Chelsea Season Preview: A Fan's point of view.
Countdown for the English season has begun, and these last few days will go by at an excruciatingly slow pace.
For Chelsea fans, considering the customary change which takes place at Stamford Bridge almost every summer. This summer has been no different. The guard has changed again – but this time it has changed for good. From the much hated Rafael Benitez or “The Interim One” to much loved Jose Mourinho “The Special One”.
With Mourinho instilled back at the helm, the first priority would be to win the Premier League trophy, wrestle and bring back the trophy down south of England. It has now been three seasons since the Blues last won the Premier League, of course the Champions League has finally been won and Chelsea have established themselves as an elite at the international stage but the Premier League should still be a very important trophy for the London side. With all three top sides starting the season with new managers, The Special One has enough experience to handle and cope with frenzy media and mind games.
Squad Analysis : How competent is the Chelsea first-team roster?
Players IN: Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen, £18m), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse Arnhem £9m), Mark Schwarzer (Chelsea, free).
Players OUT: Jeffrey Bruma (PSV, £2.5m), Yossi Benayoun (released), Florent Malouda (released), Ross Turnbull (released), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid, loan), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Oriol Romeu (Valencia, loan), Paulo Ferreira (retired).
Having already added Andre Schurrle, Van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer to the roster, let us assume Chelsea sign Rooney on the Deadline day, and take a look at the Chelsea line-up.
Tactics and possible starting XI’s:
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Lukaku.
Chelsea are well covered in this department, with Cech expected to continue between the posts, but unlike past seasons he has an competion in newly signed ex-Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer, pushing him for the starting eleven spot. And the fact that the club offered Hilario a one-year extension, hints that the management trusts him to serve as a back-up for at least another year. Thibaut Courtois the heir to Petr Cech’s throne has already been identified and he is unbelievable even at a tender age of 20. On loan at Atletico Madrid, in his second season, the Belgian kept 18 clean-sheets in La Liga which won him the Zamora Trophy for keeping the most clean-sheets. Chelsea had an option to recall him to Stamford Bridge this season, but they resisted the temptation to do the right thing, loaning him for one more season, which is a crucial year for every player with the World Cup in Brazil looming around the corner. Until then, it’s Petr who’d guard the posts for the Chelsea, with Schwarzer and Hilario being his backups.
After extending his stay for a year more, Ashley Cole is a sure-shot starter unless his reoccurring ankle injury doesn’t take its toll on the English left-back who starts his eighth season with the Blues.
The other left-back in the squad is Chelsea academy product Ryan Bertrand, who has come leaps and bounds since his Champions league final debut. Ryan has performed well when called upon, and can serve as an able back-up.
In an ideal scenario you’d know, Chelsea have arguably the one of the best collection of center-backs in David Luiz, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic who, it seems will be predominantly used as an right-back this season, which throws up an interesting scenario with Tomas Kalas seemingly joining the first team squad and John Terry being told he isn’t guaranteed a first team place.
So Jose has 4 CBs and Ivanovic to choose from, for the two CBs slots. Chelsea haven’t been able keep lead against weaker opposition for example last season, the games againsts QPR and Reading to name a few. The first thing which Mourinho instils into his teams is solid defence, he builds his teams performance on them. Hope he fixes the defensive issue which have persisted since Andre Villas-Boas took over at Chelsea in 2011.
This was an area of concern for the Blues in the last decade or so, until one fine day when the Blues signed the Spanish right-back César Azpilicueta from Marseille. Though initially found it difficult to get a game under his belt but once he established himself, went on to make 32 appearance for Chelsea in his first season.
The other right-back option in the squad is the Serbian, although he’s more than just a option here. Firmly established himself as one of the leaders in this young Chelsea squad, Brana has been a cornerstone to Chelsea’s recent success at the European stage. Scoring six goals this season as an CB/RB is just incredible which makes you realize that how important he is for this current Chelsea setup; defensively as well as attacking wise.
