The Blues’ run of form has seen them go from mid-table to sitting right behind Jurgen Klopp’s men, which has left them looking like contenders.
Edouard Mendy embraced Reece James as they walked off the field, while Ben Chilwell had Thiago Silva in a playful headlock following Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Sheffield United, emphasizing the prevalent feeling currently around the club.
Joy is being felt. Work on the training field is now beginning to show on the pitch, new signings are bedding in nicely and Frank Lampard’s side are racing up the Premier League table ahead of the international break.
Chelsea are now just one point behind the table-topping duo of Liverpool and Southampton, a situation which puts the Blues firmly in the title conversation.
In a title race that looks like it’s going to have plenty of outsiders, Chelsea look now to be the most threatening to Liverpool and Manchester City, who face each other on Sunday night.
The depth of the squad and the ease in which the big signings have settled have meant a rapid improvement in form.
Lampard has been cautious about talking of the title to minimise pressure on his side, but the noise from outside increasingly puts Chelsea in the picture.
“We are third. Now we are seeing some of the work. Some of the work today was really encouraging for me to see those signs. I am the first to keep my feet on the ground,” Lampard told Sky Sports after downing the Blades at Stamford Bridge.
“Every game is challenging. The players are the ones who deliver and deserve that first credit. They were amazing, all of them today. The balance of the team was good and it’s nice to see. We must continue. I really enjoyed watching it, but I know how football is.”
United manager Chris Wilder, having seen his side play both Liverpool and Man City already this season, puts Lampard’s side in the race.
“To me, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea are the top three sides in the country. Just look at Jorginho and Giroud coming off the bench,” he said.
David McGoldrick’s strike was the first breach of Mendy’s goal in 459 minutes of action but that backline looked strong for much of the 90 minutes on Saturday. It is four wins in a row – and eight games undefeated – for the side who were previously weak in defence.
Along with a settled rear guard, Lampard has got the best out of his 4-3-3 formation which has perfectly balanced his signings. Many of his new players, like Thiago Silva, are making a huge impact.
The 36-year-old’s presence has lifted both Kurt Zouma and James to a new level, and goalkeeper Mendy is a huge improvement on out-of-form Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Many of Chelsea’s most dangerous chances against the bottom of the table side were conjured by Ziyech’s wand of a left-foot, which was too much to handle.
Ziyech created more chances than any other player in a single league match this season – six -with two leading directly to goals on a day when Chelsea created 20 in total.
He played in Mateo Kovacic, who pulled the ball back for Tammy Abraham’s opening goal. He then assisted Ben Chilwell’s far-post tap-in with his trademark crossing ability and again for Thiago Silva. Timo Werner rounded off the scoring with his eighth of the season in all competitions.
Ziyech’s emergence epitomises the squad strength at Stamford Bridge. The puzzle presented by an injury to Christian Pulisic was easily solved by his presence, while Kai Havertz’s positive Covid-19 test rules him out for the time being.
Abraham has also emerged up front to breathe new life into the team. A run of good performances has seen him claim four goals and five assists despite limited minutes this season. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Giroud are still struggling for game time as Chelsea’s £220 million ($275m) round of spending has elevated the club to be rapidly ready for a title charge.
The return on investment is being proven through the current league position, with an extra four points being earned from the same fixtures compared to last season.
The truncated schedule following the coronavirus pandemic has meant less time to recover between matches, and an increased risk of players missing games through injury or illness. But the squad depth is now sufficient to withstand those rigours.
The rapid schedule has also led to strange results, and with Man City currently languishing in the bottom half, the gaze may increasingly turn to the Blues to provide Liverpool with a title race.
Dare Chelsea dream? With Ziyech as their new talisman, Chelsea can now be quietly confident.