The rollercoaster ride ‘Stealth’ at Thorpe Park is perhaps the perfect epitome of our season this past year. There have been ups such as the demolition of Man City at The Bridge, but also downs like the recent losses at Sheffield United and West Ham after the season restarted. Nonetheless, we managed to finish in the top 4 crucially, securing UCL football for next season as well as reaching the final of the FA Cup in which we can hopefully repeat the events of Baku last year. A good season all-in-all for Frankie’s Blues especially considering the transfer ban and the loss of the special, majestic and incredible Mr Hazard.
So then… where does that leave us with regards to our ambitions for the next few seasons? Well, simply put: Chelsea Football Club should and will be competing in every competition we are in. From the Premier League to the Champions League. We have strengthened our attack massively so far, with the Wizard of Amsterdam Hakim Ziyech already arriving in London and practicing his infamous cutting in on to his deadly left foot at Cobham in recent weeks. An infamous playmaker, Ziyech is quite the signing and is a steal at less than £40 million. Certainly a player that we needed to help us break down teams like West Ham and Burnley who remain stubborn at the back with literally 30% possession on most occasions.
Christian Pulisic has made his mark in the Premier League now. His hat trick against Burnley and his incredible form after the restart should be praised. We have an excellent player on our hands here, and certainly one that in the long term is an excellent replacement for our old #10. His electrifying pace, superb dribbling and technicality and shooting which is only getting better will strike fear into any opponent we face. On this front, therefore, a Ziyech/Mount/Pulisic combo already looks frightening. Enough to challenge for a title? Not yet…
Now we come to our new striker, Timo Werner. He has been second in the Bundesliga only to the insanely good Robert Lewandowski of Bayern. Unbelievable pace, good heading and the most venomous of shots, we are lucky to have fought off alleged competition from Liverpool for the German international. A proven goal scorer, having Werner up top for us with Pulisic, Mount and Ziyech behind… goodness. We are in for a real treat. Enough to challenge for the title? We are getting there, but not quite.
Another German player is set to be on his way to Stamford Bridge this summer too – Kai Havertz is a real talent already at such a young age. His assists and goals for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this season have not gone unnoticed, with the likes of Bayern and Barcelona interested in the attacking midfielder. Nonetheless, he looks set to join fellow Germans Werner and Rüdiger in London and have a starting place in the squad instead of Ross Barkley, although we have to wait and see how exactly the player will slot into the team. Havertz has technical prowess, the ability to shoot from range and a passing ability close to Fabregas in the final third, able to pick out a pass that few others would be able to see. One can hear the commentators already: ‘Kovacic picks up the ball after Kanté’s interception, finds Havertz who picks out a beautiful pass to Ziyech on the right. Ziyech cuts in and finds Pulisic on the edge of the box who plays a lovely one-two with Werner and then bangs it home into the top right corner!’ Enough to challenge for the title? In terms of goals, certainly. But there is still something missing.
The defence. It has been our Achilles’ heel throughout the season gone, letting in countless set pieces from corners to free kicks. Sloppy passing, THAT Rüdiger pass out for a corner vs West Ham… Sloppy is too kind to the defence. Zouma and our captain Dave have been our best defensive players, with Alonso unable to track back like he used to and Rüdiger and Christensen having the combined ability of an out of form Dejan Lovren. Harsh, but I think most fans would agree, fair. Then we come to the GK. I have always tried to defend Kepa due to his price tag and glimpses of brilliance. There is a good keeper in there, but he is not made for this league. His reflex saves are good, but he is unconvincing in the air, coming for crosses and in one-on-one scenarios. This is not even drawing attention to his inability to play out from the back. Kepa unfortunately is not the one. Conceding the same free kick twice to Trent Alexander-Arnold is unforgivable, with the Spaniard standing rooted to the spot for both. Jan Oblak- Welcome to the club.
We need to play Tomori and Zouma and see how it goes. Currently these are our best CBs. Azpilicueta as a RCB in a 3-4-3 with Alonso replaced by someone like Ajax’s Tagliafico. In the mean time, the search should begin for a seasoned CB like Napoli’s Koulibaly. Slightly older, yes, but we need a cool, calm head at the back with experience. Just look at what Van Dijk did to Liverpool’s shoddy back line, granted with the introduction of Robertson and Trent as well. A new CB, a new LB and Oblak therefore would signal a new defence. A defence that would be able to rival any other in the league. A defence that is needed and should be the club’s new focus this transfer window.
A frightening attack, a passionate midfield controlled by Kanté and Kovacic and a calm, collected defence with a seasoned GK (arguably the best in the world)… Yes please. Tagliafico is cheap, Kepa’s sale would largely facilitate Oblak’s purchase and the sale of deadwood in the club with all due respect (Drinkwater, Batshuayi and co) would fund a new CB. Chelsea FC should be challenging for the title in the coming years and with the changes we have already made combined with additions in the defensive department, we will be a true force to be reckoned with. On Twitter (@CFCAlmighty) I put out a poll the other day asking how long it will be until we win the premier league. 78% have said within 3 years, 15% say next season and only 7% think it will be more than 3 years. Only time will tell, but it is this author’s opinion that with the above changes made to the defence, combined with our deadly new attack and multiple bench options now (Tammy, Giroud, Willian etc), we will challenge for the title next season and hopefully win it the season after that. The Champions League will be interesting to say the least, but look at our squad in 2012 that played the final and won it in Bayern’s back yard. This club is going places. The Pride of London. Super Frank’s Blue Army. Premier League winners in the near future.