Date: 2nd February 2009 at 10:59am
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The situation is eerily similar to last season’s. The early season’s surprise package is starting to feel the heat, dropping points here and there with frustrating little 1-1 draws. Meanwhile, the real powerhouses Chelsea are unimpressive, lurking in the shadows (and just like this season they were unable to win any big game) – therefore the generel consensus is that United are the overwhelming favourites.

And of course last season Chelsea took it down to the wire, proving it was a mistake to write them off so quickly. Can the same happen this season? I’d say it could – but it’s not likely.

Because, despite all the similarities, the situation is rather different. When Arsenal started to fall apart Chelsea were still due to play both their title rivals at home. They won both game 2-1, proving that Uncle Avram could master the art of winning the biggest clashes and those two wins were the bedrock of their surge.

This time they are five points off the pace having played a game more – and they’ve already lost twice to Liverpool and picked up one measly, barely deserved point against United before getting resoundingly thrashed at Old Trafford. So they have to rely on United dropping an awful lot of points while they collect almost maximum.

It is still possible with Essien due to return soon and I would have been very displeased had Chelsea won the game yesterday because in that case they could have posed a very real threat. But they produced damning evidence of themselves: they simply fell apart, offering nothing at all – indeed, only Alex and Terry looked bothered to fight for the cause. Which does not bode well for the lesser games…

A Chelsea title challenge is still a possibility – but a dramatic turnaround is required. I regarded them as the main threat to our Premiership crown but for the first time this season I’m not sure that this assessment was correct.