Summer Ins and Outs:
In: Andre Schurrle (£18m, Bayer Leverkusen), Marco van Ginkel (£8m, Vitesse Arnhem), Mark Schwarzer (free, Fulham), Cristian Cuevas (undisclosed, O'Higgins)
Notable Out: Yossi Benayoun (released), Paulo Ferreira (released), Ross Turnbull (free, Doncaster), Thibaut Cortois (loan, Atletico Madrid), Jeffrey Bruma (£2.5m, PSV), Marko Marin (loan, Seville), Patrick van Aanholt (loan, Vitesse Arnhem), Oriol Romeu (loan, Valencia), Florent Malouda (free, Trabzonspor), Gael Kakuta (loan, Vitesse Arnhem), Thorgan Hazard (loan, Zulte Waregem)
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What to expect from 2013/14:
With Jose Mourinho back on the Chelsea throne, it’s hard to expect anything. The guy is as unpredictable as anyone but has constantly delivered results. Mourinho has shown he can win and he had great success last time around in London. He won back to back Premier League titles and created a Chelsea team that went to the Champions League final the same season he left the club. I don’t anticipate lesser results this time around.
Chelsea have also strengthened their squad. Andre Schurrle is an exceptional attacking midfielder who can provide strength, speed, and work ethic to the Chelsea squad. The Blues are also getting Michael Essien back after a season long loan to Real Madrid, where the Ghanaian midfielder returned to form after a long injury spell. The Blues haven’t lost anyone from their rotation and seem as solid as ever. There are some concerns at striker and in the central defense, but neither seems fatal. Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, and Romelu Lukaku can probably provide enough scoring power for Chelsea to complement their strong midfield. If John Terry stays healthy and Chelsea keep David Luiz, their defense should be good enough and deep enough for a title challenge. It helps they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
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Players to watch:
Romelu Lukaku – Lukaku scored 17 goals last season for West Brom and can be lethal, especially with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Frank Lampard, and Andre Schurrle behind him. It would be interesting to see if he gets enough playing time, but my bet would be that he does.
Andre Schurrle – Schurrle is certainly a good player and it seems he is built for the Premier League. He is a great finisher and can play on the left wing better than anyone else on the squad. Mourinho has said he plans on moving Juan Mata to the right wing, so I wouldn’t be surprised seeing both of them on at the same time. Schurrle would be a good bet if he can earn a starting spot week in and week out.
David Luiz and John Terry – There certainly are questions in the defense right now. The key things to look at is whether or not Mourinho trusts David Luiz in the back, since he has been prone to make mistakes. Another thing to follow is John Terry’s health and conditioning. Both can be solid fantasy options if they can earn the time on the field.
Another thing to follow closely is who will be the midfield starters. Between Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Lampard, Essien, Schurrle, John Obi Mikel, Ramires, and even youngster Kevin de Bruyne making a run at a rotation spot, it’s hard to know who’s going to earn a consistent run on the pitch. From a fantasy point of view, the only one I can fully trust right now is Juan Mata and possibly Eden Hazard; everyone else will get playing time but I don’t know if it will be consistent enough to rely on every week.
With such a creative and proven midfield, I can’t see Chelsea outside of the top four. With Mourinho in charge, I am fully confident Chelsea will win the title. Manchester City have lacked consistency and Manchester United are just not as good without Sir Alex. The Premier League title is coming to Stamford Bridge.
Do you think Chelsea will win it all?