Chelsea are my team to beat for this season in the premier league. Jose Mourinho has a history of doing well in his second year at clubs and he told us as much last season. I watched them live at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday against Real Sociedad and I noticed how they were only once able to break through the midfield and run at the Chelsea defence, and that time Cahill and Terry cleared things up nicely. Mourinho has a system to stop the opposition running at his defence as much as possible in the game.
They played with Matic in a holding role and Ramires and Fabregas just in front closing down runners. Once their wingers run back as well it will be very difficult for a team to get in the gap between Chelsea’s defence and midfield lines, meaning the alternatives to make attacks are the wings and tricky long through balls to the strikers. Chelsea’s 2 world class centre backs Cahill and Terry will deal with many of the through balls and the wingers or any of the midfield 3 can be used to double up on a particularly good winger. If Matic is on the ball he has many obvious options: the back 4, Fabregas, Ramires and the long ball option to Costa. I think Matic can sometimes make mistakes and give away possession so that will help him and stop the opposition getting easy runs at the Chelsea defence.
Going forward, last year they scored 71 goals, the 3rd highest total total in league. This year, with the additions of Costa, Drogba and Fabregas, along with their young wingers all gaining experience, I can only see that figure rising especially if Fabregas stays fit.
However, a lot of their Chelsea’s victories last year were down to Eden Hazard and if he gets an injury then it could be difficult for them to score enough goals in some games. Another weakness I can see perhaps is squad depth. They have an abundance of attacking midfielders but I remember last season they were short of centre midfielders at some points and with Lampard and Luiz leaving and only Fabregas coming in they could have difficulties there. Also they only have 5 recognised defenders for the 4 places so that could also be a worry for them. Mourinho has, however, highlighted that many youth players will be used in his squad, which he has never really made noticeable use of in his previous managerial positions. Mourinho’s last trophy as a manager was 2 years ago with Real Madrid and pressure is building on him to change that record. Towards the end of last season he had several controversial ‘differences’ with opposing managers and importantly the FA and referees. This lead to a few bad results against weaker opposition and Mourinho must not let this happen again or it could cost him once more.