national team striker, Fernando Torres. Once one of the most feared forwards in the world, Torres has had trouble finding the net and misfired ever since his $80 million, highly publicized transfer from Liverpool in the winter of 2011. After five games, the Spanish striker has tallied two goals and, at times, looked frustrated with his performance. Those to come to Torres’ defense typically cite his ability to create opportunities for his teammates, but Roman Abromovich, the club’s owner, did not break the bank for creative passes from his number nine.
The main argument for Chelsea to finish atop the EPL this season is their depth at midfield. From the ever-reliable Frank Lampard to the newly acquired wonder-kids Eden Hazard and Oscar, the Blues look to be strong with their attacking options. One area of concern for the club will be the health of all-world goalkeeper Petr Cech. It was recently reported that he will need to undergo surgery on his elbow, and hopefully it will not become a problem throughout the long campaigns of the EPL, FIFA Club World Cup and Champions League.
To solidify their title hopes, Chelsea will need to make another splash in the transfer market this winter. After recently not being selected in the starting 11 by manager José Mourinho at Real Madrid, many speculate that Sergio Ramos may be available. The defender would be a welcomed addition to the Blues back four. Everton may be forced to sell midfielder Marouane Fellaini, and Chelsea has been rumored to be in the market for his services. The main transfer target for the CFC will be at center forward. Radamel Falcao, of Atlético Madrid, is currently the best striker in Europe. His goal scoring ability is something that could make Chelsea feared all throughout Europe. He even showed the London club his abilities first-hand in his hat trick performance against the club in the Super Cup earlier this month.
That being said, if Chelsea can continue to play stout defense and attack well up front, they are going to be a force in the EPL. The media continues to play up the Manchester clubs as the two teams to watch this year, but Chelsea should not be overlooked. Although, from the standpoint of Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea’s manager, that lack of recognition should do just fine. When team captain John Terry hoists the Premier League trophy at Stamford Bridge in May, Chelsea will receive all the accolades they deserve.