The time for excuses is over. No longer can Chelsea players, coaches, or executives say that there’s something missing.
Most clubs would be thrilled to be in Chelsea’s shoes, coming off of a third place Premier League finish that saw them atop the table as late as the last week of March.
But when you have one of the richest people in the world as your owner in Russian businessman Roman Abramovich (net worth of $14.2B) and arguably the top manager in the world in Jose Mourinho, anything short of championships is unacceptable.
That’s why Chelsea should be thoroughly disappointed if they fail to win their first Premier League title since 2010 next season.
After adding two world-class talents in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas at the two biggest holes the squad have (striker and playmaking midfielder), expectations are sky high – and rightfully so.
The club were talented enough to finish third last season without them, thanks to the stellar play of the likes of Eden Hazard, Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle, and Oscar.
Yes, they got rid of David Luiz and elected to not bring back longtime captain Frank Lampard. But the latter was replaced by Fabregas, a younger, more athletic, and, arguably, better player now.
But the club hopes that anything lost by Luiz will be offset by Costa’s goal-scoring ability. And to be fair, if Luiz’ showing for Brazil in the World Cup told us anything, maybe it was the right move.
The most important change could come in between the sticks, where Thibaut Courtois, having spent the last three seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid, is expected to take over for Petr Cech. The Czech has been with Chelsea since 2004 and has started 326 Premier League matches with the West London club.
Despite all of Cech’s past accolades, Mourinho is banking on Courtois’ youth and recent successes to provide his club with a spark. Courotis, along with Costa and newly-signed left back Filipe Luis, led Atletico Madrid to a La Liga title and Champions League final last season.
Speaking of left back, Luis is expected to offer a significant upgrade over the aging Ashley Cole, who lost his starting spot last season to Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spaniard is expected to slide over to right back next season and share time with Branislav Ivanovic.
Despite adding the trio from Atletico and Fabregas from Barcelona, Mourinho is still playing the transfer market, looking for another striker and possibly a long-term replacement for John Terry. The second of those may come in the form of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, which would be a huge coup for Chelsea going forward.
But at Stamford Bridge, there is no time to think about the future. The future is, and always will be, now.
Sure, they could use another striker in case Costa flounders. Another central midfielder to pair with Fabregas, like Toni Kroos (before his move to Real Madrid) or Juventus’ Paul Pogba, would have been nice.
But they have more than enough to win the title with what they have right now.
This year’s Chelsea squad is more balanced and complete than last season’s version, and anything short of a top-of-the-table finish would be a massive disappointment for them.
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