Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea will have their eyes on the ultimate prize this season as they look to land the sole trophy to elude them in the Roman Abramovich era – the UEFA Champions League as well as retaining their status as English champions.
The 2009-10 season proved to be the most successful in the history of Chelsea FC as Carlo Ancelotti led Chelsea to the League and FA Cup double for the first time in his opening season as Head Coach. After a tense season of twists and turns with Manchester United, Chelsea wrapped up the league title on the final day of the season with a top flight record victory, 8-0 over Wigan Athletic to lift the trophy in style. Along the way, Chelsea set a Premier League record for number of goals scored – finding the net an incredible 103 times in the league.
The squad: 2010 summer transfer activity
An accusation levelled at Chelsea for the last few years is that the squad is too old. To combat this, the summer activity at Stamford Bridge has mainly seen experienced players in the twilight of their career leave through the exit door. Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Deco and sadly for most Chelsea fans, Joe Cole, all moved on to pastures new this summer. New arrivals to the club are slim to date, Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun replacing Anfield-bound Cole for a reported £6.5million the only likely first-team player to join, with future talent 17-year-old centre-back Tomas Kalas joining from Sigma Olomuc.
After seeing Avram Grant, Luis Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink all fail to satisfy their owners’ taste for trophies since Jose Mourinho’s exit in 2007, Carlo Ancelotti arrived from AC Milan after spending eight years as the head of the Rossoneri. With two Serie A titles and the Champions League title prominent on his CV, the Italian took the helm and led to the Blues to their first Premier League title in three seasons as well as a third FA Cup triumph in the last four years with the swagger and entertainment value so craved by Abramovich. His success in his first season in England should see an end to the revolving door policy to the management position at Stamford Bridge, as the Chelsea fans took the Italian to heart and the ghost of Mourinho finally seemed to be exorcised.
Anchorman: Michael Essien
For many observers as good as a new signing in itself, a fully fit Michael Essien will give Chelsea an extra boost for the season ahead. The Ghanaian’s return to fitness strengthens the Blues midfield, after he missed out on the climax of last season and the World Cup in South Africa. A serious knee injury ensuring he hasn’t played competitively for his club since December. Despite making just 13 league starts last season, Chelsea’s quest for domestic glory wasn’t hampered by Essien’s absence, yet it was the Champions League exit to Inter Milan where the talismanic midfielders’ loss was felt most. With his hard-hitting no-nonsense style of play and possessing a rocket of a shot in his arsenal, Essien’s return to the starting line-up will be an unwelcome one for many opponents this season.
Playmaker: Frank Lampard
Despite enduring a disappointing summer with the English national side at the World Cup, Frank Lampard returns to club football amongst the key players at Stamford Bridge. His consistent record of goal-scoring and assist play over the last five seasons in particular make him top of the team sheet on match-day. Contributing an incredible 27 goals in all competitions last season and now standing at number three in the all time top goalscorers charts for the Blues, Lampard will look to put international frustration behind him by earning silverware at club level again this season.
Hot prospect: Jeffrey Bruma
Excelling as part of Chelsea’s FA Youth Cup winning set-up, 19-year-old Jeffrey Bruma will look to force his way into Ancelotti’s first-team plans this season. On the back of making his Blues debut last season, Bruma, a confident centre back who can cover at right back and strikes a mean set-piece, has been recognised at national level after receiving the call from Netherlands Head Coach Bert Van Marwijk for this month’s international friendly in Kiev against Ukraine. With captain John Terry to learn from on the pitch, Bruma could make big moves this season, especially if Ricardo Carvalho departs to team up with former manager Mourinho at Real Madrid.
2010/11 prediction: Champions
Much of Chelsea’s success may be dependent on the fitness and form of star striker Didier Drogba, but if the Ivorian can produce to close to the frightening return of last season, the Blues will be hard to stop. Drogba banged in a stunning 29 league goals in a Golden Boot winning season as he led Chelsea to the title, supported by Lampard’s 22 goal return with Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda also scoring double figures over the season. Winning the title by a single point in 2009-10, Chelsea owed a lot to their spotless record against their supposed `Top 4′ competitors, overcoming Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool at home and away last season. Their rivalry with big-spending Manchester City will be renewed after finishing pointless against City last season.
This is a guest post by Chris Hill from chelsea_knight_crusaders_champions (A Chelsea fansite on Yahoo Groups). If you are on Yahoo get over and have a look!
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