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The nightmare season at Stamford Bridge is far from over, but it seems that Chelsea is finally rounding into form after a very rocky start to the 2015 campaign. After winning the Premier League last season, Jose Mourinho’s men started the season with just 11 points through 12 games, the worst start of any defending Premier League champions in history.
The Blues also put themselves at serious risk of not advancing to the knockout stages of the Champions’ League, as an away loss against FC Porto and an away draw against Dynamo Kyiv left them in danger of losing their place in Europe’s premier soccer competition. However, after a rocky start, it seems the defending Premier League champions have put their struggles behind them.
It all started with a 1-0 win over Norwich City last weekend. While the scoreline may not completely represent it, this Chelsea win was eerily reminiscent of last season’s title campaign. In the 64th minute, controversial striker Diego Costa slotted the ball into the back of Norwich goal, and the game was over from there.
Not only did Costa score his first goal in seven games for Chelsea, something fans of the west London club will certainly celebrate, but the defensive prowess of the Chelsea midfield and back line completely secured the squad’s slim lead, resurrecting the play style that won the Blues the title last season.
New signing Kenedy was extremely impressive in the victory against Norwich, pairing well with the aging Nemanja Matic and helping to protect possession in the midfield, something Chelsea has struggled with all season. If the Matic-Kenedy pairing can continue to produce league results like they did against Norwich, Chelsea may have an outside shot at a European spot, despite their rough start.
While the Norwich victory was certainly impressive, it paled in comparison to the absolute thrashing Chelsea gave Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Chelsea was certainly favored in the game following their dismantling of the Israeli side at Stamford Bridge, but beating Tel Aviv 4-0 was certainly not the expected result from Mourinho’s side.
Starring in the Tel Aviv game was Eden Hazard, last year’s Player of the Year in the Premier League and arguably the most important player in the Chelsea locker room. While Hazard has struggled this season in the league, against Tel Aviv he looked like his old self. He was darting up and down the wing, occasionally using a crafty dribble move to cut in on the Tel Aviv defenders.
His talent was fully on display in Israel, as the Tel Aviv defenders looked completely overmatched as they attempted to contain the Belgian international. If Hazard can regain even a semblance of the form he showed last season, Chelsea could make some noise in the Premier League.
In addition to Hazard’s play, Willian also showed his incredible talent against Tel Aviv. Willian has decidedly been Chelsea’s best player in 2015, and his free kick ability has kept the Blues in games they definitively should have been out of. With Willian and Hazard on the wings, Chelsea certainly has firepower to be reckoned with.
While two consecutive wins is hardly enough to turn around a season, the manner in which Chelsea secured those two wins demonstrates a return to the form and play style they demonstrated last season. A Champions’ League spot seems like a pipe dream and a Premier League title seems downright impossible, but with the talent on Chelsea, nothing is out of the question.
Fans all over the world will wait anxiously, hoping that the nightmare start for Chelsea can finally be put to bed.