Thanks to an influx of new money, the landscape in the Premier League has shifted radically from where it was a few years ago. The top of the table is now much, much tighter, and we're currently engaged in a title race with at least five not-insane candidates. In late December, no less. Liverpool are resurgent, Arsenal have morphed from also-rans into a serious threat, and neither Manchester club can be discounted at this point in the season. We're up there as well, of course, but only four of the aforementioned clubs are even going to be playing Champions League football next season. Reaching the top four's a bigger ask than it has been at any point in the past decade.
Jose Mourinho's evaluation of the situation is a sobering -- and ultimately correct -- one:
Chelsea won the league a few years ago but in the last two years were 24 and 14 points behind the leader. So we try to finish in the top four and if we manage to do that, let's see what else we can do.
I've seen this reported without the 'and if we manage to do that, let's see what else we can do' part in several other outlets, which completely changes the meaning of the quote, but in this version the manager is talking about building a solid platform from which we can push for the title, not ceding it entirely. Manchester City are obviously favourites, but almost halfway through the campaign, we're within striking distance and it's not totally inconceivable that we could leapfrog Arsenal this weekend.
It's been a tough, frustrating season so far, but it's not just been Chelsea who've been having troubles. This is the new Premier League. Welcome aboard.
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