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Saturday, August 13, 2011

EPL 2011/12 : Chelsea all set to get the ball rolling

A new season, a new manager. This has been the story for Chelsea for quite sometime now and you wouldn't be surprised if you see a new manager as quickly as next season. However I personally believe that Andrés Villas Boas is here to stay, to build a team which the opposition will envy and drive away the question as to what if Roman Abramovich were to quit. The answer might just start with Andrés Villas Boas.

With a poor last season, the sacking of Carlo Ancelloti and the arrival of AVB induced more interest in the fans, a hope that Roman would splurge money and AVB quick to cash in, having the brightest stars at his disposal.  But with only 3 buys at the moment which include Oriol Romeu, Thibaut Courtios and Romelu Lukaku, AVB has dashed Chelsea fans' hopes of having a high profile player at the Bridge this season. The hunt for Modric still seems to be on with Pastore having snubbed the Blues for a chance to play at PSG. But will this move even materialize is a question on everyones minds, especially with Tottenham's stubborn approach with regard to Modric.

The 3 new arrivals though are young, bright stars, they lack the big game experience. The timing of the move though points to be an investment for the future than the present, giving the youngsters more time to gel and adapt to life at Stamford Bridge. AVB has surely identified Courtios to be Petr Cech's successor and his immediate loan stint at Athletico Madrid will do him a world good playing against some of the best attackers in the world. Oriol would be used to identify his place in the squad and Lukaku who is dubbed 'The new Drogba' will have time to learn to step in the shoes of the big man. However the immediate question is 'Has AVB done enough to build a successful team, his predecessor couldn't , a team which failed miserably in all competitions even when they finished 2nd in the league behind champions Manchester United.'? The answer to that would be, AVB is threading the safe path. His belief that a team cannot be built only by fitting players into an incomplete puzzle is driven by the fact that he was successful at even relegated threatened Portuguese side Académica de Coimbra and then at eventual Portuguese and Europa League champions Porto. 6 friendly games may not be enough to judge how good the team is, but without a doubt AVB has inherited players who can make life easy for any manager if each one of them play to their potential.

With many players on the wrong side of 30 and also injury striking some of them at the wrong time, it would be interesting to see how AVB handles his men. A young manager, new to the PL, and handling big egos is always a challenge. But AVB would consider these secondary to the challenges he will have in selecting his match day 11, a headache but a good one. Without any major signings Chelsea are no less a threat. They are a well settled unit and seemed to get more fiercer with each game in the friendlies(However friendlies are no measure as they are more for game time and practise). With the core group still around and the right balance of youth and experience Chelsea are definitely one of the the contenders for a title and just because there haven't been wholesale changes in the same squad from last season, to dismiss them would be foolish.

With the core team still available, January signings Torres and Luiz now settled in the side and the meaningful signings of 3 youngsters, all seems good for the Chelsea squad. With Drobga and Anelka still showing the hunger for success, Torres coming out of his injury which he last sustained just before he moved to Chelsea and Sturridge coming of age after a successful loan spell at Bolton, the omens are good for the team. The midfield might be missing Essien for a long spell after his injury in training, but this might be a boon for Mikel and Josh McEachren to fill up the gap and increase their chances of a regular starting spot. This would especially be a great opportunity for young Josh who is touted to be the next 'true' star in an England squad which has a lot of self proclaimed stars. The defence looks settled with Luiz and Terry holding the backbone while Cole and Ivanovic have always threatened. Bosingwa and Alex are quality defenders who can keep up the pressure even with one of them missing.

If I were Andrés Villas Boas
 A missing piece in the puzzle is the playmaker. Chelsea have of late struggled in this department and have looked out to acquire the services of many of them most recently being Pastore who snubbed Chelsea to join PSG. What are the options for Chelsea at the moment? Their pursuit of Modric doesn't seem to yield any pressure on the Spurs higher ups and with United giving up on their pursuit of Sneijder, it cannot come better than this to sign one of the world's best players who is available for transfer. If AVB could pull a bunny out of the hat in this regard, there would be no reason why Chelsea shouldn't win the competitions they play in especially the ever elusive Champions League.

3 youngsters in Romeu, Courtious and Lukaku is a perfect sign that AVB is here to stay. His ideology of mixing a little old and a lot of young is certainly the first in the Roman Era. The likes of Josh, Bertrand , Van Aanholt, Chalobah are certain to have more games under their belt with AVB at helm as he prepares the dawn of a new era. If Jose started building a puzzle with his own ideas, AVB will enhance it which would be a challenge for the opposition to decode. The burning desire for titles certainly will push every fan to extend their support to AVB. Will he end up being a Chelsea legend? 2012 might just answer that.


  1. Andre Villas Boas has said he will stick to the 4-3-3 it's just he's playing at a similar tempo to what he did at Porto and Porto were lightning quick on the ball and moving forward. He's most likely just going with Drogba and starting Torres from the bench. Ramires will remain in the team most likely to give a balance in the team. Fantastic read though!! :)

  2. I wouldn't deny the fact that AVB will play with 4-3-3, but playing Drogba on the wings would be a big big mistake. I do not have a playmaker in mind who Chelsea will buy except Modric and Sneijder. But if Chelsea manage to buy any one of them, there shouldn't be a reason why Drogba and Torres cannot play together. To have Ramires in the squad you would need to drop Mikel which I won't fancy as Mikel has a better physique than Ramires. Can drop back and play as a holding midfielder as required.

  3. Oh God no not Drogba of the wing him up front in the centre, Torres on the bench. Ramires has legs meaning he, Mikel and Lampard will all start in the trio in midfield unless Modric arrives and then there is a hard choice out of Mikel, Ramires, Lampard, Modric and Essien when he is fit again (which seems like it will never happen).

  4. Ideally you would want to play Drogba and Torres together. If AVB thinks otherwise what you are saying is absolutely true..If and when Modric comes in, Chelsea has a player in every position which will ease AVB's selection woes.