Chelsea have won the title by a single point but their superiority is beyond dispute. Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, other members of the usual elite, lost every game they played against Carlo Ancelotti’s team. The Premier League trophy, four years after they last lifted it, has been swept back to Stamford Bridge on a spate of free-scoring gusto.
The Italian has far to go before fans at Stamford Bridge put him on a par with José Mourinho, who last conveyed the title to Chelsea, but he has exercised a different sort of expertise. Ancelotti’s alterations to the squad went little further than the addition of Yuri Zhirkov, who has started 10 league games, although his presence was a mighty relief when Ashley Cole broke his ankle.
The true impact has been simple yet memorable. Chelsea have racked up 103 league goals, six more than the previous record set by United in 1999-2000. The defence doesn’t have the stringency associated with the Mourinho era and it was a handicap, too, that injury has sidelined midfielder Michael Essien since early December.
Nowadays Chelsea are at their healthiest in attack and Didier Drogba has 29 goals in the league, his best return in half-a-dozen seasons at the club. Ancelotti has been highly effective in utilising his predators without unduly compromising the organisation of the line-up.
The figures demonstrate that they can be free spirits but the advance in the league has also been dogged. Of course, the title confirms that they have been less accident-prone than their rivals. Ancelotti has no blot on the record, for instance, to compare with United’s failure at Burnley. Chelsea’s margin has been narrow but managers can take credit for maintaining such an edge.
When asked about the possibility of bidding for Liverpool's Fernando Torres, Ancelotti replied he already had Drogba. It ignored the fact that the Ivorian, at 32, will not stay at his present level for long. Ancelotti knows there cannot be a splurge because Roman Abramovich decided it was senseless to repeat the earlier transfer sprees. The manager, instead, highlights Gaël Kakuta and four other youngsters whose time will come next season. Perhaps the quintet will constitute a revitalising force.
ITALIAN PRESS HAILs ANCELOTTI
Gazzetta dello Sport highlighted Ancelotti’s achievement by putting a picture of the former Milan manager holding the trophy on their front page. “King Charles of England; no Italian coach had ever won the Premier League title. Ancelotti champion in his debut year,” it said.
“Ancelotti triumph,” was Corriere dello Sport’s headline. “He is the first Italian to win the Premier League.” Tuttosport said, “Ancelotti, oh yes, the Premier is his.”
“Ancelotti triumphs in his first try,” said La Repubblica. “Vedi, vini, vici: Carlo Ancelotti conquers England in his first try and becomes king of London.”