The Blues are ranked favourites to lift the trophy this year, but what makes them so Special?…
It’s three years and counting since Chelsea last clasped their hands on the Premier League title under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti. Three years.
True, the Champions League and Europa League trophies arrived at Stamford Bridge in consecutive seasons but the Blues have struggled to mount a serious challenge domestically since they last touched the trophy.
Having conquered Europe twice over, the focus for Chelsea will be on their bread and butter and fanatix is here to tell you why they will be the cream of the crop this season.
1. The Special One
If there is one man Chelsea are indebted to for transforming them from idealists into Champions; it’s Jose Mourinho. Delivering their first top-flight title in 50 years, the Special One guided the club through an affluent metamorphoses in the formative days of Roman Abramovich’s free-spending tenure and into a new era.
With a squad littered by big names and even bigger egos it’s become a staple for every Chelsea manager after Mourinho to lose the dressing room at some point. But that is unlikely to happen given the strong bond he forged with Frank Lampard and John Terry.
The 50-year-old will undoubtedly be Chelsea’s greatest asset this season and if he can establish the same winning formula as he did between 2004 and 2007 the Blues should canter to the title.
2. The new blood
Five new faces arrived at Stamford Bridge this summer to reinforce and add depth to a squad already rich in strength and experience. It was important for Chelsea to plug a few holes in pre-season and they’ve done just that, while bringing in some exciting talent to Stamford Bridge.
Marco Van Ginkel will bring extra youth and vitality to the Blues’ midfield, with many considering him the heir to Frank Lampard’s throne, while Andre Schurrle is a regular for Germany at just 22 and provides a fresh option in up front, whether it be out wide or through the middle.
Mourinho also splashed out £30 million to acquire Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala, bringing extra Brazilian flair to the attack where he faces an intriguing battle with Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, compatriot Oscar, Schurrle and Kevin de Bruyne.
And two signings that could prove to be very shrewd are veteran striker Samuel Eto’o and 40-year-old goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who will provide much needed cover for Petr Cech.
3. The re-establishment of John Terry
Terry was a trusted lieutenant of Mourinho’s during first spell in charge and it’s no surprise to see him return to his perch as Chelsea’s on-field leader-in-chief after being knocked off by interim boss Rafael Benitez last season.
Many will point to Lampard or Didier Drogba as being the linchpin of Chelsea’s success. But it was always Terry. The authority and stability at the base of the team of flair players was pivotal and it’s no surprise to see him reinstated to the heart of defence with the captains armband that Mourinho game in nine years ago still in his possession.
4. The attacking triumvirate
Sharing 45 goals and 69 assist between them in all competitions it’s easy to distinguish why the coaliion between Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar was so pivotal to Chelsea’s success in 2012/13. The statistics tell the entire story.
Although the addition of Schurrle and Willian, along with the return of De Bruyne, will increase competition, Mourinho will know better than to fracture the bond shared by Chelsea’s own three amigos.
5. The fabled Chelsea spine
Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba. It was the spine that Mourinho built his empire around and formed the basis of a championship winning side. The same rules will apply on his second coming, albeit with Eto’o, Fernando Torres or Demba Ba fulfilling Drogba’s role as the turret of Chelsea’s attack.
Although they’ve aged in the time he’s been away it’s evident from the way Chelsea have lined this season that Mourinho will continue to construct the team around its original foundations, while preparing the next generation to take up the baton in the future.
6. The inexperienced rivals
While the “team in transition” tag was applied to Chelsea last season, roles have been reversed in the new campaign. Manchester United and Manchester City are under new leadership, while the Blues have re-emerged with an old face following six years of management strife.
United, in particular, will have teething problems under David Moyes as he takes up the unenviable task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, while the pitfall for Manuel Pellegrini is that he has never managed in England. Not to mention the weight of expectation on the shoulders of both managers.
This is a prime opportunity for Chelsea to re-establish themselves as a dominant force in the Premier League and challenge United’s recent stranglehold on the title.