By Dan Rock
The more things change the more they stay the same! After what seems like 5 seasons of talk about the changing of the guard at Stamford Bridge, this season actually seems like that is what has happened, but then again, not so much.
If that seems like a contradiction, well it kind of is. We’ve seen two great club servants depart in the close season with Frank Lampard off to ply his trade in the MLS (via the Etihad) and Ashley Cole going to utilise his pace in the more pedestrian environment of Serie A and Roma. However, we’ve also seen the return of an aging war horse with Didier Drogba coming back to the Bridge, in what must surely be a move just to scare the manure out of Arsenal.
The mighty blues seem to be everybody’s pick to win the league this year, which makes some sense when you consider we finished third last year without much of a strikeforce. That shouldn’t be the case this season, with the signings of Diego Costa who has looked very good in pre-season and Drogba added to an already scary array of attacking talent (Hazard, Oscar, Shurlle and Willian) we now look a lot more dangerous (or downright terrifying if you play at the Emirates) in an area where we struggled last season. If Costa can be as good for the best team in London as he was winning the league at Atletico last year, we look a very good bet for the Special One’s 3rd title in charge. The only real question here is can a naturally-cautious but undoubtedly brilliant Mourinho get the most out of those attacking players? The odds look good with Cesc Fabregas (who some seem to think at only 27 is over the hill… are they mad??) who led Barcelona with assists last season and Matic providing the service and shoring up the centre of midfield.
This brings me to the defence you honour. It’s not often a club can say they’ve sold a player for £50m and have strengthened the team, but I’m confident in saying we’ve done that. We managed to somehow con PSG into thinking David Luiz, the skilled but scarily vacant centre-back, was worth that crazy amount of money. We’ve also managed to bring in Filipe Luis (another Atletico player – we buy the best players from the Spanish champions, whereas Liverpool buy all the players from a mid-table Premier League team) to replace Ashley at left back, with means Cesar Azpilicue…er “Dave” can move back to his natural position on the right. That leaves John “Captain, Leader, Legend” Terry alongside one of Ivanovich and Cahill in the centre. That’s arguably going to be the strongest back four in the premier league this year.
Now, that only leaves the most interesting move of the close season, which was the “signing” of a player we already owned. Thibault Courtois has returned from his long, long, loan spell at Atletico Madrid, where he went from promising young goalkeeper to one of the best in the world. He obviously hasn’t come back to sit on the bench so does that spell the end of the Petr Cech era? He’s still a very good goalkeeper, but probably not the player he once was. Rumours abound that he will be on his way out before the end of the transfer window.
However, it wasn’t necessarily all good news on the transfer front, we decided (were forced?) to keep a still misfiring Fernando Torres and sell the definitely talented, but potentially attitude-challenged Romelu Lukaku. That does worry me somewhat though, because the last player we sold for similar reasons, scored a truck-load of goals for the red shade of Merseyside, what is the bet this one does the same for the blue side?
All in all, I’m pretty confident that this will be a stellar year for the Chels, with some form of silverware a must. We’re a very good shout for the Premier League, with City and a revitalised Man Utd being the main threats in my opinion. My top 4 will be Chelsea, City, Man Utd then Arsenal, with Spurs and Liverpool threatening to nearly finish fourth.
I’m really interested to see how we go in the Champions League this year, after last season’s dismal showing, Mourinho needs to galvanise the troops in that competition. As always we’re a big threat in the cup competitions, especially the FA Cup in which we have a great recent record.
I don’t see Abramovich settling for 2 seasons without a trophy, so if this is to be a long term deal with Jose, it’s win or bust.
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