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Could Chelsea Break Away From The Pack?


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Chelsea's red hot start continued in Week 6 with a routine 3-0 victory over a deceptively dangerous Aston Villa side. The match was never in doubt, and represented a strong rebound for the club after a somewhat disappointing draw at Manchester City, when a late goal by Frank Lampard robbed the Blues of what would have been a major road victory. And perhaps most thrilling of all, EPL scoring leader Diego Costa got back in a rhythm with yet another goal (his eighth overall) against Villa.

In the bigger picture, taking four points out of back-to-back matches away against Manchester City and home against frequent spoilers Aston Villa amounted to a very strong start to a difficult stretch in the schedule. And whereas a few short weeks ago it was easy to to say that Chelsea supporters ought not to get ahead of themselves, now it's becoming fair to ask: could the Blues run away from the pack in the 2013-14 Premier League?

Writing on league betting outlook for Betfair's EPL news section, Luke Moore thinks that could be the case. In a post following Week 6 action, at which point Chelsea is atop the league standings with 16 points, just three ahead of Southampton but well clear of top rivals Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Following the easy victory over Aston Villa, Moore writes that the Blues remain "hot favourites" for the title, with 1.65 odds to win the league - a pretty significant edge this early in the season. For reference, Man City is next best at just 3.65 odds to win the league.

But is this edge in the betting outlook based purely on early season success, or is it justifiable looking forward? As mentioned, Chelsea's in the midst of a tough stretch in the schedule, but earning a point at the Etihad arguably takes care of the toughest match on the schedule for the entire season. But the club will need to stay sharp in the coming weeks to maintain its status as a runaway favourite. Next up on October 5 is a crucial Week 7 fixture with Arsenal that the Blues ought to be able to take advantage of. While few will doubt the Gunners' overall quality, the Arsene Wenger's club has been far from consistent as it looks to round into form and integrate newcomers. Chelsea ought to have the advantage this early in the year at Stamford Bridge, making this a great chance to widen the lead against a fellow contender early on.

From that point on, Chelsea has a chance to put together a truly stellar 2014 in EPL play. A look at the EPL website shows the Arsenal match followed by away contests with Crystal Palace and Manchester United (who, thus far, are disappointing once more), a home fixture with utterly overmatched QPR, and then a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. Following the Liverpool match on November 8, there are no matches against current top-five clubs remaining in 2014.

Add that all up, and it's a tremendous mix of winnable matches and opportunity for a Chelsea team that appears ready to make a statement every time it steps on the field. For whatever reason, Chelsea seems to have made quicker adjustments than other top clubs regarding incoming transfers, and that makes early matches against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal that much more appealing. It's certainly beginning to look like this year's team has a chance not just to establish itself as favourites, but to distance itself considerably from the rest of the pack early on.

And if you're too cautious to take our word for it, take Jose Mourinho's! HITC Sport wrote that Mourinho not only agrees with the growing consensus that Chelsea are EPL favourites, but believes the Blues are the best team in the running for the 2014-15 Champions League as well.

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