Chelsea 2013/2014 Preview

Chelsea win Europa 2013It’s been a disappointing past two seasons in the Barclays Premier League for Chelsea Football Club, as they’ve struggled to keep up with the teams from Manchester.

It’s widely believed things will change this season after a few number of managerial changes at the top, with Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini both out of the picture as coaches of Manchester United and City respectively while Rafael Benitez expectedly left Chelsea, leaving only Arsene Wenger as the only top four manager from last season.

In came in David Moyes (Manchester United), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City) and Jose Mourinho (Chelsea).  The impact these managers will have on their teams will go a long way in determining how much of a success, they will be.

It’s of utmost belief by major British football purists that the arrival of Jose Mourinho has given Chelsea the tag of ‘’favourites’’.

In as much as me being a Chelsea supporter, I beg to differ. Yes, we all know what Mourinho demands of his players but it should also be noted that, it doesn’t guarantee a trophy year in, year out. Ask Real Madrid if in doubt. Every year, the challenges just get tougher coupled with the demands of playing champions league football.

If Jose Mourinho’s second coming is to be a hit just like the first was, he needs to address two key areas of the Chelsea side that is on the decline. The defensive and attacking abilities.

Defence: Chelsea haven’t been strong defensively since the last of Mourinho’s premiership title in 2006 as different players have sought to partner John Terry at the heart of the defence. Between then and now, the club has seen Branislav Ivanovic, Tal Ben Haim, Alex, Khalid Boulahrouz and recently, David Luiz and Gary Cahill have all been brought in to relive the most efficient defensive partnership the club has ever seen. John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho.

Tal Ben Haim and Khalid Bhoularouz didn’t last long at SW6 and Alex looked to have somewhat found a way into the side but injuries and falling out with manager Andre Villas Boas saw him sold off to French champions, PSG. Only Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz and Gary Cahill have stood the test of time so far at the Bridge but still none has been able to nail a permanent shirt at the heart of the defence. Added to all of these, John Terry’s on the decline as injuries in the last 18 months have hampered his qualities, making it more difficult for the team.

When Chelsea first won the Premiership, they conceded the lowest numbers of goals ever, 15. The importance of keeping tight at the back cannot be emphasized enough and if you’re to check out the other times the team won the league, which were in 2005/6 and 2010/11 they conceded 22 and 32 goals respectively, the lowest in the league (22) and second best defence (32) after Manchester United. Yes, their defensive abilities was bettered by United but their attacking prowess was second to no other team which nicely ushers me into the second component of a championship winning season.

Attack: Since the Since the 2009/10 season when Didier Drogba scored 29 league goals to emerge as the league’s top scorer, Chelsea have gone three seasons without any of its strikers notching up to 12 league goals in a single season. In that time, they’ve had Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge and Demba Ba. All with the exception of Sturridge have at one point in recent times emerged as one of the deadliest marksmen in the league. The decline in the fortunes of strikers at the Bridge has seen the midfield and defence come up with their own share of goals as the ever reliable Lampard has always gotten into the double figures and Juan Mata beginning to borrow a leaf from the veteran in terms of goalscoring. Having notched a paltry six goals in his first league campaign, the former Valencia man doubled that tally this season and with Lamps 15 league  goals, they accounted for 27 of  the club’s goals in the league  against the duo of Torres and Ba who raked in JUST 10 one better than John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.

No matter how Jose Mourinho sets out his side, if his strikers fail to turn up, you can as well say goodbye to the league. Hence, he needs to do what no other coach has done at Chelsea, get the best out of Fernando Torres and get Demba Ba firing again or hope Romelu Lukaku replicates his form of last season. If Mourinho sees none of these feasible, trust him to get a striker to realise his ambitions.

Chelsea were the league’s second highest scoring team behind champions Manchester United with 75 goals but take away Lamps and Mata’s 27 goals and you have 48 goals. With such a figure, the team would have been out of European places and ended in mid-table. A top striker guarantees you at least 20-26 league goals a season. Add that to what the midfield will come up with and you can be pretty sure it will take something dramatic to not win the league.

Addressing these issues won’t guarantee the title but it makes you a real and genuine contender. I have my reservations over Mourinho’s second coming as the league’s not what it used to be in terms of quality. During his first stint at the bridge, you could say just three teams posed as threats to Chelsea. Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. Although the latter two have been disappointing in recent years, you can’t disagree that they will also have a part to play in deciding where the title rests come May most especially, if Liverpool keeps hold of Luis Suarez or if Arsenal gets the Uruguayan.

Manchester City is another side hungry for the title. Just over a year ago, they were celebrations at the Etihad but they couldn’t ride on that crescendo this past season and with the coming in of Manuel Pellegrini and a hugely talented side, they are amongst the front runners for the title. Not forgetting Totthenham Hotspur and Everton who have been closer to fourth than they’ve ever been. These mid table teams, with the quality of players they have most especially, if Spurs can keep Gareth Bale and add one more quality attacking option, then Chelsea will have a real fight on their hands.

Jose Mourinho has got the personnel to win the title but if he fails to admit the emergence of new powers and under rate David Moyes’ debut season, he will be in for a rude awakening.

 

 

 

 

 

Adeyemi Adesanya
Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan
http://www.halftimeng.com

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