Teams that win championships rarely make wholesale changes going into the campaign after and after cantering to the Premier League title last season, there’s a very familiar feel to the Chelsea squad bidding to secure back-to-back triumphs.
At the time of writing, aside from the acquisitions of Nathan, Kenedy and Asmir Begovic as back-up goalkeeper, there’s been little activity at Stamford Bridge this summer. And while that could change in the latter stages of the transfer window, Jose Mourinho seems poised to put his faith in the same players that delivered so emphatically last season.
Chelsea still look the strongest team in the league too. Not only do they possess an adaptable set of top quality players, but they have the most tactically astute manager in the division and a winning mentality that was so vital to their cause last season. In Eden Hazard, the Blues arguably possess the league’s standout player too.
Teams often find it tough to rally themselves for another title tilt after winning the competition the year before. But if there’s one manager that’ll keep motivation levels high, it’s Mourinho and with a collection of players the Chelsea coach knows he can trust, they’re going to very difficult to dislodge from the Premier League summit.
Reasons to be Positive
Chelsea are still the best team, simple as that. The Blues have supreme talents in their first XI, depth in almost every facet of the squad and players who will be enriched by the title-winning experience of last season. Plus, as the old saying goes, if it isn’t broken, why try to fix it?
With no sign of major summer acquisitions, Mourinho will be hoping the continuity in his squad will be the foundations for another run at the title. This team is capable of adapting to a variety of circumstances and opposition, are willing to grind results out when necessary and in players like Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, have talents who can turn matches in an instance.
Reasons to be Negative
As aforementioned, there are often problems with motivation when it comes to winning back-to-back titles. Mourinho will need to ensure complacency doesn’t creep into his squad in the early stages of the season, as has been the case with Manchester City’s illustrious players when they’ve won their last two Premier League titles.
One of the best ways to preserve sharpness is with competition for place and new signings are typically the best way to do so. But Mourinho has yet to add any major outfield players of note and there will be a worry amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful that things may get stale. A new centre-back, a left-back and holding midfielder are the areas the Portuguese may look to address.
Key Player: Diego Costa
Although Hazard sprinkled stardust throughout the course of the campaign, the addition of Costa at the point of the attack was key to Chelsea lifting the title. His rumbustious brand of forward play gave the Blues an edge that was lacking in Mourinho’s first season back at the club and the former Atletico Madrid man’s goals saw the Londoners off to a flyer.
With a season in English football in the tank, Costa should be even better in the upcoming term. Radamel Falcao will provide ample support to the Spanish international, so expect even bigger things from Costa in his second crack at the Premier League. If he can up his level again, the Blues could waltz to another championship on the back of his clinical instincts.
Prediction – 1st
At the moment, there’s no team in the Premier League that amalgamates all the qualities needed to win a championship quite like Chelsea and they’ll secure another title triumph under the watch of their tremendous coach.
Hazard is likely to continue improving, Costa, Fabregas and Courtois will be even better and after a summer in which the vast majority of the first team were able indulge in some overdue replenishment, expect Chelsea to hit the front early and stay there. A marquee signing would assist matters, but even in their current state, the Blues have enough.
Expert Opinion – Amadi Thiam (World Soccer Talk)
After securing the title quite handily, the Blues have yet to spend heavily in the summer transfer market, seemingly indicating that they feel the players they currently have are adequate. In recent weeks, Mourinho has calmly asserted his confidence in the team’s solidity. “You are speaking with the manager of the best team in England – we have no fragilities,” he told the press following a 4-2 loss to New York Red Bulls in the International Champions Cup.
Chelsea’s real strength lies in depth. Having stated that both Victor Moses and Bertrand Traore will not be going out on loan, Mourinho is illustrating a true commitment to his current players. And while many are doubting the Colombian’s ability to legitimately contribute, Mourinho has heralded Radamel Falcao’s loan deal as great business. That he should come third in the striker pecking order, behind Diego Costa and Loïc Remy, says quite a lot about the versatility of this Chelsea team.
Overall, Chelsea will look to improve upon last year’s efforts. For some, that means winning all possible silverware, while for others it could simply mean fending off challenges by other Premier League title contenders. I, for one, expect them to repeat as champions of England and also expect them to go at least a round further in the Champions League. Either way, it’s surely an exciting season to come!
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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