Paul Canoville names two players whose presence would be key to Chelsea's Premier League title hopes

Blues icon Paul Canoville insisted that Chelsea could have clinched a Premier League title if two key wing-backs had not suffered from injury problems.

The Blues finished the season in third place, 19 points behind eventual champions Manchester City and 18 points behind Liverpool.

This shows the incredible consistency of the two leading teams and what it would take for Chelsea to challenge for the title next season.

Overcoming a 19-point difference is a mountain to climb, but it is arguably far from impossible for Chelsea.

The Premier League’s official Twitter recently posted a video of the teams’ positions on the table after each match week.

UEFA MUST STOP! NEW CHAMPIONS LEAGUE COULD RUIN FOOTBALL

This is also a reminder that Chelsea were still in the lead until match week 14 in November before losing their ground in December.

It is obviously not a coincidence that Chelsea began dealing with a lot of injuries at the time.

Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Canoville is even convinced that Chelsea should have been able to keep their top spot if it was not for the two first-choice wing-backs’ lengthy absences, in particular.

“We [could have] won if Ben Chilwell and Reece James had not been injured,” the former Blues winger wrote in response to the Premier League’s tweet.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Chilwell and James’ fitness could determine Chelsea’s season

Chilwell suffered the anterior cruciate ligament injury, which ruled him out until the final matchday, in November, while James missed a total of 19 games through several injury absences in the second half of the season.

Chelsea dealt with several other injury problems, but Chilwell and James’ arguably had the biggest impact.

To be fair, it would have been difficult for Chelsea to compete with Manchester City and Liverpool’s consistency regardless of the injuries, but Tuchel’s men would likely have stayed in the title race until the end.

This illustrates how Chelsea heavily rely on the wing-back pair and suggests that their fitness will be key to their title hopes next season.

Keep up to date with all the latest Chelsea news and opinion by following The Chelsea Chronicle’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.