Forget defending their Premier League title, Champions League or even Europa League qualification, the best Chelsea can hope for this term is a top-ten finish.
That’s according to ten-year statistics unearthed by news.bwin.com in a bid to place a familiar footballing cliché under the microscope.
“Show me the table after ten games” has long been the stock response to the status-quo subversion behind unfamiliar-looking early-season league positions.
The assumption is that once the season ticks over into its second quarter, surprise residents in the standings’ upper echelons will have fallen, Icarus-like, back down to their usual level, while any slow-starting behemoths will finally be up and running.
With the likes of West Ham and Leicester occupying European qualification positions and Chelsea still down in 15th place this term, it was expected that the cliché would be exposed as baseless.
Yet, unfortunately for the defending champions (whose Premier League betting odds are even money for a top-four finish), a club’s Premier League position after ten games has proven an alarmingly good predictor of where they go on to finish across the last ten completed seasons .
From 15th after ten games, no side across the last ten seasons has climbed higher than the ninth place Birmingham (2009/10) and Fulham (2011/12) settled upon by the end of the campaign.
The average finish for the position over the past decade is 13th, with all bar the aforementioned duo ending term in 12th or lower.
Birmingham were even relegated in 2010/11, having sat 15th after ten games.
Hope that Chelsea can make a mockery of the trends springs from the fact that previous residents of their current strata over the period in question have been clubs of decidedly lesser stature.
In addition to those already mentioned, Sunderland, West Ham, Stoke (twice), Wigan, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa make up the dectet.
Disconcertingly, the title (and in all likelihood the Champions League look well and truly) beyond them, with 60% of sides who were in first after ten games going on to win the league.
During the same timeframe no team were able to haul themselves into a top-four spot from a lower position at the current juncture than Liverpool did in 2004/05, who did so from 12th.
Meanwhile, 60% of outfits to occupy the Champions League spots at the ten-game stage were still there when the season came to an end.