Key Man: Juan Mata
Predicted position: 1st
Although Chelsea have not been short of success in recent years, even under the watchful eye and tactics board of one Rafa Benitez, they haven’t won the league in three seasons and struggled against the likes of QPR who only managed 25 points all season. The last seven months at Stamford Bridge have made a trying time for their support. However, all that changed with Chelsea’s most important transfer this season – the return of Jose Mourinho.
Cynics will cite other top managers not wanting the job or a bit of desperation. But Mourinho and Abramovich’s on again off again relationship will be key to Chelsea’s performance this season.
With many of the famed old-guard still in place but struggling against their own bodies, they’ll need the man who lead them to success in the first place to instill the mental fortitude necessary to avoid breaking hips and arthritis prevents them from completing a pass. Cech and Cole are still at the top of their game, while Lampard, Terry and Essien may battle their own bodies to play a large part in this season’s plans.
The question mark over Chelsea’s squad since the final kick of the 2012 Champions League final has been up front. Yes, Chelsea scored more goals than they have done in their history. Spoiler alert: they weren’t because of their strikers. Fernando Torres scored 22 goals for the club – but only 8 in the league. If anyone can get the best out of him it will be Mourinho. But even Mourinho has his doubts and has spent much of the summer flirting with anyone who could come close to filling Drogba’s boots — including Drogba.
Mourinho has narrowed his search to Wayne Rooney who David Moyes is adamant will not be sold. If Moyes manages to hold on to the nan enthusiast, Mourinho will be fully dependent on Torres and the largest 20 year old in the world. Lukaku impressed last season at West Brom and was also the leading scorer in Chelsea’s pre-season but might be too young to handle the pressure of the ‘big games’.
Whoever does lead the line will not be short of service. With Juan Mata’s beard playing a key role under Mourinho. Eden Hazard and Oscar have had a year to settle and already showed moments of brilliance and will only get better. And if that weren’t enough, Chelsea have only gone and added Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne to the mix. Mourinho’s challenge here will be in selection only. His life’s hard.
They may have scored a fair few goals last season, but also conceded a lot. With Terry sidelined through injury and spite, Benitez tinkered with the partnerships and positioning of the CBs. Expect David Luiz to be key to Mourinho’s defense this season as the Happy One has said himself Chelsea “with David Luiz are a better team”. He was in the back four for 19 clean sheets and had *that* goal line clearance in this summer’s Confederations Cup.
Chelsea will need to start strongly next weekend against “The Tigers” as they have some difficult games early in the season. It’ll be a few months to see if Jose Mourinho can keep his new moniker of The Happy One … but smart money seems to think he will.