Saturday, 7 August 2010

Premier League Preview - Chelsea


Reigning Premier League champions had a near perfect season, fending off challengers Man United and Arsenal, ending Sir Alex Ferguson’s pursuit for a fourth Premier League title. Carlo Ancelotti replaced the outgoing Guus Hiddink, collected the Community Shield, FA Cup and Premiership in his first season in the Premier League, banishing memories of “The Special One”.

This season has seen numerous changes at the club, with midfielders Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti being released, while Deco was sold to Fluminense, amongst a few others leaving the club. So far, replacements include Yossi Benayoun, who joined from Liverpool, and Brazilian midfielder Ramires, who is expected to sign from Benfica in the upcoming week. These players should be able to slot into the existing system quite easily, mainly thanks to the amount of World Class players available.

Key Player: Michael Essien

The Ghanaian international missed the World Cup in South Africa, after missing 6 months of the year and half the Premiership season due to picking up an injury on African Cup of Nations duty. He truly is a world class centre midfielder and is an excellent asset to have at any club, with his return making Chelsea even stronger this time around.

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Key Signing: Yossi Benayoun

With Joe Cole being seen as a big loss to the side, Ancelotti is somewhat justified in releasing him on a free transfer as he has every right to subsequently be unhappy with the players excessive wage demands, and the fact he only played 39 games for the club in the last two years. Hence the signing of Benayoun from Liverpool, who a similar type of player to Cole, and has a new refreshed attitude towards football after becoming disgruntled under former boss Rafa Benitez.

Aims: Retain Premier League title, FA Cup and challenge for the Champions League

Prediction: Winners

I make them the favourites, simple because they have arguably the strongest squad in the Premiership. The likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Petr Cech are still World Class players and capable of winning matches single handily.

Despite experienced players leaving the squad, the quality signings made should more than makes up for the losses. Ramires has a very high work rate, as well as excellent tackling and passing ability, while Yossi Benayoun’s attributes are well documented.

Ancelotti will continue Chelsea’s challenge, and it will take a lot of hard work from the other teams around them in order to prise the title away from the West London club.

First Five Fixtures: West Brom (H), Wigan (A), Tottenham (A), West Ham (A), Blackpool (H)

Best 11

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