Michelle Kaufman

Michelle Kaufman: For Chelsea, winning Premier League is anything but boring

From right: Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea celebrate winning 3-1 after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea at The King Power Stadium in Leicester, England on April 29, 2015.
From right: Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea celebrate winning 3-1 after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea at The King Power Stadium in Leicester, England on April 29, 2015. Getty Images

Chelsea might be “boring” in the eyes of some fans and media members, but the Blues have no reason to apologize.

They have used their efficient style to win all but two games this season and boast a 13-point lead in the English Premier League heading into the home stretch. They are undefeated since Jan. 1 and would clinch the league title Sunday with three games to spare, assuming they beat 12th-place Crystal Palace at home.

Opposing fans chanted “Boring, boring Chelsea” last week, as the team scored just two goals in three games and sat back to preserve its victories. Chelsea has been criticized for its lack of pretty passing.

Manager Jose Mourinho shrugs off the critics.

“Maybe the future of football is a beautiful green grass carpet without goals. And in that beautiful grass pitch, the team with more ball possession wins the game,” Mourinho said, responding to the fans’ chants. “Sometimes we speak about boring, and you consider boring a team that scores as many goals as we do. But you don’t consider boring a team that has 70 percent of the ball possession and cannot win the game.”

Others have come to Chelsea’s defense.

“It’s absolute nonsense,” Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville said during Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Leicester. “People call the Kevin Keegan Newcastle team of 1996 entertaining — no one remembers them now.

“People remember winners. You never go through a whole season brilliant.”

Jamie Redknapp, also with Sky Sports, added: “People talk about boring Chelsea. The only thing boring is that no one has challenged them this year.

“Manchester City got to New Year’s Day level on points, and they’ve just gone boom and hit a brick wall. Chelsea have gone powering on, and that’s been the only boring thing about it.”

Chelsea is expected to win its first title in five years Sunday. Champagne is surely on ice, as the Blues are undefeated at home. It has been 33 years since Crystal Palace won at Chelsea, and, other than being a spoiler, Crystal Palace doesn’t have much to play for having already avoided relegation.

“It’s a good game for Chelsea because we’ve achieved our objective [avoiding relegation],” Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew said. “Our players have lost a little focus. At this level, 2 percent less focus is enough to lose a game. I hope on Sunday we’ll get back the tough edge we had when we played Sunderland and Manchester City. Our victory over City was probably the most satisfying result I can remember as manager.

“We did everything almost perfectly and got a bit of luck. We will need that against Chelsea. I expect Jose to get Chelsea over the line [win the title] but I don’t want him to do it against me on Sunday.”

He dismissed the notion of Chelsea being boring.

“Chelsea have entertained us,” Pardew said. “Certainly for the first half of the season, they were the best team by some distance. Nobody said then they were boring. Recently there has been a little bit more ‘let’s not lose’ mentality, and I get that. When you are making sure [of winning the title] you start not being as flamboyant. You have to admire Jose’s functionality.”

On the bottom end of the table, seven teams are battling to avoid being among the three relegated: Burnley (26 points), Queens Park Rangers (27), Sunderland (30), Leicester (31), Aston Villa (32), Hull City (34) and Newcastle (35).

▪ MLS attendance: Through four home games, Orlando City ranks second in MLS with an average attendance of 39,328. Seattle leads with 40,067. New York FC is third (28,351), followed by Montreal (25,245) and Los Angeles (23,276). The MLS average is 20,820.

▪ Strikers: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers were 2-2-0 and in third place in the NASL entering the weekend. Joe Angulo and Leo Moura each have two goals, and Victor “PC” Giro, who was on loan from Corinthians, signed a two-year deal.

Who’s leading

MLS: East — New England and DC (14), New York (13), Columbus (11), Chicago (9). West — Vancouver (16), Dallas (14), Seattle (13), Los Angeles (12), Houston (10).

NASL: New York (8), Tampa Bay (7), Fort Lauderdale, Indianapolis and Atlanta (6).

English Premier League: Chelsea (80), Manchester City and Arsenal (67), Man U (65), Liverpool and Spurs (58).

La Liga: Barcelona (84), Real Madrid (82), Atletico Madrid (75), Valencia and Sevilla (69).

Serie A: Juventus (76), Lazio (62), Roma (61), Napoli (56), Sampdoria (51).

Ligue 1: PSG (71), Lyon (68), Monaco (62), ASSE (60), Marseille (57).

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (76), Wolfsburg (61), Monchengladbach (57), Bayer (55), Schalke (42).

On the tube

Sunday: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (8:30 a.m., NBCSN), Chievo vs. Inter (8:55 a.m., BeInSport USA), Tottenham vs. Manchester City (11 a.m., NBCSN), Kansas City vs. Chicago (5 p.m., ESPN2), NYC vs. Seattle (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1).

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