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The underappreciated Chelsea team that should be regarded as highly as Man City and Liverpool

Ten years ago today Didier Drogba was sprung from the bench to score his 25th goal of the season at Old Trafford. A 2-1 win moved Chelsea back to the top of the table with five games to go, a position that they would not relinquish.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side held off Manchester United by winning four of the remaining matches with an aggregate score of 19-2 before beating Portsmouth 1-0 in the FA Cup final having broken several long-standing records.

But a decade on does the only Chelsea side to do the double get the credit it deserves?

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The bare facts, even beyond silverware, suggests that this was the Blues’ most exciting title-winning team.

Yet the manner in which Ancelotti departed 12 months later, how the campaign was overshadowed by off-field, tabloid-fuelled scandals and the fact that their nearest challengers up the M6 were facing an, albeit brief, existential crisis moulded a different impression.

For a neutral there was much to dislike: the negative media coverage of certain players, a Fifa transfer ban relating to the signing of Gael Kakuta that was lifted by February, the perception that the club were still buying success. But looking back with the benefit of hindsight it feels like this team were, as a collective, among the Premier League’s most underappreciated.

They may not have possessed the defensive dominance of Jose Mourinho’s early iterations or the consistency of Antonio Conte’s team winning 13 games in a row in 2016-17 but they kept 18 clean sheets while boasting a ruthless and slick attacking machine seldom seen up to that point.

There were flaws, undoubtedly, and the Champions League defeat to an Internazionale side managed by Mourinho may still rankle but that should not be enough to cloud their domestic achievements.

Chelsea became the first side to score more than a century in a Premier League campaign,…

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