It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life. So who is really feeling good entering the 2014-15 English Premier League campaign?
Arsenal is improved, Manchester City is the champion, Liverpool is relevant, Manchester United is rebounding rather impressively and Everton is as strong as it has been in recent memory. But no one is feeling as good as Chelsea about its Premier League title chances.
Since returning to West London, manager Jose Mourinho has publicly pleaded for a top striker. Over the summer, he finally found his man in Diego Costa. The Brazilian-born forward who pledged international allegiance to Spain is so striking that his arrival at Stamford Bridge overshadowed the return of the king, Didier Drogba.
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Within a minute of his first appearance at Stamford Bridge – 57 seconds to be exact – Costa found the back of the net. He would score again in Chelsea's 2-0 friendly victory over Real Sociedad, but the preseason goals only hinted at the quality Chelsea acquired at its point of attack.
Costa finished one goal behind Lionel Messi and four tallies behind Cristiano Ronaldo when time was called on the last Spanish season. His production was on par with the two top scorers of this, or any generation, and had Costa not been dealt a thigh injury late in the season, he may have well finished ahead of Messi and Ronaldo in terms of not just goals but also meaningful trophies.
In his final season on the Iberian Peninsula, Costa led Atletico Madrid to a league title with 27 goals in La Liga, but his inability to last even 10 minutes in the Champions League final did not help Atletico's failed bid at a first-ever European Cup.
If Costa were the only major acquisition for the Blues, one could argue Chelsea could still dethrone City for league honors. Chelsea was intertwined in a three-way title race with Manchester City and Liverpool late in the 2013-14 campaign when Mourinho, arguably, prematurely renounced his club's chances and abdicated from the title race.
With Costa alone added to the mix, Chelsea should be good enough to challenge City as title favorites. However, the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Felipe Luis promulgated the Blues as a clear step ahead entering the new Premiership campaign.
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Fabregas is a proven commodity from his tenure in North London as Arsenal's captain. The Barcelona native provides Mourinho with creativity and scoring out of the midfield that was lacking a season ago. Softening the departure of Frank Lampard, Fabregas plays in dimensions that even Lampard did not touch. The two players are vastly different in their skills, strengths and abilities, but Chelsea surely did not lose quality by sending off the 36-year-old Lampard and adding the 27-year-old Fabregas.
Mourinho's reputation as a champion and a media magnet distracts from his teams' defensive emphasis. A season ago, Chelsea allowed only 27 goals in 38 domestic league contests. The second-best defensive side, Manchester City, allowed 10 more goals. Removing Chelsea from the equation, the Premier League average was 53.9 goals allowed in 2013-14, meaning the Blues allowed half as many goals as the average Premier League club.
To add to Chelsea's defensive strength, Mourinho recalled goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid. Barely even an argument, Courtois was the best goalkeeper in Europe a season ago. Further, Chelsea brought in Felipe Luis to bolster the back four. Adding strength to the league's top defense only further promoted Chelsea's standing as title favorites.
Adding three players from Atletico Madrid – a team that was a 93rd-minute, Sergio Ramos-miracle goal away from winning the Champions League – and a special talent from Barcelona, Chelsea elevated its status from a team vying for a Premier League title a season ago to a team that would be devastated if it did not collect the fifth league title in the club's history.
With Mourinho getting everything he wanted over the summer, winning the 2014-15 Premier League is not an option. It is a requirement.
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Shahan Ahmed has previously contributed content for the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Confederations Cup, UEFA European Championships, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, and UEFA Champions League for Yahoo Sports. Contact Shahan on Twitter: @ShahanLA
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League
- Jose Mourinho
- Diego Costa
- Manchester City
- Cesc Fabregas
- Atletico Madrid
- Manchester United