Gary Neville: Chelsea’s form undermines their claim to be Premier League great

Chelsea let slip an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Former Manchester United defender and now football pundit Gary Neville believes that Chelsea’s recent slump undermines their claim to be among the Premier League’s greats.

The Blues started the season in explosive fashion, going 15 games unbeaten and opening up an impressive eight-point gap over reigning champions Manchester City in second place.

Aside from their dominant run, Jose Mourinho’s side displayed such a swagger that many observers soon started to question whether they could match the famous Arsenal Invincibles of 2003/04.

That 49-game unbeaten run, however, was soon to be a distant dream as the Stamford Bridge outfit crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United before losing 5-3 to Tottenham Hotspur in an epic New Year's Day encounter.

Their defeats, coupled with draws at Sunderland and Southampton, has seen the West Londoners surrender top spot outright and in turn hamper their aura of imperiousness.

While this might be seen as a positivity for the competitiveness within England’s top flight, Neville claims the Blues’ slump could have an adverse effect on clubs striving for the very top.

“The results at Sunderland, Newcastle, Southampton and Spurs undermine their claim to be the thing they promised to be in the first 15 games,” he wrote in his blog for the Telegraph.

“In my business I hear people say Chelsea dropping points is good for the league. The opposite seems true to me. I always want a competitive league with changing leadership and I always want the bottom to be capable of beating the top.

“But what I loved about Chelsea in the first two or three months of the season was that they looked a potential Premier League standout side to go alongside three or four others in the last 20 years.

“So my hope was that an outstanding team had emerged. The benefit of that is that it pulls everyone else up. Rather than crushing the others it raises the standard and galvanises rivals.

“I would have preferred Manchester City to be forced into busting a gut to catch them. City are on a marvellous run, so I’m not dismissing their good form, but I still feel the title race has been opened up mainly by Chelsea coming back towards the pack.”

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