The Premier League betting will be fascinating to behold this summer as we all gear up for another long and enthralling top-flight campaign.
Already, Manchester City are odds-on favourites to secure another league crown and this hardly surprises given their recent dominance of domestic football.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are priced around the 10/1 mark, reflecting their outstanding year as Mikel Arteta’s vision bears fruit, and beyond the Gunners in quick succession are the usual suspects, Manchester United and Liverpool.
The newest, richest kid on the block, Newcastle United, are firmly in the reckoning too.
You may however notice an omission from this esteemed short-list and it’s an odd one when it’s acknowledged that prior to a disastrous 2022/23, Chelsea averaged a third place Premier League finish in the five years following their last title success in 2017.
This is a club that is typically uber-competitive at the highest echelon of the English game, one that has spent north of £560m in the last calendar year to ensure they are uber-competitive again.
Furthermore, this is a club under new ownership, a seriously ambitious consortium led by billionaire Todd Boehly who have no intention of standing still this summer to admire the sheer scale of their investment thus far.
To add to an already star-studded squad, Christopher Nkunku will join, the prolific French striker having agreed a pre-contract deal, while the Blues are being linked to all manner of exciting talent, from Lautaro Martinez to Romeo Lavia, to Wilfried Zaha.
The feeling is that should everything begin to click at Stamford Bridge, their odds in the football betting may come tumbling down come the autumn.
Of course, such positivity ignores the elephant in the room, or more accurately the steaming pile of manure it has left behind in the form of Chelsea’s current, dilapidated campaign.
Some allowances were made for Thomas Tuchel’s sacking just six games in because new owners always tend to want their own man, but still by every conceivable metric it was a premature decision, made all the stranger after Boehly fully backed the German in the summer, bringing in a wealth of players considered a neat fit for Tuchel’s style of play.
At the time of his sacking, the Blues resided sixth, having picked up 10 points from a possible 18.
In came Graham Potter, the chief architect of a long-term project we were told, but the Brighton man struggled to carry sufficient weight at the helm with results suffering as a consequence.
Factor in also, Frank Lampard’s moribund spell as interim boss and that brings us to the present and a league table that makes for depressing, slightly surreal reading.
With less than a handful of fixtures remaining, Chelsea lie outside of the top ten, behind neighbours in Fulham and Brentford who they have long lorded over.
They have won less than a third of their games, and all season long they have committed to just three more shots on target to Everton and Leicester, both of whom languish in the drop-zone.
This has naturally translated to a meagre tally in the goals for column, with Chelsea scoring an average of a goal per 90, almost half that of Liverpool’s total, who are also said to be enduring a season to forget.
Indeed, to put their troubles into proper context, were it not for Tuchel’s 50% win ratio early into their campaign, Chelsea would be deep in the relegation mire right now.
And yet. And yet.
While not for a moment down-playing the depths in which Chelsea have plumbed across their annus horribilis, even when entrenched in crisis they have been proficient at the back, blessed as they are with a roster of elite staff.
We'll keep working together. 💪 pic.twitter.com/TZRoH203Mg— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 7, 2023
Think Koulibaly and Silva with their world of experience and storied ability. Think Fofana and Badiashile, who combined cost over £100m and are destined to be defensive stalwarts at the Bridge for several years to come.
Down the flanks, Reece James and Ben Chilwell can each excel for club and country if injuries can be avoided while in midfield Kante, Kovacic and Fernandez would individually walk into any Premier League side and improve them immeasurably.
Let’s not forget either that the latter set Chelsea back a British transfer record fee. He has shone in his opening months on our shores but the best is yet to come.
Up front, well now we admittedly encounter some pushback because Raheem Sterling is clearly not the answer, a once impactful winger whose career trajectory is on the decline.
Pulisic, Harvertz and loanee Joao Felix meanwhile are very much of a like, supremely gifted on their day but focal points they are not. That’s where Nkunku comes on, or for that matter, Martinez.
With a brilliant targetman to feed off, Chelsea’s attack suddenly makes sense. Suddenly it can thrive.
In the days ahead, Maurico Pochettino – a superb coach with a point to prove in the Premier League - is expected to be announced as Chelsea’s next manager and what he’ll inherit is a squad capable of winning a title.
The rest, from the outside looking in, is just possibility and jigsaw pieces arranged in the right places.
The Blues have suffered a nadir in modern times, no question about it. But they can be a force to be reckoned with again next term. Just you watch.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*