Last season was both upsetting and exhilarating for Chelsea fans. Two managers with two styles. AVB and his fast flowing attacking football and Di Matteo who favoured the parking the bus option whilst playing a number of older players. Chelsea suffered the worst league performance under Abramovich’s ownership whilst also wining both the Champions League and The FA Cup. Delight and Misery, I’m sure the majority of fans would rather win the Champions League than maintain pressure on the Premier League for one season but now the glory has come the pressure is on to keep up with the pace of the Manchester Clubs. If Chelsea can keep the old guard at ease whilst reforming the squad with a new layer of dynamic youngsters the team may be well on their way to regaining the Premier League. It will also be evident that international teams will be more effective this year to breaking down the parked bus method which helped Chelsea clinch the Champions League. If Di Matteo can successfully combine the new and old this season could be a pleasant one for Chelsea fans.
With Drogba finally calling it a day for Chelsea how will they intergrate their new signings with the veteran players that have so long lived this team. The only other prominent member of the team to have left so far is Bosingwa who ran out of contract and moved across London to local rivals QPR. These may be a nuisance but with the injection of several new players the team should see a welcome change.
Hazard has got to be one of the most interesting signings of this summer with both fans and teams in disarray as to where he would be going. But after lots of debating and frantic tweeting it was agreed that he would sign for Chelsea for £32 million. His flair-filled attacking play will aim to add to Chelsea’s attacking line up. Hazard and Mata would make a incredible pair to play off the striker and encourage the team to play creatively high up the pitch. Add to this his skillfull dribbling and exciting tricks and fans can be sure to be deeply entertained by Hazard in the coming season. Di Matteo will probably favour Mata at the beginning of the season by allowing him more versatility whilst Hazard gets used to the physical side of the premier league. Once he has, however, his previous records make for a very exciting addition to the premier league.
Marin, the small tricky playmaker from Werder Bremen finally makes his big money move. He could be seen as an alternative to Modric who failed to sign last year. He is a player that I feel Chelsea have lacked for several years. The other midfielders already at Chelsea, Essien, Mikel and Lampard will struggle to match the creative influence Marin will have on the team. But as he is relatively small and lightweight it may take Marin some time to adjust to the premier league. As with all players if he can break through this initial barrier he will thrive off the solidity of the Chelsea team that is already evident. Similarly to Modric he may suffer in the first season as he takes time to adapt but once conquered the skill of Marko Marin will show.
Oscar, the attacking midfielder signed from International in Brazil. Having only seen Oscar in a few international games I am unable to fully estimate his talent. However, he looks to be one of the most promising young talents in all of world football. Both his creativity and slight muscle will prove vital traits to cement himself in the crowded Chelsea first team. It will be interesting to watch him evolve in the coming season but will he ever match his £14 million+ transfer fee, I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out.
Plan A: The first tactic will be the same as every season; try to create the free-flowing Barca-esque football that Abramovich desires. However, victorious the parking the bus/ backs to the wall method, that saw off Munich and Barcalona, Di Matteo will remit to playing a more expansive version of the 4-2-3-1 without succumbing to the tactical naivety of AVB’s reign. With added signings this formation could see the front four playing with not main positions and all chipping in to the attacks.
Plan B: If the new tactics don’t work then Chelsea will have to resort to the same plan for every season, when the manager is in job-killing danger of not winning anything. Aim to keep it tight at the back, call on the leadership of Terry and Lampard, and hoof it up to Drogba….. oh wait…. well we’ll have to wait and see.
Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole
Mikel, Lampard (C)
Hazard, Mata, Strurridge
Notes: Strurridge is inter changeable with Bertrand and Hazard and Mata are very similar so Di Matteo may prefer Marin or Oscar alongside one of then other two.
Lessons From Last Season
Chelsea will need to fight it out against the big boys this season- having conceded a whopping 17 goals in 10 games against the top 5! However this may have been down to the suicidal high line that didn’t fit when AVB tried to implement it at Chelsea.
Despite the Champions League and FA Cup wins last season the team will be undergoing a transition. The rebuilding has begun with the new signings and some older players leaving but will Di Matteo see it through. If it works they could be challenging for the title if not… then 5th place may be a realistic option.