After Jose Mourinho’s quote terming Chelsea as the ‘Little Horses’ last season, where he also said that they cannot be termed as contenders, this year would be very interesting to watch as the Blues step forward for a campaign where they are first favourites to lift the trophy. Mourinho said last season that Chelsea would fight for this season’s title with a few critical signings enhancing this squad.
Last season went trophyless for the Blues as they struggled to accommodate the styles of Torres, Eto’o and Ba with the trio scoring few goals in the league. Mourinho made work rate and defensive coaching his main priority last season as he taught the likes of Hazard, Schurrle and Willian the crucial art of tracking back and defending. In the latter part of the season, the Blues were criticised for playing over-defensive football, so much that they struggled while playing attacking football against the weaker teams that look to defend. What will the 2014-15 season hold for the Blues?
Chelsea have made three top signings that would affect the first team in the form of Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis. These were three positions that were inadequate for Chelsea last year as Mata was a misfit in Mourinho’s hardworking system and ultimately left the club, leaving Chelsea without a natural number ten. Oscar’s work-rate was key for Chelsea’s defensive strategy later in the season, but Cesc Fabregas’ arrival adds a natural playmaker to the squad, as he is a proven performer capable of playing deeper as well as a number ten.
Diego Costa’s arrival was a no brainer as Chelsea were desperate for an in-form addition to their striking department while Filipe Luis’ arrival cost Chelsea close to £20 million, a fee that is a touch higher for a defender soon to be 29. Luis, though is a very consistent defender and was a vital cog of last year’s proud performers and La Liga winners Atletico Madrid. As of now Jose Mourinho has made three clinical signings, signing exactly those players whom Chelsea needed. Now, an additional central defender to rotate with Terry or a Right Back to rotate with Azpilicueta (Making Ivanovic the centre back) would be enough to make Chelsea the favourites to win the title. Some may say another central striker is required for rotational purposes, especially as Demba Ba has been sold, but that would only happen if Belgian youngster Romelu Lukaku feels he needs to move away from Chelsea.
Chelsea would most likely play a 4-3-3 formation that is likely to be rotated with a 4-2-3-1. Cesc Fabregas looks set to play the main playmaker’s role meaning Oscar will be the one playing on the right flank or as a substitute for the playmaker’s spot. Oscar has been impressive in a woeful Brazil team performance in the world cup as he occupied various positions on the pitch, mostly playing wide and allowing Neymar to play central. There is a high likelihood of him doing the same in Chelsea allowing Hazard to drift in behind the striker.
Matic and Ramires are set to play the pivot positions unless Mourinho decides to bring in players like Pogba or play Fabregas in the pivot position. There is a rather unlikely chance of Chelsea employing both Oscar and Fabregas in the same line-up along with a traditional winger (Schurrle/Willian) as Mourinho likes the team to have strong balance. But in games where they would need to be ultra-attacking, we can expect Chelsea to play a 4-1-4-1 line-up with Matic sitting back and Oscar and Fabregas dictating play in the middle.
The most likely chelsea lineup to be used:
Courtois(Cech); Azpilicueta(Ivanovic), Cahill(Ivanovic), Terry(Zouma), Luis(Bertrand); Matic(Mikel), Ramires(Fabregas); Fabregas(Oscar), Hazard(Schurrle), Oscar(Willian); Costa(Torres/Lukaku).
Realistically, Chelsea are one top centre back’s signature away from having a squad that can compete on all three major fronts- The Premier League, The Champions League and The FA Cup. With every position on the pitch being fought for by two top class players, the competition in the team will be very high and the quality and depth of the squad will be immense in comparison to rivals like Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool. Only Manchester City would be expected to have similar depth in their squad by the end of the transfer window. We can really expect Chelsea to grab at least one out of the Premier League or The Champions League trophies this season.
As of now, Chelsea are the realistic favourites for the EPL title followed by Manchester City.