Despite being also-rans for a large part of the season, one cannot help but thinking that the Premier League is beginning to open up for Chelsea for the 2009-10 season. While Guus Hiddink may now have left the club, the Blues will certainly fancy their chances under new man Carlo Ancelotti of regaining their title which has alluded them since the departure of Jose Mourinho.
I am off the opinion that had Hiddink been in charge for the entire duration of the 2008-09 season, then Chelsea would have pipped Liverpool and Manchester United to win the title. Under Luis Felipe Scolari, Chelsea were an unorganised shambles and dropped a number of silly points that did not happen under the Dutch tactician.
Chelsea finished the season strongly, winning the FA Cup and looked much more like the organised, disciplined side that we had come to expect under Mourinho. After a significant dip in sales during the Scolari reign, Chelsea shirts started to fly off the shelves once more.
With the news that Manchester United are set to sell Cristiano Ronaldo for a world record fee of £80m, Chelsea’s main title contenders are significantly weakened. Of course, United will have significant transfer funds to spend to reinforce their squad but with Carlos Tevez also set to leave the club, the reality is United are without two of their most attacking players and two men who, along with Wayne Rooney, have been largely responsible for United’s success over the past two seasons. While it is likely United will bring in quality, it will be a largely transitional time for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
In Merseyside, despite their impressive form last season, Liverpool continue to be haunted by financial worries which will likely prevent Rafa Benitez from competing in the fantasy world that is the transfer market this summer. Indeed, a successful transfer window for the Reds may be hanging onto their best players, with both Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso both strongly linked with moves away from Anfield.
In contrast, Chelsea have both a settled side and funds to invest. Among the names linked with a move to Stamford Bridge and Ancelotti’s ex-Milan stars Andrea Pirlo and Alexandre Pato. The latter appears most likely and could provide an exciting spark to a somewhat flat Chelsea side.
With Arsenal also set to invest in new players this summer, it promises to be one of the most exciting Premiership title races for many a year.
Written by Danny Watson, a professional sports writer who blogs about football news.