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7 truths: Unloved Chelsea will improve, cause for optimism at Tottenham

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (C), Adnan Januzaj (L) and Robin Van Persie react during their English Premier League soccer match against Leicester City at the King Power stadium in Leicester, northern England September 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Darren Staples    (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) - RTR4747I

1) Chelsea are still unloved…

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (C), Adnan Januzaj (L) and Robin Van Persie react during their English Premier League soccer match against Leicester City at the King Power stadium in Leicester, northern England September 21, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples (BRITAIN – Tags: SPORT SOCCER) – RTR4747I

It may well be that Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s fans don’t care how they win. Frankly, why should they? But such has been their supremacy that Mourinho’s mid-season abandonment of sexy football does seem rather a shame. If ever there was a campaign to have a virtually risk-free crack at winning hearts and minds, it was this one. This is a very good team, but it will not yet be remembered by posterity with the same fondness as Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson’s finest sides

2) …but it’s not their fault this season was so awful…

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (C), Adnan Januzaj (L) and Robin Van Persie react during their English Premier League soccer match against Leicester City at the King Power stadium in Leicester, northern England September 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Darren Staples    (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) - RTR4747I

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (C), Adnan Januzaj (L) and Robin Van Persie react (Reuters)

If there was a sense of anti-climax on Sunday afternoon, the blame for that can be placed with their rivals. Manchester United and Liverpool were never in the hunt. Arsenal peaked too late; Manchester City peaked too soon, and their dramatic loss of form left the title race with as much suspense as a whodunnit read from back to front.

3) …and they will be even better next season

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (Reuters)

Flush with cash and FFP flexibility following the big-dosh sales of David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku and Andre Schurrle, Chelsea can and will flex their muscles this summer. They have a young squad full of resale value and if they land the likes of Raphael Varane or Paul Pogba everyone else might as well not turn up next season. Mourinho’s continued reliance on John Terry is about the only cloud on the horizon.

4) Sergio Aguero, not Diego Costa, should have been in the PFA Team of the Year

Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring the first goal for Manchester City

Can we really say Costa has had an outstanding season when seven of his 19 Premier League goals came before mid-September? His role has diminished as the months have ticked by, with Eden Hazard stepping into the role of attacking talisman at Stamford Bridge.

Aguero, by contrast, has starred for a below-par Manchester City for the majority of the campaign and tops the goalscorer charts with 22 goals – two clear of Harry Kane, three ahead of the Chelsea man. It appears the only reason the Argentine was snubbed is because we expect more from him. It’s been an ordinary season by his lofty standards, but that shouldn’t deny him a spot in the team if his mediocrity is still better than the others’ excellence. 

5) Spurs will challenge for the top four next season… if they fully adapt to Mauricio Pochettino’s style

Manchester City’s Martin Demichelis in action with Tottenham’s Harry Kane (Reuters)

The high tempo pressing game that has flitted in and out at White Hart Lane this season was evident against Manchester City. Spurs’ top four chase might have faded in recent weeks, but their performance against the now-former champions highlighted how much potential this team has. On another day, they could have run out convincing winners.

Their energetic approach was summed up when Harry Kane tracked David Silva into his own corner and – just when you feared a viral nutmeg was imminent – ushered the ball out for a goal-kick. If they can hold onto Kane, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris in the summer (admittedly a big if) then there is no reason they can’t challenge for a Champions League spot next season given how much potential is in their squad.

6) Aleksandar Kolarov has an almighty left foot

Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov (Reuters)

Kolarov could do a lot worse than shooting every time he picks up possession 30 yards from goal. The Serbian unleashed a brutal swerving shot that almost caught out Hugo Lloris on Sunday afternoon – not the first time he has let fly with ferocity in his Manchester City career. Left-back rival Gael Clichy may be the master of an interception, but Kolarov’s attacking offerings means he should be first choice at City next season. 

7) The Europa League doesn’t have to be a curse

 

UEFA Europa League trophy (Reuters)

Why is the Europa League treated with such derision? When did a competition – particularly one with the added carrot of Champions League qualification for the winners – become such a chore?

The solution to tiredness is simple: send a completely different team on any long-distance trips across the continent, and even consider leaving the manager on home shores to allow a flawless preperation for the weekend Premier League fixture. Then, upon inevitable qualification for the knockout phase, the tournament can be taken seriously. Tottenham, Liverpool and Southampton/Aston Villa, take note.

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