Now that we’re less than 48 hours from the kick off of the 09/10 league season, thoughts are turning to Chelsea’s chances of regaining the Premier League trophy after three unfortunate years of Man Utd dominance.
It looks like another roller-coaster season is in the offing – but who at Chelsea has the most at stake over the next ten months? It’s going to be a big year for…
The diminutive number 10 was a massive miss last season, his injury leaving a gaping hole in Chelsea’s creativity. But with a couple of injury-plagued years now behind him, he’s beginning to look at least a little injury prone. If he can get fit he is genuinely capable of making a big difference – although whether that’s possible in Ancelotti’s diamond midfield remains to be seen – but if he has another long spell on the sidelines Chelsea could again come up short on the creative stakes. In a World Cup year, Joe will be desperate to get some minutes on the pitch.
Injuries last season meant Ricky fell below Alex in the Stamford Bridge pecking order, and he can count himself lucky that Ancelotti sees him as the ideal partner for John Terry. If he can recapture the form of two years ago everything will be hunky dory, but if things go to plan he might find himself permanently frozen out.
The full backs
I don’t like it, but it Ancelotti is going to persist with a width-less 4-4-2 diamond. If Chelsea are going to be an attacking force to be reckoned with, Cole and Bosingwa will need to play at their peak week in, week out. They’ll need to do a hell of a lot of running too. Doubts remain however about whether Bosingwa will even keep his first team place – Carlo has favoured Ivanovic in recent games. Perhaps he really is on his way to Bayern? Would seem a strange move, given our narrow formation.
John Obi Mikel
Personally, I think Mikel is a top-class holding midfield player, and a better player in that position than he should be at his age. But does Carlo like him? Why else would we be pursuing Pirlo or Di Rossi, or experimenting with Deco at the base of the diamond? The Nigerian has a new contract, but you get the feeling he’ll need to start the season in top gear to stay at the front of the manager’s plans.
It’s been a bit of a struggle to keep my distaste for the least effective member of the Chelsea ‘team’ to myself over the last month (check out a recent post on Arnesen’s record here). He recently defended the lack of young players coming through by suggesting that he was never expected to bring any players through until 2010. You’ve got one year, Frank, I’ll hold back judgement until then.
It’s all started so well for Ancelotti, hasn’t it? A good pre-season, improving English, jokes with the press…even a trophy. We need only whisper it, but it was exactly the same last year with Scolari, and look what happened there. Ancelotti has potentially staked his career on a move to Chelsea after success stopped flowing at the San Siro, but fingers crossed Abramovich won’t need Hiddink on speed dial again this year.
And the rest
In lieu of a real one, Zhirkov will have to be our marquee signing. Apparently he’s the Russian Ronaldinho, so it shouldn’t be a problem…it will also be a big season for John Terry, who will need to be at his best to help us all forget the months of speculation around his future…Essien may need to adapt his game if he’s going to be effective in the right berth of a 4-4-2 diamond…Sturridge is carrying the weight of expectation on Chelsea’s youngsters alone this year, but that brings an opportunity…while Di Santo, Sinclair and Mancienne have a real chance to prove themselves at other Premier League clubs.
What do you think? Who’s under the greatest pressure at the Bridge next season? Post a comment…