When the Capitol One Cup draw ruled that Chelsea would face Arsenal just 48 hours after the Premier League fixture against Manchester City, Chelsea fans would have been forgiven worrying about a difficult few days.
After all, the recent record against Manchester City is worrying (albeit more so away from home). And defeat in the Capitol One Cup might not be the most devastating thing that can happen to a team, but defeat to the early season league leaders would only spur them on.
Instead, we were treated to a thrilling late winner from Fernando Torres (courtesy of one Joe Hart of course!) against Man City, and an utterly dominant win at The Emirates.
Such is the strength in depth at Jose Mourinho’s disposal that the team came through two difficult games against two of the Premier League’s top teams in a very short space of time unscathed, with two wins, four goals scored and only one conceded.
Mourinho made 10 changes to the side that beat Man City. But that didn’t signal a weakened team. In fact, it was an XI that most managers can only dream of fielding; one that would probably challenge for the title on its own. And that strength in depth could be the key to Chelsea’s success this season.
It’s something I don’t think we’ve had since the end of the last title winning season in 09/10. The following summer, Michael Ballack, Deco, Joe Cole, Juliano Belletti and Ricardo Carvalho left the club. Ramires was the only notable signing that summer, it would be another two years before another right-back was signed in the former of Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz would not be signed until January.
Since that summer, I feel we’ve lacked in at least one department. If you look back at last season for instance, we were short on competition up front and short on numbers in the centre of midfield. Thankfully, when Mourinho returned he brought with him his ‘two players for every position’ philosophy. Juan Mata doesn’t have to play every game now. Okay, perhaps he should, but there is now a situation where when he – or any other player – needs a rest, they can have one without having a detrimental impact on the team and its performance.
Sunday and Tuesday night were fantastic results for Chelsea provided by two almost completely different line ups. And that depth could take Chelsea onto repeat the successes of Mourinho’s first season in charge.