Give Arsene Wenger some credit—he’s not as naive as some might suggest.
When discussing Chelsea‘s form this season after watching his own team succumb to another loss, this time 2-1 againstSwansea City,the much-maligned Arsenal boss was a defeated man.”There doesn’t look to be anybody capable to challenge them at the moment,” he told the gathered press, per The Guardian.
Judging by their current form, Chelsea are en route to hitting the 100-point mark according to Wenger and with his team lacking “the right rigorous attitude,” he isn’t expecting them to put up much of a challenge between now and the end of the campaign.
Arsenal are 12 points off the relentless pace Chelsea have set this season, while Liverpool trail by a further three having themselves succumbed 2-1 to Jose Mourinho‘s side on Saturday.
All this and it’s only mid-November.
Ahead of the last international break, Chelsea’s lead at the top was five points and while Southampton have narrowed that to four in the four games since, their lead over City, Liverpool and Arsenal has only increased now we enter the final international window of 2014.
By that reckoning, when the next round of international games comes around in March, Chelsea should be well out of sight.
In fact, they already are.
Ronald Koeman‘s Saints are enjoying a remarkable season, it must be said. But how long will they continue to challenge at the top?
Even when Koeman appears on TV for his post-match interviews, his wide-eyed expression suggest even he doesn‘t expect it to be much longer.
Without taking anything away from what they have achieved, Mourinhoand his players need to look at the clubs around them with a proven pedigree of at least challenging for major honours—teams who have finished in the top four.
The table suggests otherwise, but their title rivals are City, Arsenal, Liverpool and, to a lesser degree, Manchester United.
Where those teams are concerned, Chelsea have won the psychological battle already.
All around them opponents are running scared of what they can achieve and rather than looking at their own strengths, are highlighting Chelsea’s as the reason for their own failures.
It’s been suspected, only now Wenger‘s post-Swansea comments confirm it.
The Frenchman chose his words carefully, not openly saying the title race was over, but suggesting nobody can compete with Chelsea right now is all the confirmation we needed.
If a manager is telling us a team that has spent in excess of £75 million this summer—not to mention splashing £42 million a year earlier onMesut Ozil—cannot match them, what hope is there for the rest?
Indeed, what hope is there for Wenger‘s players?
That Chelsea are so far ahead of the chasing pack already says so much about Mourinho as a coach. He spent a year rebuilding Chelsea after his return and now they are a phenomenal team—one capable of beating opponents by playing pretty or by applying the dark arts.
They haven’t won anything yet, although right now we’re looking at a team that has the potential to go on to be recognised as one of the greatest English football has seen—and not just in the Premier League era.
This Chelsea team aren’t going to be losing many matches this season and for that alone, the points difference is already daunting.
Chelsea must drop at least nine points for Manchester City to defend their title, while Arsenal and Liverpool live in hope they implode to allow them back in with a shout.
It’s incredibly unlikely.
The flip side of the situation is the failure of those other clubs to put up a bigger fight. In fact, it’s a damning indictment of the managers leading them.
City are the reigning champions and like Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini is in his second year in charge.
The Chilean’s team should be stronger, should be more ruthless and ready to remind us all of why they finished top of the pile last season.
nstead, it’s the opposite. They appear weak and unable to cope with the psychological impact of what they achieved last May. Even in the Champions League they continue to fail.
Liverpool haven’t been helped by the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, but Brendan Rodgers has invested the money from the Uruguayan’s sale poorly.
Targeting quantity over quality when recruiting in the summer, Liverpool will count themselves fortunate to qualify for the Champions League next season if their shoddy form continues for much longer.
With a developing team last term, Mourinho came close to winning a third Premier League crown. A year on, with his players and his system in place, everyone else pales into insignificance.
Where is the challenge going to come from?
Nowhere, if we listen to Wenger.
There are six-and-a-half months remaining before the climax of 2014/15; 27 games and 2,430 minutes for each team still to play. They may as well pack up and go home now.