With their comfortable victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Chelsea not only moved seven points clear of Southampton in second place in the Barclays Premier League table but also continued their blistering start to the 2014/15 season.
Dropping points on only two occasions so far (1-1 draws away to Manchester City and Manchester United), the 32 points garnered by Jose Mourinho’s men after 12 matchweeks represents the second-best start to a season in the Barclays Premier League. The best was achieved by Manchester City in 2011/12, when Roberto Mancini’s team had won 11 matches, drawing 2-2 at Fulham in the other, to lead with 34 points.
Chelsea’s pace this campaign is ahead of that set by Mourinho’s title-winning team of 2004/05 – in his first season at Stamford Bridge – which reached the record total of 95 points in the Barclays Premier League. After 12 matches of that season, Chelsea had 29 points, with two draws (both goalless against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa in matchweeks five and six) and a defeat by Man City in MW9.
Having dropped seven points in their opening 12 matches, Mourinho’s 2004/05 team then went on to avoid any further defeat and shared just six draws in their remaining 26 matches. If Chelsea are to better the record of 95 points, they require a further 64 from the next 26 matches, a dropping of 14 points, the equivalent to four defeats and a draw or seven draws.
The earliest point at which Chelsea can overtake City’s start is on MW15, with at least two wins and draw from their next three matches. The tremendous start made by Mancini’s City in 2011/12 was slowed by a draw with Liverpool in MW13 and a 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea two matches later, giving them 38 points at that stage. City’s next reverse that season came at Sunderland, who also took points off them with a 3-3 draw at the Etihad in the title run-in.
That draw was part of a sequence of five BPL matches without a win that ultimately did not cost City the title. Sergio Aguero came to the rescue with a 94th-minute winner against Queens Park Rangers to secure the title on the final day of the campaign. However, the stutter did end hopes of beating Chelsea’s record points haul. Despite winning their final six matches, City finished the season on 89 points.
Sunderland have the opportunity to be the giant-killers again when they host Chelsea on Sunday at 1.30pm GMT. It is a role familiar to Gus Poyet’s team, who have already beaten the Blues this year. Sunderland’s 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge in April last season was not only the first defeat Mourinho had suffered in the BPL at home, but it also derailed Chelsea’s title bid, while kickstarting Sunderland’s improbable ‘great escape’ from relegation.