Last season: 2nd
Key signing: Jose Bosingwa
Jose Bosingwa brings something to the Chelsea team they didn’t have last season – a right back! Michael Essien was exposed at times when playing in that position as he is more suited to playing in the centre of the park or even central defence. Bosingwa has played in the Champions League with Porto and was part of new Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Portugal team for Euro 2008, so the manager knows what the right back is capable of. Bosingwa’s excellent performances in that tournament got him named in the team of the team of the tournament. He was great fitness and offers both good defensive and attacking services.
Key player: Didier Drogba
Chelsea have a who’s-who of football in their squad to choose from, including the likes of John Terry, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, the list is endless. But since Roman invested his billions into the club and spent a lot of it on players, only one striker has ever put in a decent strike rate for the London club. Mateja Kezman and Andriy Shevchenko were jokes, Adrian Mutu started off well but faded out… and then took some drugs, and Nicolas Anelka is living off the excuse of not settling in yet. But Didier Drogba, after only scoring 10 league goals in his first season in the Premier League in 2004/05 went on to become the league top scorer in 2006/07 with 20, as well as several in cup competitions. Drogba is strong, athletic and great with both his feet and his head, but is most well-known for falling over and rolling around, often without being touched.
Chelsea’s hopes of a 3rd title in 4 years looked bleak as early as September with the departure of Jose Mourinho. Inexperienced Avram Grant, who had been at the club since July that year as Director of Football, took charge, losing 2-0 to Manchester United in his opening game. They only lost 1 game in the league after that and ended up finishing 2 points behind Champions Manchester United. Avram Grant’s last game in charge for a Champions League final defeat on penalties, also to Manchester United.
New manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has managed several teams in the past, not none at club level in Europe. Scolari won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and was runners up with Portugal in 2004. It’s been 7 years since he managed at club level, but will need to get back into the swing of things and adapt to the Premier League quickly if he wants to achieve success at Chelsea, and ultimately keep his job. He can have a fiery temper on the field but is generally quite laid back. He is good at motivating and bonding his teams together. All-in-all, we’re expecting a few good laughs with Scolari this season.
As well as spending £16,200,000 on a right back, Chelsea have also brought in Deco for £7,900,000 from Barcelona, to fit into a centre midfield that already consists of Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel. Deco was a big part of Scolari’s Portugal team during his time there.
It’s between Chelsea and Manchester United to win the Premier League this season, and if Scolari can bring his international success to the Premier League then the titles going to Stamford Bridge. Either way, if you put the same money on Chelsea and Manchester United to win the league you’re going to make money.