Date:Monday March 17 2008
Before the start of the season, it has been predicted that Chelsea would be the main threat to our league crown, with new signings and a fresh hunger in the squad.
They started indifferently and after the sacking of Jose Mourinho back in September they proceeded to lose at Old Trafford and were written off under Avram Grant.
The unexpectedly great form of Arsenal also contributed to Chelsea being forgotten as serious contenders. Avram Grant did not draw attention onto himself and his team the way Mourinho always did so it was difficult not to forget about them, especially given the Israeli's rather dour manners.
A dismal loss at the Emirates had everyone crowing about Grant's managerial abilities (the lack of them, to be precise) but they haven't lost a league game ever since and in terms of points lost they are now level with Arsenal and only three points behind the Champions.
They have a better, deeper squad than Arsenal so in normal circumstances it could be expected that they would last the pace better than Wenger's lads. So can we confirm that now they are our greatest threat?
Well, not yet. Their game in hand is a tad more difficult than ours: Tottenham at White Hart Lane compared to Bolton at Old Trafford. With Arsenal going to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, it will be a huge week for Grant who, finally, has to prove he has what it takes.
Because that's the most frequent criticism aimed at him: he bottles it when the stakes are the highest. They were terrible in the League Cup final against Spurs, a baffling team selection combined with a reluctance to make substitutions that their display was screaming for ended in a shambolic defeat for Chelsea.
They could have made amends at Barnsley in the FA Cup, with the knowledge that they should have the trophy in the bag if they knock out the Championship side as United were out of the Cup. They managed to lose and with a very mediocre performance. So another chance of a trophy lost for Chelsea. And not to mention that on the day of our Manchester City defeat they could have closed the gap but were outplayed at home by Liverpool and could count themselves fortunate to escape with a draw.
In short: whenever there was a great opportunity for Chelsea to take a big step forward in the season, Grant bottled it. You could say that Chelsea have a great squad and a so far seemingly mediocre manager, Arsenal have a thin squad and a great manager while United have a fantastic squad and a great manager. It's only us who have the whole package - we should not bottle it now. And it doesn't really matter whom we consider to be the main threat.
Date:Monday March 17 2008
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