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On Soccer: Changing Dynamics for England’s Elite Devalue ‘the Double’

It guaranteed, in effect, a form of immortality; even Ferguson, relentlessly focused on what tomorrow might bring, forever scornful of yesterday, recognized that. His first Double, he wrote, was “unforgettable.”

This season, England might yet produce another team worthy of the accolade. With 11 games of the Premier League still to play, Chelsea sits 10 points clear of its nearest rival: not an unassailable lead, not yet, but certainly an intimidating one.

Antonio Conte’s team needs only to beat Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Monday to earn a spot in the semifinals of the F.A. Cup. An imposing list of rivals awaits there — Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City all booked their places over the weekend — but Chelsea will see nothing to fear. Conte’s team has beaten all three already this season. A place among the greats is within its grasp.

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Chelsea teammates congratulated Diego Costa, right, after he scored a goal against West Ham on March 6. Chelsea, which stands atop the Premier League table, can enter the F.A. Cup semifinals with a win against Manchester United on Monday.

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