The first week of the Barclays Premier League could hardly have gone any better for Chelsea fans.

First, our bitter rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham, dropped points in their fixtures against Liverpool and Everton respectively.

Next, all eyes turned to Stamford Bridge to see which side turned up against West Ham United: the Chelsea that won the league at a canter two seasons ago, or the shambolic, overweight, overpaid bunch of whinging brats that got current Manchester United boss José Mourinho sacked in December.

The fact that it took a late winner from Diego Costa to seal the points is unlikely to bother too many of us. After all, we’re so used to winning ugly that it’s almost become a point of pride.

However, before we get ahead of ourselves, we’d do well to remember that it’s not just the Manchester clubs standing in our way this season. Another one of our rivals is stealthily – albeit silently – creeping up on them.

22641214612_f4b19963ff_o
Chelsea and Liverpool in action at Stamford Bridge last season. Sourced from @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London

Although we’re usually quick to stress the differences between ourselves and Liverpool, this season, the similarities are striking.

Like us, they’ve made some big signings in the summer. Sadio Mané absolutely obliterated the Arsenal defence on his debut, and I wouldn’t bet against him doing that to several more teams this season – along with fellow new boy Georginio Wijnaldum, striker Daniel Sturridge (when fit), and destroyer-in-chief Philippe Coutinho.

Like us, they have the advantage of no European games to distract and tire them as they fight to regain their status as one of the most feared sides in English football.

Like us, they have a world class manager at the helm – only, they’ve had more time to get used to theirs.

Liverpool were better than us last season (it was hard not to be), and eclipsed us once more in the first round of this season’s Premier League.

Their fans have been ridiculed for telling us all for the 27th time in a row that this is “their year”, but this time, they may have a point.

Few fans have questioned my argument that the Manchester clubs have an edge over everybody else this season in terms of quality. However, most seem to think that Chelsea are their biggest threat.

As much as I hope I’m proven wrong, I suspect the sternest challenge to Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will come from their half of the country this season.

And if Jürgen Klopp is the manager who runs the Manchester clubs closest, it certainly doesn’t look as if they’ll be able to complain about 19th century football.

Advertisements