Chelsea in 2022: Can Thomas Tuchel topple Liverpool and Man City in Premier League title race?
Who would bet against any or all of those predictions coming true after what 2021 delivered for this most unpredictable of animals?
Where Chelsea are concerned, all bets are off. Anything goes. Which is why they remain such must-see entertainment.
By Christmas last year the cracks had begun to show in Frank Lampard’s reign – but nobody saw what came next. After all, he only just led them to the top of the Premier League and qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Only weeks earlier he had fielded questions about managing England after building a dynasty at Stamford Bridge.
By Boxing Day, Chelsea suffered a wounding 3-1 defeat at Arsenal, which Lampard now reflects on as the moment he knew he was in trouble. By the end of January he was out. By May Chelsea were champions of Europe.
Things move quickly at this club, so the idea of making any sort of meaningful prediction about the next six weeks, let alone six months, is fraught with danger.
But here goes.
Chelsea’s outstanding start to the season has been allowed to stall since the start of the month – and while that can be put down to the ebbs and flows of a title campaign, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have set new standards when it comes to what is expected of English champions.
Can Chelsea handle the pressure of City and Liverpool and the knowledge that virtually any slip will be punished?
If anyone can break the dominance of Guardiola and Klopp, Tuchel looks well-placed to do it. His Champions League triumph last season showcased his rare qualities and Chelsea’s form so far this term proves he is a man to be taken seriously.
He knows how to win at the highest level. But if there is a doubt, it is about his ability to win a title in the face of such competition.
Winning the title with Paris Saint-Germain is very different to overcoming City and Liverpool. Even after winning the Champions League, the Premier League may well be his finest achievement.
Chelsea look like a team built to be champions and the experience of their European success last season should benefit them in the run in.
Considering the wonders Tuchel worked when taking over in January this year, there is every reason to believe he can conquer England this time around.