Much has been made of Jose Mourinho's claims that Chelsea are still a side in development and therefore don't have the same sort of pressure that the likes of Manchester City do to win the title. It's been seen as something of a cynical ploy to unsettle a title rival and provide a shield for his own side, and to some extent it's exactly that. But it's also an astute observation as to where this team is in their cycle. City are full of players in the middle of their careers; Chelsea aren't at their peak yet.
But that doesn't mean that Mourinho's writing off the Premier League:
We don't see somebody who can destroy the competition with 95 or 100 points and win the title. That's good for the competition. But yes, we can win it. We start with zero points, we go match by match, we have a good squad: some with talent who aren't end products; some kids who haven't played a Premier League match yet. But I want to think 'yes', that this team step by step will be better, make fewer mistakes, will be more solid. This competition lasts 10 months, 38 matches. So let's go step by step.
Essentially, what Mourinho's saying is that although he doesn't think his side is going to storm their way to a title, he expects them to be fighting for it. His assessment is basically that if Chelsea can keep close and stay in touch with the leaders, the title is within reach -- in other words, that there'll be a fight for first place and that we should be involved. As the Guardian point out, it's a far cry from the 2004 Mourinho, who promised (and delivered) a championship in his first season, but then again this is a far cry from the 2004 Chelsea squad as well.
I wouldn't be surprised or upset if Chelsea missed out this year, but I'm definitely hoping that we can win the league, and I don't think that's unrealistic. The only thing we can expect is that everything is wide open this year.