Are Chelsea ready for a real tilt at the title? Here's the lowdown on what's new at Stamford Bridge...
Jose Mourinho’s return to English football last season brought the usual touchline drama, plenty of headlines and a few classic moments including away wins at Manchester City and Liverpool. But unusually for Chelsea’s iconic manager, there were no trophies and he had to settle for third place in the Premier League despite topping the table in April. However, this was always the season Mourinho was targeting to get Chelsea back on top. The moment is now.
Mourinho’s moans about his striker situation were a feature of his first year back so it’s no surprise we’ll be seeing a new look forward line at Stamford Bridge with Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and Romelu Lukaku making way for Diego Costa and the familiar face of returning hero Didier Drogba. While one Chelsea legend makes away, another departs as Frank Lampard is replaced by Cesc Fabregas in midfield. Ashley Cole has also left after eight seasons to be replaced by Filipe Luis.
The Chelsea boss will feel he has his world-class striker in Costa, while Fabregas has the playmaking credentials to provide from deep and there are two great goalkeepers at Cobham, too, in the form of Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois. But Mourinho will need the defence to hold firm and John Terry will be as vital as ever. The captain missed just four Premier League games last term and will need to stay fit if Chelsea are to produce the consistency needed to win the title.
Pressure is perhaps the biggest problem facing Chelsea with Roman Abramovich likely to expect immediate results given his summer investment. That means improving their record against poor teams and still beating the best. Of course, taking 12 points from the top two can’t be bettered so Chelsea will need to make up the potential shortfall by punishing the weak. For that to happen, Costa will need to adapt rather better at Chelsea than he did to playing for Spain at the World Cup.
Sky Bet Title odds – 15/8
- Chelsea allowed just 122 opposition shots on target last season, no side managed fewer.
- No player in last season’s Premier League created more chances than Eden Hazard (92).
- The Blues picked up 17 points from losing positions last season, no team in the top division managed more.
Chelsea are my team to beat this year. They should have won it last year. Jose Mourinho made a lot of excuses about them not being ready. They were, they just blew it. They lost a lot of poor games; they lost to Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa – matches where they should be picking up points. Now they’ve added Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, two players who will improve them. They needed a goal-scoring striker last season and Costa will provide that, while Fabregas will chip in as well, and provide plenty of assists. Chelsea have no excuses now, they have the squad to win the title. And I think they will.
Possible Chelsea XI