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Premier League Team Analysis: What Comes Next in the Chelsea Rollercoaster?


Premier League Team Analysis: What Comes Next in the Chelsea Rollercoaster?

There’s no doubt the whole landscape of English football changed in the summer of 2003.

That was when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich first walked into Stamford Bridge and the top flight has never been the same since.

With full respect to players and numerous managers that followed, the wealth of the oligarch has been the pivotal factor in leading the club to the most successful period in its history, including five Premier League titles, five FA Cup triumphs and the Champions League he so craved.

The fact so many figures have been shipped out for failing to succeed or be consistently successful has shown what a rollercoaster the club can be.

Key Strengths

That policy is arguably a strength and a weakness as they go into the Premier League.

Success is demanded virtually all the time or key figures depart unceremoniously and are simply replaced. Until Manchester City, no club has been able to afford such ruthlessness.

Antonio Conte left after two seasons with a Premier League title and an FA Cup to his name.

That would have been acceptable at most clubs, but a failure to qualify for the lucrative Champions League—coupled with his own gripes which tested the club’s patience—proved his downfall.

In fact, some would argue the Italian (who was found wanting in his second campaign but did end it with silverware) helped engineer his own downfall.

In the end, it was all rather unsavoury and players such as Willian made their feelings for the manager emphatically clear.

The man now in the hot seat is another Italian, someone who has pledged to bring ‘fun’ to the role.

Of course, Maurizio Sarri must be aware that if he doesn’t deliver trophies, chances are Abramovich won’t have fun and his reign may be brief.

Remember, this is a club which has had eight permanent bosses and a fair few caretakers in the past decade alone.

Despite their Community Shield defeat, many SBOBET fans will tip Chelsea to challenge for the top prizes once again.

They certainly have a squad to do so, and the appointment of a number two in fan-favourite Gianfranco Zola is a popular one and should buy some time.

Particularly, if the futures of star men like Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois can be secured.

Major Weaknesses and Concerns

Courtois seems to be linked to a move to Real Madrid, no surprise given his super showing at the World Cup when he was named best goalkeeper in the competition.

It appears he could be replaced by Spanish number two, Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao, which would be potentially a smart move.

More importantly is ensuring Hazard isn’t also lured to the Madrid giants, despite recent Premier League 2018 news suggesting he could be on his way out.

Indeed, his first appearance in the pre-season saw him net a penalty shoot-out winner over Lyon.

Now, the real action begins and maintaining the services of Hazard and finding the best form for Alvaro Morata—who was inconsistent during his first term in the Premier League—are surely Sarri’s initial priorities.

David Luiz is likely to feature again. He was sidelined for much of last year after openly questioning Conte’s approach, yet was a firm favourite the year before as they cruised to the title.

However, he can be a liability in a back four which, as history suggests, Sarri prefers to utilise.

Generally, until recent weeks, the club has had an uncertain summer. Abramovich dealt with his own visa issues while Conte even returned to begin pre-season training, even though he had no real desire to remain.

Extended breaks for players at the latter stages of the World Cup have also not helped and it’s fair to say it may take Sarri and Chelsea some time before they hit the ground running.

Stability and unpredictability are often watchwords in modern day football, none more so than at Chelsea.

That seems unlikely to change in the season ahead.

Key Players to Watch

Hazard is the man who makes Chelsea tick and their Premier League 2018 odds would fall significantly if he were to be sold.

Big things will be expected of new signing Jorginho and, if he can form an instant partnership with French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante, Chelsea’s engine room will be a threat to any team.

Fearless Forecast

An improvement on their fifth-place finish is possible, but a top-two finish seems unlikely unless they can quickly rediscover their title-winning form of 2016-17.

Conte benefited enormously from no European competition in his debut season and Sarri must decide how much stock he gives the potentially fixture-heavy Europa League campaign.

 

 

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