Date:Saturday August 11 2007
In the third and final instalment of our analysis of our rivals to the Title, we look at Chelsea, arguably our greatest threat next season, but have they learnt their lessons from last season.
Despite such an unusually quite summer for the London club, Jose Mourinho has still managed to spend £13.5 million on French winger Florent Malouda, and added with the expected transfer of Brazilian defender Daniel Alves, which will presumably hit well over the £20 million mark, Chelsea has potentially spent in the region of £35 million, rather a lot for the team who promised to curb their spending.
Despite this, Mourinho has still had a good summer, recruiting Malouda from Lyon, a powerful and pacy winger who looks a good deal at 13 million, having already scored against Utd at Wembley in the Community Shield. In addition to this, Mourinho has shown his shrewdness, capturing the talents of Ben Haim, Pizarro and Alex on free transfers.
Ben Haim looks a solid player, more than capable of coming in when injury stretches the team thin, and although I think he may find his opportunities to shine next season limited, the ongoing injury-proness of skipper John Terry may mean that Ben Haim will be a big player for Chelsea this season.
Pizzaro looks a decent enough striker, who boasts an impressive scoring record at Bayern Munich, averaging out at nearly a goal every three games. Despite this, I still don`t think he will have the same impact for Chelsea, as he has yet to net for the club, and in the community shield he looked a below-average player, with one wayward drive the only memorable contribution from the Peruvian.
Unfortunately, I think Pizzaro was signed purely as a replacement for Didier Drogba during the 4-week duration he is at the African Cup of Nations and I would be more than surprised if Pizzaro was still at Chelsea next season.
Alex is by far the most impressive arrival to Stamford Bridge, and I am sure he will fit straight into the English style of play, and given a run in the team I can see him pushing himself into the first team ahead of Carvalho. No only in defence does Alex look good, but also in attack, with a perfect example coming last season when he single handily sent Arsenal crashing out of the Champions League, with his powerful heading ability sure to be a huge asset for Chelsea who are renound for their aerial ability.
If Alves does sign it is sure to solve Chelsea`s cursed right-back position, however his questionable defensive ability, I cant see why Mourinho would go for a player like him, as it is common knowledge that he doesn`t favour a system which incorporates the full-backs in attacking positions, just look how much Cashley Cole has changed since joining from Arsenal, with his pacy runs down the wings now seemingly a thing in the past. And with Alves` hugely overpriced price tag, I`m not sure whether or not he would be the best option.
You will notice that I haven`t mentioned Steve Sidwell, and don`t worry I haven`t forgotten him. I just fail to understand what possessed "Moureen" to go for this fella. First of all, Chelsea are already more than covered in the central midfield area, with Essien, Lampard, Mikel, Ballack and Diarra all vying for places, and with no presumable one of these leaving Stamford Bridge after Ballack pledged his future to the club and Chelsea rejected the rumours of Diarra`s move to Arsenal, I just cannot see Sidwell, a player who wasn`t even Reading`s best player last season in my opinion, from throwing himself in the mix for a first team place, and I`m afraid that Sidwell will be warming the benches next season, along with Pizzaro, having a brief stint out during the African Cup of Nations, when Essien and Mikel go to represent their countries.
However with the players Chelsea already had they have more than enough to be challenging for the title, and if Frank Lampard (who in my opinion is "THE" most overrated player in world football) can pull his finger out and realise that you can score without a deflection, Shevchenko realises the form he had at Milan, Drogba has a similar season to last, and some of the other midfielder such as Essien, Malouda, Mikel and Ballack weigh in with more goals I think Chelsea could have a good season.
However, I just don`t see it happening. And unlike most moaning Chelsea fans I don`t blame injuries because every team suffers injury and like it or not it does even itself out over the course of the season, what I do blame is their stupidly high reliance on Didier Drogba, because lets face it you can say what you like about Lampard and Shevchenko, their only real, "proven" goalscorer id Drogba. And I know tomorrow their will be thousands of comments from bitter little Chelsea "fans" saying how Lampard was top scorer for Chelsea in 2004 and 2005. But let me say this, what was his shot to goal ratio. If you ALWAYS (and I mean always) shoot from long distance, you are bound to get a few in (just ask Liverpool), and of those which did find the back of the net, how many of them weren`t deflections, weren`t goals anybody could score. The tuth is, he doesn`t have the brain of a striker and he cant fathom a chance out of thin air like the Drogba`s, Rooney`s and Van Persie`s of this world, and instead he can only score gaols which are literally hand gifted to him be it by bad positioning, bad defending and most often bad goalkeeping.
Jose Mourinho has promised to play a more attractive style of play this season, where wingers will be more prominent in the side, but despite the capture Malouda, the imminent sale of Robben will leave Chelsea in no more of a stronger position than they were before.
So, even though I still see Chelsea as our biggest rivals this year, I don`t think they have learnt from their mistakes last season, and still their reliance on Drogba is too much, and unlike in previous seasons where Chelsea have been favourites due to the size of their squad, our squad has got strengthened too with the arrivals of Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson and Tevez, and without some sort of miracle season from Drogba, I just cant see where Chelsea will get the goals from.
Date:Saturday August 11 2007
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