Should be a good one!
The Premier League season is upon us! 3 days are left in the transfer window which does not really concern Chelsea and about 4 days left until the season kicks off on Friday. Normally a preview would come once the transfer window shuts but as far as Chelsea are concerned we can preview the season already.
It’s never a quiet summer at Chelsea Football Club even with a transfer ban. June saw our main player leave in Eden Hazard who left for Real Madrid. Cahill also left who yesterday signed for Crystal Palace. Juventus then came in for Sarri and took him back to Italy. Sometime passed but Cech was then appointed as part of the technical staff and then Lampard was appointed with a plethora of ex players then coming in mostly as backroom staff. The squad then travelled to Dublin and began training and as the summer has progressed Lampard’s squad for the upcoming season has slowly taken shape. Several youth players have left on loan while players like Baker have finally moved on permanently from the club to pursue a proper career. Chelsea played 7 friendlies in pre-season winning 4 and drawing 2 and losing 1 game. Barkley was the standout performer as he scored 4 goals and 3 assists while Mount also impressed with 3 goals and a couple of assists.
It is another change in the backroom staff as Lampard returns to be our manager accompanied by ex player Jody Morris as assistant manager. Jody achieved plenty of success as the Academy manager while both achieved success as players. Eddie Newton and Joe Edwards are promoted from the youth setup while Chris Jones and Hilario are also involved. Ashley Cole and Joe Cole might have returned or be returning while Cech is back and Makelele joins him as part of the youth setup along with ambassadorial roles. Lampard won 20 games last season drew 14 and lost 12. Derby reached the 5th round of the FA Cup losing to Brighton, reached the 4th round of the League Cup losing to Chelsea, and lost in the play-offs to Villa who eventually got promoted. Pre-season has shown that Lampard is focuses on pressing from the front and forcing mistakes out of the opposing team. Lampard’s favoured position seems to be 4-2-3-1 although he has shown that he is able to adapt to what he has with a midfield diamond also being used. The staff both technical and coaching has a nostalgic feel to it and more than anything it should help the fans connect back with the team after some were disenchanted with Sarri’s stint.
Goalkeepers – Kepa Arizzabalaga, Willy Caballero, Jamie Cumming
Defenders – Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Kurt Zouma, Reece James,
Midfielders – Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount
Forwards – Pedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud, Willian, Michy Batshuayi, Kenedy, Pulisic, Tammy Abraham
I left Zappacosta, Tomori, Drinkwater, and Bakayoko out of the squad because it seems that these players will be leaving on loan or permanently over the next few weeks.
As far as goalkeepers are concerned Chelsea are sorted. Kepa is the first choice and proved against Barcelona and the last two friendlies why he is guaranteed to start mostly all of our games. Caballero should be a cup goalkeeper maybe featuring against weaker opposition in the Champions League. Cumming is third choice but should get a game or two in the Carabao Cup or FA Cup.
Our left backs are Alonso and Emerson, and at the moment Emerson is the preferred choice. Emerson is great going forward and has the pace to track back while Alonso is good in the box but has no pace to track back. Emerson starts but Alonso should get plenty of chances to impress. Azpi, and Reece James are our right backs. Reece is still injured but should be back by mid September and then one would assume that he would push Azpi out of the right back position. The friendlies have shown that we lack threat from the right flank and Reece would really up the ante in that regard while also being solid at the back. Azpi is too good to be left on the bench but lacks pace and so I would not be surprised to see him move into central defence or even the left back position. David Luiz, Christensen, Zouma and Rudiger will all be fighting for minutes this season as all our good to great centre backs. Rudiger is still out injured and at the moment Zouma and Luiz seem to be the first choice CB’s but Christensen could squeeze his way in.
First things first whether its a midfield 3 or a diamond Kante is nailed on to start when fully fit. In a two or diamond his parter would be Jorginho or Kovacic. Jorginho and Kovacic have had really good pre-seasons, Jorginho has proved that he isn’t just a Sari player while Kovacic has shown great control on the ball and capability to relieve pressure. These two could be fighting it out to see who starts in the pivot. In a 2-3 midfield one of Mount, Barkley, and RLC would start when all players are fully fit. Barkley and Mount have been neck and neck in pre-season but Barkley would edge out Mount by a fraction to start against United. RLC is out for sometime and will basically be a new signing when he comes back and will probably be first choice to start. Mount and Barkley should split the game time until then and both of them are more than capable at least according to pre-season.
Firstly when it comes to wingers and everyone is fit Hudson-Odoi, and Pulisic would have to be the first choice starters. For now CHO is injured and Willian only just returned to the team and so Pedro and Pulisic should start against United. The forward option is a straight shoot out between Tammy and Michy which Tammy is edging at the moment. Tammy should start agains United but expect all three forwards including Giroud get plenty of chances.
As far as the league is concerned I think we can at least finish 4th. City, Liverpool, and Spurs would be the favourites for the first three places but as we saw last year Spurs are not reliable and Chelsea sneaked into 3rd. It will be tough as Chelsea have lost Hazard who was literally the biggest contributor to our goals. Chelsea really haven’t lost any other major players and we have only strengthened in other areas of the pitch. Our main competitors on paper are Arsenal and United and Chelsea come out on top when you compare the midfields and are similar to United when it comes to defence. Arsenal top the other two teams when it comes to forwards but seriously lack at other areas of the pitch. It won’t be a smooth season and Chelsea will most likely face a period of poor results but at the end we should be more or less around 3rd or 4th.
Super Cup against Liverpool is our first trophy. A one off game is well within Chelsea’s capabilities of winning but a loss should not be too damaging while a win could be a massive boost for the young squad we have. Reaching the quarter’s of the Champions League is a realistic goal and anything beyond that is a bonus with the likes of City, Liverpool, Barca, Real, Juventus all involved. Winning the FA Cup or Carabao Cup or both would be realistic and a good way to close out the season.
I feel like I say this every year but it is going to be one hell of a season. Lampard has shown he is more adaptable than Sarri and so we can see formation changes to tackle different opponents. Replacing Hazard will be more of team goal than any one individuals and we can expect plenty of goals from the wingers and midfielders and hopefully at least one of our forwards can provide 15+ goals. For me the biggest addition will be Reece James and I can’t wait to have him back and fully fit. Emerson and Pulisic have provided threat from the left but once CHO and Pulisic are around with James then both flanks should be providing similar amounts of threat. Pulisic is 20 and so putting too much pressure on him would be nonsensical, if he gets 10+ goals that’s a win for me.
The key point though is that while I do expect good things this season it is a rebuild season without a transfer window with a manager in his second season of management. It is highly important that when the going gets tough and it will that the fans support the players and manager no matter what. No booing players no negativity and just constant support because a lot of these players are young and it is a bit much to put pressure on them. Go in with good expectations but don’t get reduced to reactionary point of views when the going gets tough. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!