Chelsea Premier League Preview
Players In: Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar, Thorgan Hazard
Players Out: Jacob Mellis, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Jose Bosingwa, Romelu Lukaku (loan – WBA), Kevin De Bruyne (loan – Werder Bremen), Patrick Van Aanholt (loan – Vitesse Arnhem),
The physical stature of the three main signings: Hazard, Oscar and Marin would probably equate to one Didier Drogba and it is a clear signal of intent to change the way the club play. These three players combined with Juan Mata and the impressive Ramires will look to up the tempo and deliver Fernando Torres’s preferred speedy football. If they can get it right and few would doubt players of their ability then Chelsea could be devastating.
With Torres almost certain to start in a focal number 9 role and Mata, Hazard, Marin, Ramires, Sturridge and Malouda fighting it out on the wings Di Matteo somehow has to find a place for the 34 year old Frank Lampard ahead of at least one of Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel and Oscar. Lampard’s role behind Drogba was one of the most effective dovetailing partnerships in the Premier League for years but it is hard to imagine Lampard playing that advanced a role now that he is reaching his twilight years.
At the time of writing Cheslea still need a right back and look a little weak at the back with John Terry in the treatment room far more regularly than he used to be. No doubt a signing will be made at right back and Di Matteo will have some squad to choose from.
The makeup of the dressing room will be extremely interesting for a neutral after AVB’s attempted revolution last year. Di Matteo has been giving the financial backing that Villas-Boas wasn’t so perhaps the revolution will finally occur. Don’t expect it to be televised though, this one will play out in the papers if last year is anything to by.
First game analysis:
Chelsea had the most straight forward performance and win of the big boys in the Premier League, after two early Wigan mistakes effectively handed Chelsea the game. Eden Hazard and Juan Mata interchanged positions freely on Saturday and the addition of Oscar makes a very tasty midfield, although all three want to fill the ‘number 10′ role. Hazard survived Gary Caldwell, got two assists and generally looked like he is worth £32 million. Torres looked sharp and the players Di Matteo (Abramovich) has signed over the summer will compliment his game. With their summer splurge their squad is a match for any English side and I wouldn’t rule out a challenge to the top two.
Chelsea look well equipped to make a real challenge this season but if their star signings don’t click instantly then they could already be off what is sure to be a breathtaking pace by the time it all starts to work. Luckily for them their opening five games are very favourable. If they can use these games to gel as a team then they could be a contender.
Prediction: 3rd/4th followed by a relentless pursuit for Pep Guardiola