Season Previews 09/10 – Chelsea



Last Season: 3rd plus an FA Cup win and a Champions League semi final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Yuri Zhirkov, Ross Turnbull, Daniel Sturridge.

Close the door on your way out: Ben Sahar, Franco Di Santo (loan).

Predicted star: If the rumoured diamond formation works out then Frank Lampard will be even better than last season, with more goals and assists. Even if it doesn’t he’ll still find his usual way of being effective. Yuri Zhirkov could have a positive impact, he seems like a left footed Dani Alves – someone who can play anywhere down the flank.

Needs a big year: Joe Cole faces a battle to both get fit and then find a place on the left or behind the front two. When fit and motivated Didier Drogba is still one of the best strikers around, a physical menace who’s a nightmare to play against – it’s just a shame that he picks and chooses the periods where he’s fit and motivated.

Which Drog will show up?

Which Drog will show up?

One to watch: Despite Shevchenko and Pizarro still being on Chelsea’s book, Daniel Sturridge is effectively first option should Drogba or Anelka get injured. Considering he wanted mega bucks from Man City to stay at Eastlands, it will be intriguing to see if he’s as good as he clearly thinks he is.

What they want to happen: Regaining the title would be great but as ever it’s the Champions League they want, hence the appointment of Ancelotti.

Nightmare scenario: Ancelotti proves more Scolari then Hiddink.

Plan A: Power and skill across the pitch. Ancelotti seems to fancy a diamond formation which would place Lampard behind Drogba and Anelka. Use the full backs to provide overlapping width and rely on Terry to keep things tight at the back.

Plan B, just in case: Use Drogba as a battering ram up front and get Lampard to shoot at defenders and hope for deflections.

Predicted finish: 3rd.

Why? Unlike any of their big four rivals, Chelsea are the only ones not to have weakened with no big names leaving the club. Pretty much everyone is fit and some useful squad players have been added. So why only third? My main reason is Ancelotti himself. He’s a top manager but his skills are suited to the Champions League rather than domestic issues. He’s only won Serie A once in his managerial career with Juve and Milan and that was in 2003/04. This is quite remarkable given the players he’s had at his disposal in that time and I just worry that it will take him a while to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League.

He doesn't always win it you know.

He doesn't always win it you know.

Though Chelsea haven’t lost a Ronaldo/Alonso/Adebayor, the feted ‘marquee’ signing hasn’t arrived and a relatively old squad has another year on the clock. Too many players had poor seasons last time round and they showed their true colours by not being bothered when Scolari was there before suddenly improving once he left. Perhaps Ancelotti’s biggest challenge will be keeping John ‘Mr Chelsea even though it took me a month to say so when Man City came calling’ Terry onside. Despite one of the best squads around, you wonder about the depth in the striking department. They will be there or thereabouts but the priority is the Champions League, always has been.



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