After months of ranting and raving that Chelsea don't deserve the title I've finally accepted that they probably did deserve it this season. Obviously every season the top teams have to overcome hurdles and this season is no different with both Man Utd & Arsenal fans able to point to injuries as the main reason they didn't win, Arsenal losing Robin Van Persie so early in the season followed by Gallas, then Fabregas & Arshavin for the run in, and Man Utd not being able to call on a settled back four until February however Chelsea had many injury problems themselves. Missing a player of the quality of Michael Essien for a large part of the season would hinder any team, the fact he was only able to start 13 games all season was a massive blow as he is one of the key cogs in their midfield. Not forgetting of course Carvalho's injury problems this season, Ashley Cole being injured for 3 months and both his and John Terry's off-field problems as well contributing to what seemed at one point a very shaky defence (Everton & Wigan games spring to mind). This is, of course, nothing compared to the injury woes Man Utds defence has suffered but the difference between the 2 teams, quite clearly, is there attacking threat.
Whilst both teams have excellent front line options with Drogba at Chelsea and Rooney at United, its Uniteds lack of depth that was their weak point. Berbatov filled the role to a point and I personally thought he had a pretty good season with 24 starts, 12 goals & 5 assists being a record that shouldn't be sneered at, however at times he looked lost in the 4-5-1 formation that Sir Alex has used this season. From Chelsea's point of view Nicolas Anelka hasn't exactly been poor with his stats of 31 starts, 11 goals and 7 assists but the key difference can be found in midfield - more specifically Frank Lampard.
I for one have frequently had pops at Lampard, he can't do it for England, he only scores deflected free kicks, he's over weight and over rated, but this season he has been truly phenomenal. He's kept his head down and got on with what he does best - scoring goals and driving the team forward, in 36 starts he scored 22 goals and got 14 assists meaning he was involved in at least one goal every game he started, a record only bettered by his team mate Drogba (31 starts, 29 goals, 10 assists). Together the pair of them have been instrumental in Chelsea's success and when you consider the improvement players like Malouda and Ivanovic they seem to have attacking options all over the pitch. Whilst Nani has improved for United players like Scholes, Giggs & Carrick have had average season's and when Rooney wasn't firing or was out of the starting XI it was a struggle to see where the goals came from. Although both teams had very similar home & away records the key results really came against each other in which Chelsea won both games and although some may argue draws would have been fairer results really United never looked like winning either game.
Whilst writing this blog I've also realised that despite the fact Rooney won the player of the year award in fairness both Lampard and Drogba have a right to feel aggrieved - Lampard for not even making the shortlist despite his best ever season and Drogba for not winning it. Despite missing 4 league games he still scored more goals than any other player (remember he didn't score in any of the games Chelsea got 7, although he got a hat-trick in the 8-0) and was 3rd in the assist table behind Lampard & Fabregas - who's main roles are creating chance's for strikers.
Drogba & Lampard have been excellent this season, and despite his sulks and tantrums this is the reason why Drogba has been kept at Chelsea. Lampard has been the usual top professional that we have grown used to seeing and maybe, Chelsea fans aside, don't appreciate as much as we should. I know that I, for one, have found a new level of appreciation for both players after this season, the question is can they keep their games at this level next season when United are sure to come back with a real determination to take the title back to Manchester
As always any feedback can be left in comments below or you can e-mail me at Buster_5265@hotmail.com or find me on twitter at www.twitter.com/Buster_5265.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and for the next few weeks I will be talking mainly about the up coming World Cup and maybe the odd transfer rumour that crops up