Chelsea’s potential starting XI next season

With the World Cup over and the transfer window in full swing, the 2014/15 Premier League campaign is nearly upon us. In fact it’s just 26 days away, which is probably just enough time to watch all the highlights from last season to remind you how amazing it was.

Well, next term could be equally as exciting, with Arsenal finally splashing the cash, Manchester City determined to produce a much better title defence than last time, Manchester United welcoming a new manager in Louis van Gaal and Chelsea seemingly only growing ever stronger under Jose Mourinho.

Indeed, having already made four signings this summer, the Blues are making a very strong case to become the next Premier League champions. Take their starting XI for example, which is so impressive and exciting Football Fancast have decided to take a sneak peak at it.

[ffc-gallery]CLICK ON THE SPECIAL ONE TO REVEAL

Jose Mourinho [/ffc-gallery]

GOALKEEPER – THIBAUT COURTOIS


How the goalkeeping situation at Chelsea will pan out next season remains to be seen, with Jose Mourinho privy to two world-class goalkeepers in Blues veteran Petr Cech and Belgium international Thibaut Courtois.

But having refused to send the 22 year-old out on loan again after claiming consecutive Zamora Trophies during a three-term stay with Atletico Madrid (the La Liga equivalent of the Goalkeeper of the Year award), logic suggests the Special One will grant Courtois a significant portion of game-time next year.

The former FC Genk prodigy is undoubtedly a top talent. Here’s a look at his best saves for the Mattress Makers:

What Courtois’ progression to the Chelsea first team means for Cech however, remains to be seen. A late-window move to Monaco has been mooted in the tabloids:

RIGHT BACK – BRANISLAV IVANOVIC

ivanovic The sensational rise of Cesar Azpilicueta since joining Chelsea in summer 2012 cannot be ignored, but the human epitome of Jose Mourinho’s physically confrontational philosophy, Branislav Ivanovic remains a firm favourite of the Portuguese.

He also netted arguably the Blues most important goal last season – this winning strike against Manchester City which made an enormous statement of Chelsea’s proficiency against high-quality opposition:

Powerful, aggressive and now boasting 177 games’ worth of Premier League experience, the Serbia international will most likely remain Chelsea’s resident no.2 next season.

CENTRE-BACK – GARY CAHILL

Since moving to Stamford Bridge in January 2012, former Bolton star Gary Cahill has only shown a continual, rapid progression.

The 28 year-old was in such strong form last season that he earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

His efforts at the other end of the pitch aren’t too bad either with 10 goals in 111 appearances for the Blues, this strike against Tottenham during the 2012/13 campaign being the perfect example of his firepower:

Few defenders attack the ball better in the Premier League, and the England international now appears to be a natural successor to John Terry. Which brings us on to…

CENTRE-BACK – JOHN TERRY

The best defence in the league Last season proved that 33 year-old John Terry still has a few years left in the tank.

In drastic contrast to the year previous, the former England defender featured in every minute of Chelsea’s 2013/14 campaign, barring a two-match absence due to injury. He was in excellent form too, with many claiming Terry should have been recalled to Three Lions duty for the World Cup.

Interestingly enough he wasn’t and England plummeted out of the group stages. Here’s a look at the defender’s best moments from last term:

LEFT-BACK – FILIPE LUIS


Once again, it feels obligatory to mention Cesar Azpilicueta after his sensational campaign as Chelsea’s resident No.3. But the Blues just splashed out £16million on former Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis, suggesting he’ll be given a first-team role next season.

Whilst the rest of the footballing world has become obsessed with ‘false full-backs’, the Brazilian is a throw-back to more defensive traditions. Just check out his sensational tackling return from last season:

Filipe Luis stats

Also boasting the natural build of a centre-back at 6 foot 2, the 28 year-old is very much a Mourinho player.

But the Chelsea gaffer will be wary of stalling Azpilicueta’s development and the similarities between Luis and Ivanovic, so expect the Spain and Brazil internationals to rotate next season.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – NEMANJA MATIC


Swapping Juan Mata for Nemanja Matic whilst generating £16million in profit proved to be the Premier League’s most astute move of the January window.

The 6 foot 5 midfield monolith got his Chelsea career off to a flyer with a committed display against Manchester City shackling Yaya Toure, and maintained that level of performance throughout the season. Here’s a look at the 25 year-old’s statistics from the campaign:

Matic stats

Another player who epitomises the Jose Mourinho ethos, and now the benefactor of six months to adapt to the English game, Matic could well emerge as the Premier League’s top holding midfielder next season.

Hopefully the former Benfica enforcer can transition this part of his game to the Premier League too:

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – PAUL POGBA

Paul Pogba (France) Jose Mourinho has claimed Chelsea won’t be doing any more business this summer after already wrapping up deals for four players.

But if there’s one major transfer target who could still make his way to Stamford Bridge this summer, it’s undoubtedly Juventus star Paul Pogba:

The France international has been nothing short of a revelation after swapping the Manchester United youth ranks for the Old Lady first team in summer 2012, since claiming back-to-back Serie A titles, the Golden Boy award for 2013 and FIFA’s Best Young Player award for the 2014 World Cup.

Indeed, the 21 year-old was impressive throughout the tournament and last season, as detailed below:

Paul Pogba

Powerful and athletic yet technically exceptional, Pogba would be an incredible signing for any Premier League club. Here’s some of his best moments for club and country:

RIGHT WING – WILLIAN

Many were surprised by Willian’s lack of starting opportunities at the World Cup, following the Brazil international’s impressive opening campaign with Chelsea.

Indeed, although the 25 year-old lacked end product at times, his overall contribution certainly earned the plaudits at Stamford Bridge. Here’s a look at his attacking statistics from the campaign:

Willian

Not to mention this wonder-strike against Norwich:

Combine that with Willian’s sensational work-ethic, and even free-scoring Germany international Andre Schurrle will struggle to take a first-team slot from him next season.

CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELD – CESC FABREGAS


Chelsea lacked the craft and vision to break through well-organised Premier League defences last season, but the £30million capture of Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas should remedy that in abundance.

Despite the La Liga side’s decision to sell the Spain international was in strong form last term, as detailed below:

Fabregas

And of course, the 27 year-old comes with that all-important Premier League experience, having spent eight years at Arsenal where he racked up 35 goals and 77 assists in 212 league appearances.

Here’s a look at Fabregas’s career highlights:

LEFT WING – EDEN HAZARD

Undoubtedly the first name on the Chelsea team-sheet for the foreseeable future is Belgium international Eden Hazard.

Despite struggling to impact at the World Cup, the 23 year-old is quickly emerging as one of the top attacking talents in world football. Just take a look at his stats from last season:

Eden Hazard

That 14-goal haul saw Hazard finish up as the Blues’ top scorer last term, earning him the PFA’s Young Player of the Year and Chelsea’s Player of the Year awards. Here’s all his strikes from the campaign:

STRIKER – DIEGO COSTA


Chelsea have been calling out for a natural successor to Didier Drogba for some time, and they may have finally found it in £32million acquisition Diego Costa.

The 6 foot 2 striker is tough, aggressive and more than capable of leading the line on his own. He doesn’t mind some fisticuffs either – here’s Costa battling it out with Mohamed Sissokho:

…and kicking a Sevilla player in the nuts:

And some classic Drogba-esque play acting to boot:

There’s no doubting the 25 year-old’s firepower either, having propelled Atletico Madrid to the La Liga title and last season’s Champions League final with 36 goals across all competitions.

Is he the final piece to the Chelsea jigsaw? Only time will tell.