Five reasons why favourites Chelsea might not win the Premier League

Jose Mourinho's Blues are unbeaten but the title race is far from over

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The Independent Online

Unbeaten after 11 games and having already played at Old Trafford, the Etihad and Anfield, as well as a win against Arsenal at home, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea are looking ominous contenders for the Premier League title.

In fact, Chelsea's form, with nine wins and two draws, is looking so good that the bookies have slashed their title odds to just 1.17, while closest rivals Manchester City are all the way at 7.0.

Defensively they look solid, while possessing the best attack in the division at the moment. Big and strong also, Chelsea look to have few weaknesses in their team.

But no title was won in November, and while the Blues are looking great so far, here are a few reasons for Chelsea fans to (slightly) temper their expectations.

1) Over-reliance on key players

Chelsea have played 17 matches in all competitions so far this season and it has become clear who Jose Mourinho considers his key players.

Six players - John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic - have started 15 of those matches already, and the difference in quality between their reserves is pretty big. Oscar has also started 13 matches while Diego Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta are never out of the team when available.

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Chelsea do have a squad capable of coping with all but the worst of injury crises, but the strength of their first XI has been key in their assault to the top in the early stages of the season.

Were either Terry or Cahill to get injured then Kurt Zouma is the club's next centre-back - though Mourinho could play Ivanovic there with Filipe Luis coming in - and although he is a hugely talented youngster, he is just 20-years-old with no Premier League experience as yet.

Neither John Obi Mikel or Ramires are close to providing what Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic can offer, though they do have their roles in the squad.

An injury to Eden Hazard would be the biggest loss of all; since the start of last season, when Andre Schurrle and Willian arrived at the club, the Belgian star has provided 23 goals and 12 assists while the other two have contributed just 17 goals and 10 assists between them.Hazard plays more than those two but he is arguably the one irreplaceable player in the Chelsea squad.

2) Expected to challenge on four fronts

Depending on Liverpool's results in the next two Champions League matches, Chelsea could find themselves in the unique position among British teams of challenging in all four competitions.

Manchester City look on the brink of an early European exit and are already out of the Capital One Cup, as are Arsenal and Manchester United; Louis van Gaal's team aren't competing in Europe at all this season, of course.

Liverpool are still in the Capital One Cup but their title challenge looks to be over with just 11 games played.

The Blues could find their squad tested to the limit as they push for success both at home and abroad.

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Jose Mourinho will want to win all four competitions he is in

3) Lack of a killer instinct/over-confidence

Jose Mourinho moaned about it after poor performances against Shrewsbury Town, Maribor and Queens Park Rangers, but Chelsea have lacked occasionally lacked motivation when playing teams they should beat.

They've also dropped points in crucial matches this season because of their inability to hold on to and extend leads. Against Schalke, Manchester City and Manchester United, Chelsea could only draw when they were leading.

Chelsea proved they could hold on against Liverpool after fighting back from a goal down to win at Anfield, but there has been a defensive sloppiness in their play at times.

Imagine the strength of their position in the Premier League had they beaten City's 10-men, or not allowed United to score a dramatic late equaliser.

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Chelsea have looked unmotivated against perceived weaker teams

4) Opponents will improve

Manchester City have too much talent in their squad to continue on their current poor run. United are starting to win games even without playing at their very best and in the midst of a defensive crisis and Arsenal will eventually sort out the defensive problems they also have.

Liverpool looked better than they have done previously on Saturday and even the likes of Everton and Spurs are performing way below their expected level. Eventually one or two of these teams will improve and start to put pressure on the league leaders.

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The likes of Manchester City will surely improve

5) Poor form at this time of year

Chelsea don't seem to like it when the poor weather sets in. A poor winter run cost Luiz Felipe Scolari his job in early 2009 and since then the Blues have struggled in November and December.

In fact, Chelsea have won just 36 of their 82 matches in those two months since the start of the 2008-09 season, drawing 26 and losing 20 matches, a record of just 43.9 per cent.

With Chelsea winning an average of 59.1 per cent of all of their matches in those six seasons (with a low of 51 and a high of 70), that figure for November and December becomes more than just an anomaly, it is an annual problem.

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