Let me tell you my friends that we are in for a total humdinger of a pre-World Cup season come August. With David Moyes chomping at the bit to prove himself as a worthy successor to Sir Alex at Manchester United, Jose back at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini also coming in at Manchester City, next season could resemble the Oklahoma land rush of 1889. And we all know who won that. Right?
What I’m trying to say is that pre-eminence, in this wonderful league, is up for grabs after two decades of Manchester United dominance. We aren’t suggesting that Manchester United won’t prolong the empire under the superb David Moyes. But the last time Manchester United did look seriously in trouble was when The Special One was last plying his trade at Chelsea. That team that Mourinho put together may not have dominated Europe but it was tailor-made for Premier League omnipotence. With bewitching skill on the wings from Robben and Duff, superb power up front with Droggers, a midfield including the then stupendous Micheal Essien (and still stupendous Frank Lampard) and a defence that looked like that of The Germans in ‘Escape To Victory’, Chelsea had power, pace and precision in abundance. They were full of goals and utterly watertight at the back. They were almost a bit too good. It was borderline unfair. They were so good that they were sort of cheating but you couldn’t quite articulate how. But this team was unquestionably a match for any in Premier League history.
So having seen Jose manage Chelsea already we can make certain assumptions about what he will do this time around. The Chelsea that Jose is inheriting has some of the most technically gifted players in Europe, but the team is too open and concedes too many goals for this manager. Some will worry that Jose will sacrifice flair for physicality. But we think he will manage to regularly shoe-horn his most talented trio, Hazard, Mata and Oscar in there and still add some steel. If he doesn’t play all three then two of them plus Lampard will get the nod in the attacking midfield slots. A striker is a priority and Edin Dzeko looks like a perfect fit for the Mourinho template. Romelu Lukaku also fits into the mix well and it surely won’t be long before Mourinho is moulding him in the image of the scintillating Drogba – a balletic bulldozer.
We believe that Chelsea will line up in a 4-2-3-1 next season, which also means that Jose may invest in another defensive midfielder. We think that he could well fancy Marouane Fellaini for one of those berths. In time he will also need defenders but for now we think he can coax another year out of John Terry. Mourinho also has Cahill at his disposal and Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Porto’s highly rated France U21 Eliaquim Mangala.
So, here goes. Our punt at Chelsea’s team for August.
Cech, Ivanovic, Luis, Terry, Cole, Fellaini, Ramires, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Dzeko
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