When he moved to west London from Lyon in a £24m deal, Chelsea won 10 and drew one of their first 11 games and went on to clinch the title by eight points. Essien believes Jose Mourinho's current crop are just as good.
"I do keep watching the Premier League. Chelsea are playing really well and are at the top, it will be difficult to overtake them," he said.
"When I went there, we were very strong, and we won a lot of games and the title. I can see this team is as strong as when I first went to Chelsea. They are playing very good football and have very good quality players there.
"I still keep in contact with Jose. We talk a bit about football and I will tell him that I am watching and they are doing well."
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