As things stand, Chelsea have two defensive-minded midfielders in Mikel and Essien, with Ramires, Lampard having featured there in past season under Villas Boas, Benitez and Di Matteo, they could be an option as part of the double pivot or two man midfield. With Romeu being loaned out to Valencia for a season. Leaves Chelsea with John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien who is returning from stint at Real Madrid. Its upto Jose Mourinho the way he chooses to set the team up tactically, a double pivot where in one defensive midfielder can be paired with a ball playing midfielder or a box-to-box player or an inverted triangle in a 4-3-3 system; where he’ll have to select one out of Mikel and Essien, with Ramires, Lampard or Van Ginkel.
With Van Ginkel showing great signs of maturity with each passing game in the pre-season, there is feeling which states that this kid is ready to step up big time. The other options for the manager in worst case scenario are; David Luiz who is very capable of playing any kind of role in the center of the park, though Jose has already stated that he views the Brazilian as an defender only. Kevin De Buryne Oscar and the Dutch youngster Nathan Ake being the other options who can fill in when asked too.
Attacking Midfield and Wingers:
Two seasons back, Chelsea only had the diminutive Spainard Juan Mata whom they had accuried from Valencia, as their lone option for the no.10 position. As Chelsea carved for more creativity, they went on to buy all the creativity the world of football had to offer in those two transfer windows. With the arival of Hazard and Oscar last summer, Mata was eased of some creative burden as the trio shared it equal amounts and mesmerized the world audience with their finest touches, swift passing and eye for some spectacular goals. The trio scored a wooping 36 goals and assisted 42 times, add to that Victor Moses had an stop start season. Starting well and ending it poorly though, the Nigerian had some reason to rejoice having scored 4 times in 5 Europa league games for Chelsea in their Cup winning trimph.
Chelsea’s love for creative players was once again on display when they bought Kevin De Buryne from Genk and loaning back to them, and then sending him on loan to the Bundesliga side – Werder Bremen, where he flourished, making Jose Mourinho to keep him at Chelsea instead of loan him back. Another long time Chelsea target Andre Schurrle was signed this summer from German side Bayer Leverkusen.
At the final count Chelsea have about six players who are either capable of playing the role; three man behind the striker (4-2-3-1) or as an wide forward (4-3-3).
The last kick that won Chelsea the Champions league, was the last moment you saw Didier Drogba in Blue of Chelsea. Ever since then, the man has left Chelsea in the hands of a of guy who is still solving his own misery after making a move two years back. Starting the season with finishes such, which reminded of his old self, but midway through the season goals dried up, the pressure mounted and an manager got sacked, a new manager was appointed, he started scoring again and helped the club in winning the Europa League, though is it still a mystery about whom I m talking about? Yes – It’s Fernando Torres. Scoring 23 times for Chelsea last season, still the man isn’t consistent enough to lead the line for Top club like Chelsea.
Though, all is not lost, not just yet. In comes Romelu Lukaku, going out on loan to West Brom could be the best decision the club and players agent could have taken. It couldn’t get any better. Starting 20 games for the Baggies, Romelu scored 17 times last season.
Encouraging isn’t it?! He has earned a well deserved return to the club.
Not to forget, Demba Ba scored some spectacular goals (vs City and United both FA Cup)
But when any club that has the ambition to challenge for top honors in Europe, there has to be at least three world class centre forwards. United have four at the moment. While, City already have at least 4 players capable of leading the line on their own.
That is where the need to sign a top forward like Rooney arises. With Cavani, Falcao all sold for top money, Rooney seems to be the only achievable forward for an reasonable price. As things stand at the moment Chelsea have two bids rejected for the English forward, but Mourinho still seems to be confidant on landing Wayne Rooney this summer.
Key player: Eden Hazard
Keep an eye on: Romelu Lukaku
Where I think they finish: 1st
Do let me know what you guys think about our up and coming season. Happy with the signings so far? Rooney? Rivals? KTBFFH!