Premier League Preview Number 1: Chelsea

14 August 2009


Biggest Ins: Yuri Zhirkov on the left side of midfield should give Chelsea a steady, reliable option. Ross Turnbull will make a competent backup to Petr Cech. Daniel Sturridge could play the super-sub role off the bench when Chelsea needs a late goal, but I see him as a fringe forward.

Biggest Outs: Absolutely no one. Everyone who left were on the extreme outside fringe. Scott Sinclair, Franco Di Santo, and Michael Mancienne went off on loan to gain game experience.

Easiest Month: August. Chelsea could easily have the best stretch of four games coming out of the gate. After hosting Hull City, Chelsea have a tricky tie at Sunderland. A trip to Fulham awaits before hosting Burnley at the end of the month. 10-12 points are possible.

Toughest Month: November. After hosting Manchester United and Wolves, Chelsea travel to Arsenal. At best, this is a five point month. At worse, this is a three point month.

Five Questions About Chelsea This Season
1) Will Carlo Ancelotti adapt his midfield diamond if it does not work early in the season? During preseason, it was effective on narrow pitches; even narrower that most Premier League clubs have. During the Community Shield, that diamond was exposed. If Ancelotti is a one trick pony, expect him to be the next Scolari.
2) Can Joe Cole come back at full fitness to secure the right side of the midfield? If he can, Chelsea have no concerns.
3) Can Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba work together up front? Guus Hiddink showed it could work. I think Ancelotti will get it to work as well. I also think a little friendly competition between the two to see who can score the most goals could get interesting.
4) Who starts alongside John Terry at center back? If Ricardo Carvalho is healthy, I think it has to be him. Alex is a very strong option, but I rate Carvalho higher.
5) Will the age of the starting core and their nagging injuries be a hindrance come the end of the season? John Terry’s back is failing him, while Carvalho seems to lately always be on the injury table. Joe Cole is coming off a knee injury, and I always question how a player will be coming back from one of them. Michael Ballack is just old while both Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are north of thirty.

My Ultimate Reality: Full disclosure, I am a Chelsea supporter. I just feel that Chelsea haven’t lost any key pieces while Manchester United lost Ronaldo and Liverpool lost Alonso. I do worry about the age of Chelsea’s core, along with yet another new manager. However, these players know how to play with each other. Zhirkov I think will end up a flop at Chelsea and Malouda will be starting on the left in no time. Chelsea’s schedule balance is also very favorable because other than November, there are no other major high/low points. It will be nip and tuck all season long, but in the end I think Chelsea will win the title with two games to spare.


LS August 14, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

Ancelotti should be able to adapt unless he develops a stubborn streak. Milan played a formation well-suited to Serie A and Champions League. He seemed to alternate between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1 depending what personnel were available. His recent lack of success at AC Milan was due to no new young talent being brought through. Instead of allowing Courcuff to get some experience, they brough in Beckham to sell shirts. That's a simplistic overview but I don't see AC winning Serie A this year either.

Chelsea have as good a shot at winning it as Liverpool and Manchester United. I still think United are the team to beat but I'm biased. :)

LS August 14, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

Uhhh...that should read Gourcuff...sorry about the typo

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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