EPL Preview 2012-2013: Chelsea
The Roar continues to preview the upcoming English Premier League season. Today we look at Chelsea FC.
2011/2012 Result: 6th
Manager: Roberto Di Matteo
Ins: Oscar (Internacional), Eden Hazard (Lille), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen)
Outs: Sam Walker (Bristol Rovers – Loan), Romelu Lukaku (WBA – Loan), Kevin de Bruyne (Werder Bremen), Matej Delac (Vitoria Guimaraes), Ulises Davila (CE Sabadell), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Jose Bosingwa (Free), Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenua), Rhys Taylor (Southend United)
After spending approximately £75 million on new recruits Hazard, Oscar and Marin, there is little doubt that Chelsea expects to be back in the title race this year.
The amount of creative talent available in the midfield is the envy of every other club in the league. But is Di Matteo the man to bring out the best in this squad?
Chelsea’s run to the Champions League final last season was characterised by a style of football that had most neutrals cringing.
Blues fans – and more importantly, Roman Abramovich – will be expecting a lot more flair this year.
Key Player: Fernando Torres
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. With Drogba and Anelka moving on, Torres is currently the only out and out striker on Chelsea’s books.
To say that this season is looming as a decisive one for the £50 million man is understating it.
Di Matteo has spent the summer strengthening the supply line for Spaniard and his form will have Chelsea’s chances resting on a knife-edge.
Succeed, and he will be catapulted into the very top echelon of world class players.
But fail – through either lack of form (read early 2011), or through injury – and Chelsea’s season might as well be down the plughole.
The Road Ahead
Chelsea certainly have the personnel to mount a title challenge this year, but are in danger of having a weak underbelly exposed.
Torres will need help in attack, and the rumoured signing of Hulk would certainly address this issue.
Di Matteo will need to watch his back if Chelsea have a slow start to the campaign – Abramovich churns through managers worse than any other owner in the league.
The spectre of an unemployed Pep Guardiola looms large.
Prediction: 5th – The quality of the squad won’t allow the Blues to slip too far down the ladder.
But this season looks like every other one in the past couple of years. Expect a managerial change in January.
Oscar will initially struggle to adapt to the English game – I think everyone will accept that. How much of an uphill battle it will be is probably not that appreciated though.
Brazil would generally be accepted as the best producer of attacking players in history. But it could be argued that none (zero, nada, zilch) have been able to make it at Premier League level.
Consider this – at 29 goals, Juninho is the most prolific Brazilian to ever play in the Premier League.
That falls behind such behind such football powerhouses as Zimbabwe (Peter Ndlovu – 35 goals), Latvia (Marian Pahars – 42 goals) and even Australia (Mark Viduka – 92 goals).
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