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Premier League top four: Are Chelsea serious contenders and who is the main danger?

Frank Lampard Celebrates V Ajax


Premier League top four: Are Chelsea serious contenders and who is the main danger?

Frank Lampard suffered a stuttering start to life as Chelsea manager. The Blues stumbled out of the blocks this season and a less than convincing opening few weeks to the campaign saw the Londoners suffer a similar fate to the likes of Man Utd and Tottenham who stuck out in midtable.

Some fans feared the worst and with Lampard forced into working under the restrictions of a transfer ban, severely limiting his options, it looked like Chelsea could spend much of the season stuck in the no man’s land of midtable.

Blues have been impressive on their travels

The gaffer put his faith in the youth system in place at Stamford Bridge – not that he had much of a choice – choosing to bring through academy players and placing his trust in emerging talent. Over the course of the summer, Chelsea moved from a club famous for big money transfers, splashing millions on the players or Europe’s biggest clubs, to one nurturing home grown talent. And boy has it had the desired effect so far.

Chelsea turned around their fortunes during the autumn, climbing through the ranks of the Premier League on the back of a winning run. The Blues did as was expected of them at home, but they have been equally impressive on the road, taking points from Watford, Burnley and Southampton in recent weeks. Winning at home is vitally important for teams aiming for a top half finish but getting the job done on their travels is often the difference between playing Europa League or Champions League football next term. 

Qualifying for the latter would result in Lampard being handed a far superior transfer budget when the transfer embargo is lifted and Chelsea are able to buy players again. Lampard will know that but so too will his players. The youngsters at the club are playing with no fear and have the unrelenting ambition that comes with being a young sportsman out to prove himself. They are aware qualifying to Europe’s elite would mean there’s more cash available to replace them, but they also have a real desire to show just what they are worth on the main stage, against the best players in the world.

Man City end Chelsea’s winning run of form

A closer look at Chelsea’s recent form shows just how impressive they have been and also gives encouragement for what lies ahead. At the end of the international Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, with 13 Premier League games on the board, Chelsea boast career stats of eight wins and two draws against three defeats. They rhymed off a run of impressive wins but that purple patch eventually came to a halt when suffering defeat at the Etihad Stadium. That didn’t come without putting up a fight, however, matching the champions stride for stride for much of the contest.

Lampard’s side took the lead thanks to a goal from Kante with 21 minutes on the clock. That came against the run of play and silenced the vast majority of those camped inside the impressive arena, but it was obvious there were more goals in the game. De Bruyne equalised for The Cityzens on 29 minutes before Mahrez scored a goal of real quality, good enough to win a football match at any level of the game. It was real individual beauty. Chelsea worked hard for a leveller, but the second half was goalless, leaving Man City as winners and there could be no arguments from either side.

Followers of Chelsea can take encouragement from recent wins in both the Premier League and Champions League, however. They beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, shared eight goals in a draw against Ajax, edged London rivals Watford 2-1 on the road. Chelsea also hammered Burnley 4-2 away from home, beat Ajax 1-0 in Holland, got the better of Southampton thanks to a 4-1 score and were incredibly impressive when edging Lille 2-1 in France.

The main rivals and top four contenders

The main rivals and contenders for a top four finish in the Premier League, outsider of Liverpool and Man City, of course, make for very interesting reading. At the time of writing, Chelsea face stiff competition from Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United and Arsenal. Man Utd and Tottenham are further down the list but can never be written off and are certain to turn around their fortunes, either during a hectic festive period or in the new year.

The Premier League top four betting is also worth a second look as there’s plenty of value available to those looking to back their predictions with hard cash. Chelsea are no better than the 4/11 offered by BetVictor to hold their position and finish in the top four. 

That quote shows how confident the money men are of Frank Lampard finishing the job. The team will try to remain in the top 4 position and the fact major bookmakers are backing them offers followers great confidence.

Bookies make Leicester odds-on

Leicester are 1/2 at William Hill to collect a Champions League finish under the guidance of former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Tottenham are next in line at 5/2 with Ladbrokes before we find Man Utd’s 13/2 (Skybet). 

We then get into the outsiders and find Arsenal at 8/1 with Betfair and Wolves 22/1 William Hill. The quotes mentioned are market best price at the time of writing and are the UK online bookmakers to follow when making your Premier League predictions.

Chelsea’s fixtures between now and 2020 include West Ham United, Aston Villa, Everton, Bournemouth, Tottenham, Southampton and Arsenal. That list would suggest The Blues have a great chance of ending the year with the leading pack.

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