Around this time in 2015, Chelsea were off to a miserable start in its Premier League campaign. The team drew with Swansea City in Week 1, got crushed 3-0 by Manchester City in Week 2, then beat West Brom and lost to Crystal Palace for a 1-1-2 record heading into September. Stumbling out of the gate would be an understatement for how the club performed after being tabbed by analysts to retain the title.
We all know how that turned out. Chelsea’s shocking inadequacy persisted, the club became mired in poor play and pessimism, and José Mourinho was eventually sacked. Things got a little bit better toward the end of the season, but by that point it was effectively a lost season for the Blues. It was a year that supporters in London would love to wipe from their memories. But luckily for them, the 2016-17 version of the Blues seems to be up to the task of helping them do just that. It’s been a nice start for Chelsea.
The Blues opened the season with a 2-1 victory over West Ham in London, and followed that up with another 2-1 win at Watford. But it was a recent 3-0 drubbing of recently promoted Burnley in the friendly confines of Stamford Bridge that really might have opened some EPL fans’ eyes. Granted, Burnley looks to be a middling squad, but this August 27 match was a clinic by Antonio Conte’s men. In fact, the Blues were so dominant that Burnley boss Sean Dyche was even quoted in a recap of the result as saying his side was “not close to getting a result” and that Chelsea was “far too good.” Complimenting opponents when appropriate is fairly commonplace in the Premier League, but those are unusually defeated comments from a manager a few weeks into a season. Frankly, he almost sounded shell-shocked by the performance Chelsea put on.
But can the Blues keep their hot start going? It’s impossible to say at this stage, but it’s clear that we’ll learn a lot more about where Chelsea stands for 2016/17 as September unfolds.
First up for the Blues this month is a trip to Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea. The Premier League tipsters have Chelsea slated as a strong favourite even though they're on the road, with 1.57 odds to win (to Swansea’s 5.8). That’s a little bit lopsided for an away match, but Swansea do look the part of a bottom-of-the-table team, and Chelsea’s given us no reason to doubt what the outcome should be. After that, however, things get trickier. Chelsea will host Liverpool on the 16th before traveling across town to take on Arsenal on the 24th. The month will then end with a contest at Hull City, with Hull having put together a surprisingly impressive start to the season.
That’s a very difficult month no matter how you look at it, but for fans it provides a thrilling opportunity. We may just find out very early on if this is indeed a rejuvenated Chelsea side capable of vying for a domestic title, or if the hot start is more of a mirage.