Chelsea wrapped up its ninth match of the season with a 4-2 win over Watford this past weekend, and that means we’re now about at the quarter mark of the Premier League campaign. Even this stage feels like a slightly premature one at which to make judgments on top clubs. But with a quarter of the action already behind us, we can take a look at how the Blues have measured up to preseason expectations so far.
We’ll start with this most important category, and the only one many Chelsea supporters truly care about from one season to the next. Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, analysts and bookmakers alike had Chelsea and Man United listed as favourites, which in a general sense still looks like a reasonable projection. Both clubs are in the top four in the table as of this writing, which this early in the season would still qualify both as favourites. However, Chelsea is flirting with underperforming with regard to this outlook, already nine points behind league-leading Manchester City. Such a gap can be made up quickly however, even if Man City have started to look the part of a fairly dominant side.
Champions League Standing
The wide presumption among football pundits is that neither Chelsea nor any other English side currently has much of a chance to win a Champions League. That said, the Blues are expected to make a run of it at least. The stat-based sports analytics site FiveThirtyEight compiled data for each team to advance to each stage and gave Chelsea a 56 percent chance of finishing Group C in first, and an 89 percent chance to advance to the Round of 16. As supporters are well aware, Chelsea currently sit atop the group, and appear to be in a good position for matching or possibly exceeding Champions League expectations. FiveThirtyEight only gave the Blues a 40 percent chance to reach the Quarters.
Aside from team performance, the area in which it’s perhaps most interesting to watch how the action matches the expectations is in individual goal scoring. Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, most bookmakers tabbed the likes of Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero as the likeliest players to secure the Golden Boot. Alvaro Morata was typically placed around fourth or fifth in the odds, with Diego Costa just a few spots lower. Of course, Costa has since moved to Atlético Madrid, but it’s worth noting that Morata is performing much as expected. He’s currently tied for third among Premier League top scorers, behind only Aguero and Lukaku – and it could be that as the team continues to adjust without Costa, he’ll see even more opportunity.
At the quarter mark (or as close to it as you can get in a 38-match schedule), it’s fair to say that Chelsea has overall performed close to exactly as expected. This team is just where many thought t would be in its two biggest competitions, and with regard to the work of its top players. That’s not a bad place to be nine matches into the domestic slate, and gives the Blues every chance to exceed expectations moving forward.