The Blue Wave of Possibility: How will Chelsea line-up next season?
At least I hope so! Cech has been a fantastic servant for Chelsea, but already at just 21 the Belgian is a better goalkeeper. A Champions League final and Liga BBVA title to his name, Courtois is more than capable now of playing in the Premier League, and with Mourinho saying he will be coming back after the World Cup, reports of Cech’s departure from Stamford Bridge are ever growing. Both keepers played behind solid defences this season, conceding just 24 goals each. Despite this, Courtois kept 20 clean sheets to Cech’s 16, and made 60 saves compared to Cech’s 52. It’s safe to say Cech is a Chelsea legend, but from a personal perspective, I’d rather play Courtois and not risk losing someone who is potentially the next 15 years as Chelsea goalkeeper.
Having played the majority of last season at left back for Chelsea, and slowly edging out club legend Ashley Cole over the course of the season, the summer rumours look like they’ll push Azpilicueta back across into his favoured right hand side. Ivanovic had a good season, but ask around and he immediately becomes one of the weak links in the squad. The Spaniard has shown himself to be a top signing since moving from Marseille, and at just 24 years old, he has plenty more years in front of him. A ferocious player, and one that very few wingers want to play against, because defensively solid, he’s always at your heels the second you get the ball. Going forward he’s also a nuisance. Not a great end product, but always happy to bomb on giving defenders one more thing to think about.
Now 28 years old, Cahill had arguably his best season in a Chelsea shirt last campaign, and alongside John Terry, the pair looked almost unbeatable at times. Cahill won the most aerial duels in the league last season, and only second to Vincent Kompany on % of aerial duels won, shows just how fantastic the England centre back was last time around, and all Chelsea fans will be hoping he can do it once again, in a season where Chelsea are lining up as big favourites. On a personal note, the thing I love about Gary Cahill is his composure on the ball, something only a handful of centre backs possess.
Five years older than Cahill, his centre back partner also had one of his best seasons in a Chelsea shirt last season. Like Cahill, Terry has also got a lot more comfortable on the ball in his latter years. Many wanted JT to come out of retirement for this summer’s World Cup, but from a Chelsea perspective, the fact he didn’t and stopped playing for England will certainly prolong his club career for a few more years yet. Next season will be a tough one for JT, as potentially one of the only experienced players left in the squad. Already Ashley Cole and life long friend Frank Lampard have left this summer, and with Courtois’ arrival getting closer, Cech could be the next old head shown the door by Mourinho.
With Ashley Cole gone, a left back is going to be right up there on Mourinho’s shopping list, and Luis looks to be the number one contender. Having been at Atletico since 2010, every summer they’ve had to fight away the competitors for the left back, but this year, after a magnificent season in Atletico’s title winning year, the size of the bids have increased, and £20million looks where Atletico just couldn’t turn down. 28 years old isn’t ideal, but he possesses all the abilities to be a modern day full back, bombing forward whenever possible, and hopefully putting in some of the balls he did for Atletico, for Diego Costa.
Having moved back to Stamford Bridge in January, Nemanja Matic has been a revelation. Sitting just in front of the back four, Matic has been 100x better than Mikel ever was in that area of the pitch. Stand out performance at the Etihad made it a real shame that he was cup tied for the Champions League, but next year, the 6”4 Serbian will be available for all competitions, and will be a force for all to see. Undoubtedly, Matic will start in the midfield, but I’d also like to see someone else come in as decent back up for the actual holding role, not a general central midfield player.
After signing for Chelsea just last week for a fee believed to be in the region of £30million, Fabregas has to be a starter in the side. Mourinho had always favoured a 4-3-3, and with the central midfielders now available to him, this formation at Chelsea is definitely playable. The man with the killer through balls can be a massive hit again back in the Premier League, this time, across the other side of London. The reaction of Arsenal fans all over twitter has made this deal just that little bit sweeter for Chelsea fans, and if Fabregas can show some of his top form at the Bridge, he could become a fans favourite very quickly.
A tough campaign last year for Oscar, after not having a summer break since 2011, saw his performances deteriorate towards the latter end. Once again, with the World Cup, he still won’t have a full summer off, but I’m hoping he can show the league again how good of a footballer he is. Having played the majority of his Chelsea career in the “number 10” role, he’s always mentioned his want to drop back into a standard, central midfield position. Having bulked up a bit since moving to England, and his defence abilities matching his attacking abilities, he would be quite adapt at playing in a two alongside Fabregas, and the thought of this midfield trio should excite every Chelsea fan, and scare the rest of the league.
Arguably the main man in the side, the man who strikes fear into the eyes of the opposition, Eden Hazard will most probably be deployed on the left hand side of a front three. With bags of pace and trickery to match, Hazard made the most successful take on’s out of anyone in the league. Turning into a fans favourite at Stamford Bridge was not difficult when he rejected half of the Premier League to sign for the “winners of the Champions League”, but yet to win the Premier League, Hazard will be desperate too this season.
Having joined Chelsea from under the noses of London rivals Tottenham last summer, Willian had a fantastic first season in England. Struggled in the first few months, adapting to the pace of the game compared to Russia and Ukraine, but once this wasn’t an issue, his performances took a massive rise in the second half of the season. With the way Chelsea set up last year using a counter attack, Willian’s pace was key in his game, and the same will be key again this season, if a similar style is adopted.
The big man who looks all but set to be a Chelsea player now that Spain are out of the World Cup. The transfer that has been rumbling on for a while now looks so close to being done, and Costa has all the potential to be the man up top who solves Chelsea’s attacking woes. A big, physical striker, with 27 La Liga goals for Atletico last season is such an exciting prospect and I for one can’t wait for him to pull on the Chelsea blue next season.