Jamie Barker has a critical look at how his beloved Chelsea will be approaching the 2012/13 season.
After years of trying, Chelsea finally managed to win the Champions League last year, and also bagging the FA Cup, 2011/12 was a season which went from disaster to glory. None of it matters now.
The upcoming season seems like a daunting challenge for the west-London club. Over the summer they have signed the much-sought-after Eden Hazard and Brazilian starlet Oscar – a clear sign that expressive attacking football is to be all the rage. Yet at the time of writing there are still questions over the strength in depth of the defence – with no real first option at right back an example of this. Alongside this, central midfield also seems weak. If the ever-present Lampard gets injured, there is no plan B. The same goes for Chelsea up front. More than ever the £50 million investment into Fernando Torres needs to pay off; the likes of Daniel Sturridge aren’t ready to provide Chelsea with goals if the Spaniard can’t deliver.
The concerns over the squad may be over-come. But if they are, it will mean Roberto Di Matteo proving himself as a manager. Questions remain over his ability in the league, and if he will be the manager to succeed where even World-Cup winning managers have failed by balancing youth with experience. He will be up against the brilliance of Man United, the meticulous Mancini, an embattled Arsenal, and, well you get the idea. If he has looked at recent times, the beginning of the season shouldn’t be a problem – it is around the winter months where Chelsea has faltered, and where he will have to succeed.
It’s not all doom & gloom thankfully! Chelsea have reason to hope that 2012/13 will see them once-again become a force in English football. The inspiration that was Juan Mata will be able to combine with Oscar and Hazard. At times Mata carried the team last season, now there are 2 players who can help him. Lampard and Terry are in the twilight of their careers, but this season could still see them have an important role to play. The Community Shield loss to City shows that, while some refinement is needed before Chelsea can claim to be title contenders, they aren’t too far from the top.