While the football world has spent the opening period of the Barclays Premier League season purring over the form of the Manchester Clubs, Chelsea have slipped firmly under the radar and have almost been written off as title contenders.It is true that both United and City have been the most impressive of the frontrunners so far and played the best football, but a quick look at the league table shows Chelsea tucked nicely in third place just three points behind the Manchester rivals.
It could be argued the media focus on Manchester is not unusual. Even when they were winning trophies, Chelsea were never the glamour club in the eyes of the media and Chelsea shirts have never topped the bestsellers charts at online football stores. The assumption in recent weeks has been that the title is Manchester bound this season. Yet nobody knows more about going too fast out the blocks than Chelsea. Last season, the title was all but handed to them after just a handful of games as they, like United and like City, looked unstoppable as they brushed aside all comers.
Yet problems were to follow as the Blues embarked on a disastrous season that at one stage saw them in danger of missing out on a Champions League spot and would ultimately cost boss Carlo Ancelotti his job. Chelsea's start has been solid if not spectacular. They were written off as title contenders after their opening day draw at Stoke, but as Manchester United showed this is not an easy place to go and it could prove to be a point gained rather than 2 points lost. Even in defeat at Old Trafford, Chelsea played well and were it not for some rather erratic finishing they could have taken something from the game.
The signs are positive for Chelsea. With Frank Lampard back among the goals with a hat-trick at Bolton and Fernando Torres starting to show signs of a return to form, there is more than enough quality for Andre Villas-Boas men to mount a title charge. After the disappointment of last season, perhaps operating in the shadows with lower expectation levels could be just what Chelsea need, particularly with Villas-Boas in his first season in the Premier League. I wouldn't class them as favourites, but Chelsea are definitely not just also-rans in the race for this years title.
Written by Colin Hill, a sports blogger who writes about football gifts.