Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas believes his side is still in contention for the Premier League title after a well earned point at White Hart Lane. Speaking after the 1-1 draw with Tottenham, the Blues boss told reporters that two home wins should see Chelsea right back in the mix. Sounds very much like the words of a man renting a house in Cloud Cuckoo Land. A place where Arsenal are on the verge of European glory, Blackburn Rovers are not in a relegation dogfight and Fernando Torres is a striker worth £50million. I’m not having it. And I’m not sure AVB himself even truly believes it.
Ok, in the real world, it’s 17 games in and Chelsea are 11 points off the pace. We all know these kinds of deficits have been overcome in the past. Everyone will immediately point to Kevin Keegan’s Class of ’96 as a case in point. Following Alex Ferguson’s mind games, Newcastle hit the self destruct button and blew a 12-point lead to gift the title to Manchester United. But surely even the eternal optimist would have to concede that Chelsea are a long long way from knocking on Manchester City’s door (putting to one side of course their recent game at Stamford Bridge)? Yes, there are occasions when a team will severely choke under the pressure but unfortunately for Chelsea, they are relying on the asphyxiation of not only Roberto Mancini’s multi-billion pound-assembled super squad, but also Manchester United, Spurs, and even Arsenal and Liverpool if we’re talking miracles.
AVB’s optimism would be easier to accept were Chelsea sitting in second place. But even if they take six points from their next two home fixtures and City unexpectedly come away from the Hawthorns and the Stadium of Light empty handed, Chelsea would likely find themselves nine points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, with yet another mountain to climb. Not only are you relying on those around you to perform a choke of epic proportions, but you also need to cobble together a string of victories yourself. And we’ve seen from their home games against Liverpool and Arsenal and the recent 1-1 draw at the DW that Chelsea have it well within their own capabilities to spectacularly buckle under the pressure and foul up.
The Chelsea boss’s comments came on the same day that Arsène Wenger conceded that his side could not be considered contenders until they are within six points of Manchester City. Surely with Arsenal a solitary point behind Chelsea, the Gunners boss is approaching the situation a little more realistically? Sod it, who cares? I tell you, if either of them can pip City or United to the championship, I will love it. Love it.