As I’m writing this, Chelsea are 22 points behind league-leaders Liverpool. Now on paper this is a problem, but in reality this Liverpool team is one of the best in Premier League history. They have started the season better than any team in all the top 5 leagues, so there is no shame in being that far adrift, especially when you consider all the changes that happened over the summer. In this article I will go over each position and consider what improvements will best transform us into a title winning team.
We’re going to start from the back with the most expensive Goalie in history; Kepa Arrizabalaga. Despite what many fans have said this season, he is world class. Yes he has his ups and downs, and his save percentage is worryingly low this year, but he still has outrageous saves that epitomize his talent. His distribution is very good and he still has many years left to develop. He’s also shown his ‘fiery side’ and although he was in the wrong for the whole Carabao Cup final shenanigans, you need a bit of that fire in your players if you want to win titles.
Now we move on to the full back department. I want to start on the right hand side because it will be a much shorter discussion. In fact, it just needs two words: Reece and James. All joking aside, this kid is special. He has the most potential of any of the current crop of youngsters on the Chelsea roster. Not only is he an incredible athlete and a brilliant defender, but he also has a passing range akin to Trent Alexander-Arnold. His performance level now allows me to say confidently that he will definitely be a title-winning left back.
Left back is a more complicated issue. Simply put, Alonso and Emerson are not good enough. For the remainder of this season Azpilicueta will work at left back. But in the summer, left back should be high up the priority list. Either Alonso or Emerson should be shipped out, preferably Alonso. In terms of replacements, I think we should look to Portugal. Whilst Chilwell knows the league and would weaken a rival, Telles and Grimaldo would be much cheaper and equally good options.
Finally, our centre backs. Our current crop is good, and individually they are very capable defenders, but together it never seems to quite work. I put this down to a lack of leadership in the back. Azpi is captain and would give his life for the blue of Chelsea, but you can tell he isn’t a natural born leader. However, someone like Koulibaly or Romagnoli is. Not only are they both among Europe’s elite defenders, but they have that passion that seems to run stronger in Italian blood. That passion and leadership could hopefully be the solution to our defensive troubles.
Personally, I don’t think the midfield needs any work. When everyone is fit, we have an array of quality players across the midfield.
Kante is Kante.l; not much else needs to be said. He can do just about anything and has proved he can play anywhere in a midfield combination . He’s the perfect utility player. Yes I know this hasn’t been his best ever season, but he still shows up when he is needed most. Obviously he is good enough to win titles, he’s done it with Leicester and Chelsea so there is no reason he can’t do it again.
Onto our Italian general, Jorginho. As I said earlier, Italians just have passion in abundance and this guy is no different. Even though he has only been at the club for 18 months, he would die for the blue of Chelsea. He has his off games of course. But when he is on the money, he is the conductor and critical base of our midfield. Other than Azpi, there is no one I’d rather see lift a Premier League trophy above his head.
Jorginho’s partner in crime, Mateo Kovacic, is also having a stellar season. His combination play with the aforementioned Italian has been absolutely beautiful at times and this season he has even added goals to his game. In fact, both his goals have been absolute screamers. There’s no reason why this Croatian isn’t title-winning quality.
Now for the controversial duo of Mount and Barkley. Both have had moments of magic this season, but both have had numerous stinkers too. They are great players to have in the squad because they are good enough to fill in when the fixture list is unforgiving, but it’s best they stay a long way from the starting eleven. I’d happily get rid of Barkley, but Mount should stay because he’s young and under Lampard could turn into quite a special player.
Finally onto Ruben Loftus-Cheek. I cannot wait until he’s back fully-fit because he was an absolute monster last year. Something just clicked for him and suddenly he was scoring a lot, shrugging off players like they were nothing and gliding through defences like a hot knife through butter. He quickly became a lot of people’s favourite player, me included. We can only hope that he gets back to the level he was at last year and there is no permanent damage from the injury. He provides thar goal-threat from midfield you need to win titles.
We begin with the main man, Tammy Abraham. If you had told me at the start of the season that this man would be in the running for golden boot, I would have laughed. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see him play and develop, but I didn’t think he would be this good so soon. Arguably the most impressive thing is the range in the type of goals he’s scored. Whether it’s towering headers, poacher’s goals or skinning defenders, he seems to be able to do it all. Yes he’s not always amazing but if he carries on developing at this rate he’s going to be the man to lead the line for the next title-winning Chelsea team.
Another hot prospect in this team is of course Callum Hudson-Odoi. I think a lot of people underestimate how big an impact a major injury has on a player of his age. Just imagine that you’re one of the hottest teenagers in Europe, tearing up the Europa League and bam you can’t play football for 4 months. To even make it back as quick as he did is an achievement in itself, but to get back to the level he was at before is even more impressive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this kid is special.
Ask any Chelsea fan about Pulisic and their answer will have a common theme. Underwhelmed. He started off okay, then he got really good and now he’s injured and not doing anything. He’s shown glimpses of brilliance-like against Burnley-but then he’s had games where he’s a complete passenger. He is still young and has plenty of time to develop, but at the moment he doesn’t look like the kind of player that would be integral to a great team. He is definitely worth keeping around but I don’t seem him being as important as CHO to this team.
Onto two players who have racked up over 450 games for the blues: Willian and Pedro. Love them or loathe them, there’s no doubt that they have been pretty important figures for Chelsea in the last 5 years. There is also no doubt that their time at the club is coming to an end. Both are the wrong side of 30, and their age is beginning to show. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Pedro left but I’d like to see Willian stick around to become a mentor figure in the dressing room. They should be replaced with an elite winger, someone like Jadon Sancho. If our options on the wings were Sancho, Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic, every fullback in the league would be soiling themselves. Along with Abraham, that would be a title winning attack.
Finally onto our woeful back up strikers. They are arguably ‘cult heroes’ of previous years, but now both need to go. Batshuayi has shown this season that he really is the world’s most inconsistent striker, and Giroud is probably best off retiring. Given Abraham’s injury record we need someone who will be quality (and consistent) to back him up. Somebody like Dembele from Lyon would be good enough to give Abraham competition for his spot, and fill in adequately when needed.
So to conclude, I believe Chelsea need a new centre back and left back to sure up the defense, and an elite winger along with a back-up striker to revitalise the attack. Smart business could be done in two windows and spending about £250mil. However, we know that the board won’t move that fast. I’m expecting this team to be challenging for titles again in two years…So bring on the 2021/22 season!