OpinionKevin Moran

It's been a bridge of sighs for the nearest challengers to Chelsea

Kevin MoranBy Kevin Moran
Champs: Chelsea
Champs: Chelsea

We were all expecting this season’s Premier League title race to be the most thrilling and unpredictable in recent years – yet Chelsea’s rivals have all been pretty pathetic in their failed attempts to keep pace with Jose Mourinho’s side.

Chelsea cannot be blamed for this season’s title race lacking a spark of excitement as I would suggest it is the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool who are the real villains of the piece this season.
 
While Mourinho’s side have been consistently the best from start to finish and they will fully deserve to be crowned as champions if they beat Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge today, their rivals at the top of the Premier League have plenty of questions to answer.
 
In what is often hailed as the most competitive league in world football, Chelsea have been allowed to stroll to victory in a manner that has shattered that image, and we can only hope that next season’s title race is a little more interesting than what has basically become a procession for Mourinho’s and his team over the last few weeks.
 
I thought from the start of this season that the title race would be between Chelsea and Manchester City and that was the case for many a month, but City have dropped off badly in the last few weeks and they now need a post-mortem to assess where they go from here.
 
Chelsea can adapt their tactics from game to game; they can play brilliant attacking football with the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Diego Costa in their side, but they also have an ability to play a more conservative game that can frustrate their opponents.
 
 
I don’t see that kind of flexibility with City. Pellegrini sends his team out to score more goals than their opponents and, such is the talent in their team, they tend to come out on top more often than not.
 
However, City gave a tendency to forget about defending at times and there are not enough people in Pellegrini’s team tracking back and working hard when the going gets tough. Mourinho has each and every one of his players fighting for the Chelsea cause and you need that week-in, week-out.
 
Ask me to pick out a boring team for a large part of this season and I would argue it was my old club Manchester United, who were playing a patient passing game under Louis van Gaal for a long period without a purpose or a cutting edge. 
 
United were boring to watch for large parts of this season and it is only because they have picked up a few big wins and look set to finish in the top four that people forget about those dire performances.
 
If United finish in the top four and get back into the Champions League next season, it will be the first part of the job done for Van Gaal – and then he can look to attack the transfer market this summer and try to sign a couple of marquee players that can take his team to the next level.
 
Liverpool have been the big disappointments of this season’s title race. It was always going to be tough for them after losing Luis Suarez, but they did not spend the money they got from his sale wisely and there is a danger his old club will be left behind by the teams that will finish ahead of them this season.
 
What of Arsenal? I think Arsene Wenger has done a fantastic job once again and, if they finish second and win the FA Cup, no one could argue with any credibility that they have not had a successful season.
 
The problem for me with Arsenal is I don’t see them seriously challenging for the title any time soon, and that infuriates their supporters. They do what they do; finish in the top four, have a good cup run and say they hope they can do better next season. 
 
So even though I still think Wenger is a wonderful manager, I suspect the only two teams that can challenge Chelsea’s dominance in the coming years will be the two Manchester clubs – and I expect both to spend big in the transfer market this summer to bridge the gap Mourinho’s team have opened up on the rest.
 
I’m sure Mourinho will not complain if we have another ‘boring’ Premier League title race next season because, as long as he ends up winning, the Chelsea manager doesn’t care how he gets there. 
 
The rivals he has left in his wake this season would do well to learn from that ethos.