Despite the return of Jose Mourinho, last season saw no silverware brought home to Stamford Bridge for the first time since the 2010-11 season. After a busy summer of exits and arrivals, with over £80 million spent on new stars, Chelsea know they certainly need a trophy this season. Anything else would be considered a failure. With that in mind, here’s our look at the season ahead, including some potentially inspired (or embarrassing) predictions for the coming nine months.
Let’s start with the first silverware of the season, the League Cup. Last season Chelsea crashed out in the quarter finals, losing 2-1 to Sunderland in extra time. That was the point last season at which Mourinho switched from an attacking style to a more defensive one, as it became apparent the Blues’ strikers just couldn’t finish.
That shows that the Capital One Cup isn’t just a vehicle for youth players, he wants to win it. He won the trophy in two of his first three seasons at the club, and he has said it is a great way of building a winning mentality in the run-in. We most likely will see a rotated squad for most of the competition, but such is Chelsea’s strength in depth that shouldn’t be an issue.
LCN League Cup Verdict: Winners
Next up, the FA Cup, a trophy that Chelsea dominated between 2007 and 2012, winning it four times. Having gone out to Manchester City in the last 16 last term, they’ll be looking to improve on that this season.
It’s a competition in which Chelsea regularly field a strong side, and we expect this year will be no different. But, with five or six teams potentially looking to challenge for the title, the FA Cup could become a back up to those who are out of the race by February. An FA Cup win would be a great start for Louis van Gaal at Manchester United or Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, for instance.
If Chelsea are still in the Champions League and Premier League in the final months of the season, then this competition will likely be the one that suffers. Even with a deep squad, we think the Blues will fall short in this one as they look to other targets.
LCN FA Cup Verdict: Quarter finals
After a run to the semi finals last season, the Champions League is a very realistic target for Chelsea this season. They did look set for the final at one stage, but a second half collapse in the second leg against eventual winners Atletico Madrid saw them crash out.
After winning the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013, another Champions League win in 2015 isn’t beyond belief. The only issue here is that while Chelsea have strengthened, many of Europe’s best have added real quality to their ranks.
The holders Real Madrid have gone out and signed World Cup winner Toni Kroos and the tournament’s top scorer James Rodriquez for a combined total of over £90 million. Bayern Munich have added Robert Lewandowski up front. Barcelona have improved the most, adding Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thomas Vermaelen, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu and Claudio Bravo.
That Barca side looks a lot stronger than the one that went out in the quarter finals last season, and they look like the favourites to win it. If there was any other team that could stop those three this season, it would be Chelsea with Mourinho at the helm, but we think this is a season too soon for Chelsea with so much competition to face.
LCN Champion League Verdict: Semi-finals
Finally, the Premier League: the trophy Mourinho lifted in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge… and there is no doubt he will want to claim a third success this season. He said several times last season that Chelsea weren’t ready to win the title. He called them the little horse of the title race, even though they beat their competitors home and away.
While they did finish off the pace in the title race, it was due to defeats against the likes of Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Had they been able to find a path through packed defences, they’d have won the title last year with room to spare.
In Diego Costa, Mourinho may just have found that path. The Spaniard (Brazilian?) looks like the perfect Mourinho player. He’s strong, aggressive, inventive and hard working. While he looked lost in Spain’s tiki-taka team at the World Cup, the fast-paced nature of the Chelsea side should suit him, as should the physical style of the Premier League. With the squad looking balanced and Costa at the front, Mourinho’s side aren’t the little horse any more. With the strongest squad in the league, Chelsea will have their eyes firmly set on the title this year.
LCN Premier League Verdict: Winners