They may have not got within nine points of the title since winning it under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009/10, but with the returning Jose Mourinho sure to galvanise all at Stamford Bridge and their chief rivals welcoming managers less accustomed to their new surroundings, they will be able to overcome some squad deficiencies and line the palms of believers who back them to win the Premier League at 11/5.
It’s hard to underestimate the impact the return of Mourinho will have upon Chelsea after his near mythical first reign at the club transformed them from a pretty side lacking in substance to a lean, mean, league-winning machine with the most miserly defence this side of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s five-a-side team.
Senior dressing room figures like John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech are disciples of the Portuguese and will ensure that the new manager’s ideas are given maximum respect in the dressing room. Such respect is richly deserved by a man whose record speaks for itself.
When given a full season at the helm of a club, the only time Mourinho has failed to win the league at the first possible opportunity during his career was when taking two seasons to overcome arguably the best team seen if not ever, then since Arrigo Sacchi’s peerless AC Milan outfit of the 1990s, in Barcelona.
Considering his first spell in west London began with a weighty transfer splurge, the comparatively moderate summer shop this time around could be cause for concern.
The Blues’ three highest league goal-scorers in 2012/13 were midfielders, whilst they lack a standout campaigner in the holding midfield area.
However the return of Romelu Lukaku from a successful loan at West Brom should go some way to remedying this, with the creative might of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard – the division’s top assisters last term – sure to provide him with more service than their counterparts at West Brom, were he nonetheless gleaned 18 goals in 2012/13.
The weakness in holding midfield is more pronounced, with Frank Lampard unsuited to playing deep, John Obi Mikel uninspired with and without the ball and David Luiz surely destined for more time in central defence, but the return of Michael Essien can offer a powerful and energetic alternative in this role.
Chelsea had the divison’s second best attack and third best defence last year and it hardly requires a great leap of faith to envisage a few tweaks from a manager not just respected but worshipped by many on both sides of the Stamford Bridge touchline being enough to the see them take the title.