There’s no doubting Chelsea can beat the world’s very best teams.
They have the chance to win the Club World Cup in a matter of weeks to earn the title of the best team in the world, following their win in the Champions League over Manchester City last summer.
However, Thomas Tuchel’s side still need to prove themselves and reach the stage where they are able to challenge on multiple fronts and sustain a Premier League challenge.
That is not to say that the Blues are out of the title picture just yet, but they do lie 10 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side, and the recent history of Manchester City and Liverpool suggests the Blues will barely be able to drop a point never mind lose.
As Chelsea navigate their way through the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, the Champions League, the Club World Cup and the Premier League, winning all of them remains the ambition, and going far in each competition will be the target in seasons to follow too.
We take a look at what the Blues need to do to ensure that.
Capitalise on winning positions
Chelsea have dropped 11 points from winning positions this season. Not only is that more than the whole of last season, it would also be enough points to put them top of the table.
It also becomes apparent that converting situations where Chelsea should be winning three points or showing their superiority over weaker teams, is holding the Blues back compared to City.
While the Premier League title-holders have lost twice like Tuchel’s side, they have drawn five fewer times.
Whether this is simply a case of finding better ways to attack, converting opportunities or ensuring consistency, it is something Chelsea will have to resolve to take City to the wire.
During a period where Man City have won 11 Premier League games in a row, Chelsea have drawn four of their last five league matches.
The duo are going through difficult times with Covid-19 absences and injuries, and are the only teams not to have a game cancelled thus far, the Citizens have obviously handled the period with greater ease, however.
The importance of Chelsea’s wing-backs this season cannot be understated. While they are defenders and have value in pressing, as Marcos Alonso showed against Tottenham on Wednesday night, their contribution going forward has been crucial.
Injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell have proved difficult to overcome, despite having players to come in, and pressurised the backline due to the relentlessness of the recent schedule.
James has recorded five goals and six assists this season, and could be considered irreplaceable at the current moment.
Chilwell has been involved in fewer games but looked truly elite when he finally got his run in the side.
Chelsea have won just three of nine Premier League games since the former Leicester star suffered his season-ending injury against Juventus. The quality of that win against the Serie A side was much different to the form that has followed.
With Chilwell out for the season, and James out for a number of weeks to come, Tuchel must find a solution and that might mean signing someone to fix the issue.
Get Romelu Lukaku firing
The furore around Romelu Lukaku following his interview with Sky Italia felt like it could derail things in many ways around Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel has handled the situation with a deft touch, however, and Lukaku appears like he has some time left to succeed at Chelsea. There’s no doubting his quality when he’s on song and the Blues boss has plans to see more improvement from the Belgian.
“We have a certain formation but it’s more about principles of how we play,” said Tuchel.
“I think it’s impatience more than anything else. He is impatient. He wants big chances. But he is impatient and it is hard for him to accept that sometimes the grass does not grow faster when you pull it.
“Like in every transfer you have to accept there is a change of environment, a change of city, a change of culture, club, team-mates, playing style and league.
“He is not the first player to take some time but while he was doing it he was always scoring and we were still in the situations where we adapt to each other.
“So it’s our job to bring out the best of him, to find the right position, to find the right systems, the connections and to understand to which he has the good connection and which movement.
“This is what we do for every single player. It does not change if the player is expensive or is a free agent or is old or young. It simply does not change. So of course in the end it’s on the player.”
Lukaku has netted seven goals in 19 appearances but clearly has further to go. If he can, he’ll have a huge role in Chelsea’s success, with Mason Mount currently leading Chelsea’s top scorer chart.
Solve contract issues and sign defenders
It’s been the albatross around the club’s neck all season long. Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen’s contracts are all set to expire come the summer, and while the trio’s future remains up in the air it makes it difficult for the Blues to plan any kind of transition.
Extending Thiago Silva’s deal is a step in the right direction to ensure some consistency, while there’s even a hint that reaching January when the others can speak to other clubs could hand Chelsea an advantage.
The sooner their futures are decided, the smoother any transition can take place to prepare for continued success.
Even if all of the defenders decide to commit to the club, signing a defender of the calibre of Jules Kounde could be crucial so they can bed into the side surrounded by so much experience before Silva departs.
If the trio agree deals with another club, making a signing this month should not be ruled out.
Sign a midfielder
To be quite frank, Chelsea have a stellar cast in midfield. N’Golo Kante is perhaps the best midfielder in the world, Jorginho placed third in the Ballon D’or while Mateo Kovacic has performed more consistently than either over the course of this season.
It is a position where Chelsea have depth with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Saul Niguez. With the signing of the latter, Tuchel made it clear he thought it was crucial to add to his ranks when Billy Gilmour and Conor Gallagher went out on loan.
It is also clearly an area where Manchester City have tremendous depth, and any of their stars can be plugged in to play. Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Rodri, Bernando Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden. That’s a lot of talent.
Chelsea need to have that level of talent to compete on all fronts.
Gallagher has the potential to be welcomed back to the club, and if he’s successful that will certainly add another layer to the middle of the pitch.
Even so, the Blue should look to land a signing like Decland Rice or Aurelian Tchouameni to fulfill another role.
They will bring talent and youth, with the possibility that at least one of Kante, Jorginho or Kovacic could leave the club in the next 18 months.