Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge last season was hailed as a revival of Chelsea’s glory days but the Blues did not add to their trophy cabinet, fizzling out towards the end when fixtures piled up, fatigue kicked in and form dipped drastically.
There is renewed optimism as the new Premier League season approaches next week, away to Burnley before their first home fixture to Leicester City.
In the meantime, Chelsea have plenty of pre-season friendlies to get through starting with Besiktas away on Friday, then away to Ferencvaros on Friday before meeting Real Sociedad at home Tuesday.
The Chelsea roster has been suitably refreshed and one talking point is the arrival of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.
Better remembered by the Chelsea faithful for his time in Arsenal’s midfield, Blues fans hope Fabregas can replicate the sort of fiery spirit, mesmerizing passing and combative style from those Gunners days when he captained them. Still only 27, although he seems to have been around forever, the Spaniard will add the cutting edge Chelsea lacked at times last year.
Chelsea finished third behind champions Manchester City and Liverpool last term although at one point they were seven points clear but a series of poor results against lowly teams like Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Aston Villa meant no immediate jubilation for Mourinho.
Chelsea seem to always have an excess of midfielders but Fabregas’s addition looks like a shrewd acquisition following the loss of the legendary Frank Lampard who has joined New York City but will initially play for its parent club Manchester City. Chelsea play City at the Etihad Stadium on Sept. 21, but Lampard claims he does not want to feature, given the respect he holds towards Chelsea where he spent 13 years.
Fabregas’s steely input will perfectly complement the artistry and deft touches of the likes of Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic, Oscar and Willian.
Getting rid of David Luiz for a big sum was great business, considering how poorly he played at the World Cup. Paris St. Germain must have been wringing their hands as Luiz, aka Sideshow Bob, made a series of sloppy mistakes. It was as if his mind was just on the lucrative club contract he had signed.
Okay, he scored a great free-kick, but that was about the only really positive thing Luiz did in the entire tournament.
Ramires played alongside Luiz for Brazil and was equally as unimpressive.
He is unlikely to get many starts this season and should be shipped out too.
Andre Schurrle showed at the World Cup he deserves more opportunity at Chelsea and anyone who returns from a summer break with a World Cup winner’s medal should always start from the first whistle.
Mourinho claims Chelsea players are pleasantly surprised at Diego Costa’s ability and that the Spain striker is the sort of player the club has lacked in the front line in recent seasons.
Costa, who arrived at Stamford Bridge for $44 million from Atletico Madrid in July, has impressed the Chelsea boss so far.
He scored 36 goals in 52 games in all competitions for Atletico last season and was the main reason why they won La Liga and reached the Champions League final, losing to Real Madrid.
Mourinho has sold Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba while bringing in Didier Drogba and Costa.
Droba is a Chelsea legend but he should not be back. Mourinho claims the killer instinct is still very much alive but at 36 and two years after leaving the Blues having secured their first ever Champions League crown with that epic penalty shootout kick, he is likely to be just as ineffective as Samuel Eto’o was.
Drogba refused offers from Chelsea to stay two years ago, insisting he wanted to go out at the pinnacle, but is certain to tarnish his legacy this time.
Drogba has a one-year deal and hopes to help the club win their first league title since 2010.
“I’m not coming here to break records, I just want to win trophies,” Drogba said.
“Five years is a long time not to win the Premier League. It’s too long for a club like ours.”
The Ivory Coast international initially joined Chelsea 10 years ago as one of Mourinho’s initial signings during the Portuguese’s first stint at the Chelsea helm.
He scored 157 times, capped by hitting the winning penalty as Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich in a shootout for the 2011-12 Champions League.
Petr Cech has seen off all pretenders to his goalkeeper’s No. 1 spot for a decade now but the Czech international may have to share the position this term.
Mourinho has brought Thibaut Courtois back from a loan spell at Atletico Madrid where he established himself as a world class stopper.
Both played 45 minutes in Chelsea’s 3-0 pre-season defeat at Werder Bremen on Sunday.
Mourinho spoke afterwards about the situation, praising Courtois, 22, claiming he is the best young goalkeeper in the world but also flagging up how quiet the Belgium international was on his first outing with his new teammates.
Maybe it was just shyness but Courtois has immense talent and if Cech’s form wobbles at all this season he could be in the unfamiliar position of warming the bench.
Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry remain at the heart of the defense and even though Terry is at the veteran stage of his career, when not injured he still shows that warrior heart and even chips in vital goals to boot. Despite all the controversy he has generated over the years, Terry remains club captain. Meanwhile, Lukaku has hit back at Mourinho after he claimed the striker was not prepared to fight for a first-team spot.
The 21-year-old Belgium international joined Everton for a club-record $39 million last week, opting to leave Stamford Bridge having started just one Premier League game in a three-year spell.
Mourinho questioned Lukaku’s commitment to Chelsea but the player simply responded by saying he wanted regular first-team football after loans all over the place.
Lukaku has a point considering Fernando Torres somehow seems likely to stay despite his appalling scoring record in the three years since he joined from Liverpool for a club record $69 million.
Torres is surely the biggest waste of money in football history. He has scored only 20 times in 110 appearances, a pathetic return for such an expensive buy who ‘earns’ $20 million a year and his catalogue of misses are now mocked on YouTube.
The Spaniard somehow got into his country’s World Cup squad, which partly explains why they were so useless in Brazil.
Torres’s latest horror miss does not indicate an immediate change in fortunes.
He played against Werder Bremen and had a glorious chance to pull his side level with the score at 1-0.
A cross was flicked on by Costa and eight yards from goal, with no challenge coming in from a defender, Torres failed to even trouble the keeper, sending his volley high over the bar.
Torres remains an expensive luxury who should have been shipped out, not Lukaku.