Chelsea’s English defender John Terry (centre right) and teammates hold the English Premier League trophy, as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 21, 2017. Chelsea’s extended victory parade reached a climax with the trophy presentation on May 21, 2017 after being crowned Premier League champions with two games to go. Ben STANSALL / AFP
It was as far back as the 2008/2009 season that a Premier League Champion successful defended its title. Leicester had a disastrous defence, finishing 12th after a few relegation scare last season. And before that, Chelsea finished a lowly 10th in the Premier league after Jose Mourinho led them to the title the season before. Chelsea fans will certainly shudder at the thought of such repeat.
Chances are that Chelsea won’t finish that low, but the London club barely look capable of mounting a fruitful defence. Chelsea lost Nemanja Matic, Nathaniel Chalobah, Nathan Aké, John Terry and look certain to part ways with Diego Costa. Bench options Kurt Zouma and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have also been loaned out.
For a side that will be competing on four different fronts, the Blues are lacking in terms of playing personnel. More damning is the fact that Eden Hazard and new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko will not be starting the season due to respective injuries, Chelsea need more faces in their dressing room.
Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte has gotten a couple of new faces including Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and the aforementioned Tiemoué Bakayoko but the Italian knows there’s the obvious need for more. Chelsea’s midfield options are thin with only PFA player of the year, Ngolo Kante, Cesc Fabregas and Bakayoko going into the season as senior forward options. For a side going to play around 50 games, and a manager not so keen on the youth, Chelsea and Antonio Conte need to dip into the market for a number of quality signings.
The Community Shield, seen as a glorified friendly showed up a few faults in the side and the fact that their talisman Eden Hazard is going to be missed. Pedro Rodriguez and Willian Borges will take turns at the reins but doubts remain if they can have the same impact the Belgian had in the past season.
Then to the Elephant in the room, Diego ‘wantaway’ Costa. Can Morata fill his shoes?
Costa and Conte have burnt bridges and the pair most likely will not work together next season but his replacement and compatriot Morata might need bedding in time.
When asked if Morata was ready to start the season, Conte said: “Morata need to work but it’s normal. He has been with us for only one week.
“It’s very important to find a good physical condition and to understand our idea of football. He needs a bit of time but it’s normal.”
Conte will need to work his tactical magic, reinvent this side and demand for more to make them fit enough for the fight to retain the Premier League diadem.
Predicted Finish: 3rd