10 games into this Premier League season and Maurizio Sarri is still unbeaten as Chelsea manager. No one else has done that. Not Ancelotti, not Conte, certainly not Scolari, certainly not Villas-Boas, not even Mourinho managed that as Chelsea manager in either of his spells in charge. And this early season run of form has many pundits and fans wondering, can Chelsea mount a serious challenge for the Premier League this season?
If you had asked me at the start of the season what I would have considered to be a successful first season for Maurizio Sarri, I would have said a top four finish to get us back into the Champions League, a decent FA Cup run and to go far in the Europa League, perhaps even win it. And if you ask me now, that would still be a successful season in my opinion. Manchester City are playing some absolutely brilliant football at the moment and will go on to win the league again in May. Liverpool as well look to have ironed out the kinks in their side, particularly in defence. That said, if Chelsea continue to play the way they did against Burnley on Sunday, they will go far this season.
What’s been particularly pleasing to see is the real development of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. In recent weeks especially, they have both proven to the manager that they should be right up there challenging for a place in the first team lineup. Between Loftus-Cheek’s 4 goals in the last two games and Ross Barkley’s 3 goals and 3 assists in the last 3 Premier League games as well as their willingness to take on board what Sarri wants from them in that midfield role. However, despite the good performance of Alvaro Morata last Sunday and the brilliant link-up play that Olivier Giroud provides, they are not scoring enough goals in the league. Giroud hasn’t scored at all this season, and that is one area that really needs addressing in January. A potent goalscorer who could hit the ground running, could turn this team into real contenders.
Ultimately, I don’t think Chelsea will challenge too strongly for the Premier League, and if they will win a trophy, it will be in one of the three other competitions they are playing in this season. But, from what I’ve seen so far this season and from I hope to see tonight against Derby, we aren’t far off.