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Can Jose Mourinho inspire Chelsea to the title?

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This season's Premier League is set to go down in history as the most exciting ever.

Not only do we have a good old fashioned relegation scrap that looks like involving 11 teams, but the top seven are all still in with a shout of winning the title, being separated by just 11 points.

GMS contributor Brad Peterson has decided to assess the chances of all seven teams who realistically could still lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

This article looks at what Chelsea need to do if they want to be carved on to the trophy as Premier League Champions 2014.

Last summer, Jose Mourinho returned. Since leaving in September 2007, Mourinho ended a highly successful spell with Inter Milan with an unprecedented treble, before battling arguably the greatest club side in history as manager of Real Madrid; a period that cannot be discounted as anything less than a success.

At the expense of the fury of Chelsea fans, you couldn't categorically state he has been greatly missed results wise, with the Premier League title, FA Cup, the Europa League and, most remarkably, the elusive Champions League trophy all lifted since the Portuguese's exit.

Yet it was inevitable that this special bond between club and manager would be reunited at some stage, and the summer saw Mourinho return to his spiritual home to great excitement.

Having lost ground in recent years to both Manchester clubs, the Mourinho factor, along with managerial changes at those clubs, swung the pendulum ever so slightly in Chelsea's favour as they were seen as joint favourites alongside City.

Strengths

Aside from perhaps their joint favourites, Chelsea have arguably the strongest team on paper, with terrific strength in depth in all areas of the pitch. Their strike force may have been much criticised but on his day Fernando Torres can still be a handful.

Yet any striker who is backed up by the world class attacking talent Chelsea boast in midfield will be gifted chances, with the Chelsea product's unique selling point certainly the three in their 4-2-3-1 formation.

Eden Hazard is slowly proving why he was earlier suggested as being a rival to Lionel Messi, whilst Oscar has flourished following a successful first season in England. Willian and Andre Schurrle have both settled well in England too, and thus it speaks volumes to the strength in depth that Chelsea's Player of the Year for the last two seasons, the mercurial Juan Mata, is often relegated to the substitutes bench. Whilst many a Premier League observer will argue for his inclusion, one can simply state 'trust in Mourinho'.

Yet unlike some squads who may overly rely on their attacking options to make up for their defensive frailties, Chelsea can boast some of the best defenders in the league. Any rumours of John Terry's age catching up with him have been dispelled with a series of heroic performances at the heart of defence alongside an improving and reliable Gary Cahill and the fan favourite David Luiz.

On the flanks, Ashley Cole still possesses the qualities that have seen him stake a claim of the best full back of the last decade, while Branislav Ivanovic has become a vital rock at the back, with Cesar Azpilicueta providing an terrific alternative option.

With Petr Cech as solid as ever in the last line of defence, facing the Chelsea team is a daunting task. And to think, I haven't even mentioned their all time top goalscorer, the evergreen Frank Lampard, or his midfield partner Ramirez. Solid.

It is all too easy to say that great individuals will create a great team, yet they certainly have the credentials to do so. Mourinho's teams have largely been built on a solid, well organised defence, before hitting teams on the counter with blistering attacks.

The players they possess can tick the boxes for both of these important factors, and thus it is scary that Chelsea are still in such contention at this stage of the season despite it being argued that they still haven't yet reached their top gear regularly enough thus far.

Furthermore, the Mourinho factor, much like the empowering Sir Alex Ferguson over the last two decades, is guaranteed to equate to a few extra points over the course of a season.

If they can find that next gear that will make them click and allow them to perform to their highest level more regularly, then only a fool old rule them out of their battle for the title going right down to the wire.

How to win the title

Much like their London rivals in the north, a striker is surely at the top of Chelsea's shopping list. Fernando Torres, as much as I maintain personally that he can still be a success and is under served of the amount of criticism he has received, is not the player he was during his Liverpool days.

Whilst he is still capable of producing the goods on occasion, Chelsea's title pursuit would be far stronger were they to boast a top class striker who possesses far greater consistency and confidence to score regularly.

Demba Ba is seemingly not fancied as being good enough to perform at this level, despite good spells at both West Ham and Newcastle, whilst the best days are certainly behind Samuel Eto'o who, despite scoring a hat-trick in yesterday's game, is no longer the player he once was.

For all the creative talent the striker has behind him, you cannot help but think that a genuine fox in the box could break records with the amount of chances he could get. A Ruud van Nistelrooy-esque poacher would surely fire them to the title.

The biggest question marks around this are just who Chelsea will bring in, with the biggest stars surely unlikely to want to make a move in World Cup year through fear of it not working out, whilst they will face a battle with Arsenal, amongst others, for any targets that do become available.

Mourinho's reluctance to play Ba suggests he is not interested in a stop-gap striker as simply another option: he will either go hard or go home, so perhaps a big money move for the likes of Radamel Falcao is not as outrageous as may first be suggested.

That said, it cannot simply be expected that a world class striker will waltz through the doors at Stamford Bridge, but it will certainly be interesting to see who they go for as, despite Mourinho's denials, this is definitely their priority.

The other key area that Mourinho will be working on to ensure they are still in the hunt come May is in defence. This is not a case of needing to buy players – Chelsea already boast a top class back line – but tactically they need to improve ever so slightly.

Mourinho will be well aware of this, having gained a reputation for grinding out wins courtesy of a stubborn back five that rarely get broken. Yet at times, albeit less so as the season has progressed, Chelsea have been sloppy – particularly from set pieces it seems – and thus provides the opposition with greater belief that they can nick a goal.

The fact that they are still so involved in the title race shows that it is hardly a terrible situation – perhaps one hardly worth my mentioning that may come across as harsh, given that they boast the joint tightest defence in the league, yet they could have already set themselves at the top of the league as the ones to beat had they shored up their defence better this season.

They have the players to do so, and the manager to tactically arrange this, so you would expect it as simply a matter of time before they do click, which it already appears may be happening. Now if they can just get that striker, the Premier League title could well be travelling back down the M6 and M1 to west London.

Prediction: Third – it will be a straight out race between them and Arsenal for second, with neither able to keep up with Manchester City. If however, they manage to sign a top class striker in January, this could be completely different.

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Topics:
Premier League
England Football
Chelsea
Football

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DISCLAIMER

This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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