As we approach the end of January, 22 rounds of Premier League games have been played. With just 16 more to go, Chelsea are standing head and shoulders over everyone else.
The Blues produced another solid display last Sunday to defeat Hull 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, picking up their 15th victory from their last 16 league matches. They now have an eight-point lead over Arsenal, with the second-placed side being the only other team from the top six to win at the weekend.
It was Chelsea’s 18th victory of the season and their 13th clean sheet, with Diego Costa netting his 15th goal of the campaign. They have failed to score in just two league matches all season and have only dropped points once in games against teams outside the top four.
Champions Leicester City had 44 points at this stage last season, Chelsea already have 55. It is three points more than they had at the same time during the 2014/15 season, when they last won the title, and their goal difference is the best in the division.
Their form in this campaign is in complete contrast to last season, when they sat 14th and only four points outside the relegation zone after 22 games.
Despite Chelsea being clear at the top, they have lost three times against other teams in the top four. However, they maintain their position thanks to everyone else lacking consistency and dropping points far too often.
- Arsenal – lost twice and drawn one of their last seven games
- Tottenham – lucky to pick up a draw at Manchester City this past weekend
- Liverpool – on a run of three games without a win, lost 3-2 at home to struggling Swansea
- Manchester City – only won once in their last four
- Manchester United – drawn their last two
None of those teams are putting Antonio Conte’s side under enough pressure. They are basically having everything their own way and building what could be an unassailable lead. Their points advantage over second is eight points and increases to fourteen ahead of sixth-placed United.
It is a vitally important couple of weeks in the title race coming up. Chelsea face a trip to Liverpool next before a home clash with Arsenal a few days later. Victories in those games would help them build an even bigger lead over two of their nearest rivals.
As well as a widening points advantage, Chelsea won’t get distracted by involvement in European competition. Four of the top six are still in Europe, which will take a toll on their title chances.
Anything can happen between now and the end of the season, but the title race could already be over. If Chelsea maintain their form, they will be unstoppable.
It’s looking increasingly likely that the Pensioners will be crowned Premier League champions for a fifth time.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena