Chelsea are still title favourites, despite losing last season, despite the fact that Liverpool and Manchester United have improved their squads considerably, and despite the fact that the squad has been hit with injuries before the season has even started.
Credit for this goes to Jose Mourinho and the fearsome reputation of his star-studded squad. You feel that as long as Mourinho is at the helm and as long as one of Cech, Terry, Lampard, Essien and Drogba are on the pitch, Chelsea will keep winning games and stay in the title hunt.
As things stand, Chelsea have a balanced squad and the return to the 4-3-3/4-5-1 is more than welcome. Mourinho has improved tactically every year and as he prepares for another crack at the Champions League, he knows that winning the Premiership is Chelsea’s first priority and he needs to get his tactics spot on this season.
Chelsea cannot afford to rush their injured players back into the squad this season – so hopefully Mourinho will give Terry as much time as he needs (and then some) to recover and be fully fit.
Manager Status: I don’t understand the speculation surrounding Mourinho’s future – actually, I understand it, but it so obviously bullshit that it’s a shame to see it in the news at all.
Transfer Analysis: Chelsea have a settled squad and they’ve brought in the players needed to provide backup in case of injury. Mourinho has done quite well this summer – Sidwell, Ben Haim, Malouda and Pizarro will provide good backup, especially with the injuries, the African Cup and the fact that Robben could leave this summer (the Daily Mail reports that Real Madrid have already signed him).
Players to watch: Carvalho and Essien. Malouda could be for Chelsea what Robben was when he first came to Stamford Bridge and expect Shevchenko to score lots of goals.
August Fixtures: Home to Birmingham, away to Reading, away to Liverpool and then home to Portsmouth. A minimum of 10 points expected from those 4, although injuries could take their toll and the Pool and Reading games will be quite difficult for Mourinho’s men.
Expectations: Title. Champions League. The domestic cup double won’t cut it.
Predictions: Top 2 in the Premiership (unless injuries and Liverpool pull them back).