With Manchester City and Liverpool dominating headlines throughout preseason, Chelsea has managed to fly under the radar in a lot of ways heading into the 2018/19 Premier League season.
With new manager Maurizio Sarri guiding the club, it seems as though the Blues have a coach in place that will be able to get the best out of their talent, which has already shown by his ability to keep Eden Hazard, Willian and N'Golo Kante at the club.
This team is just two seasons removed from hoisting the PL trophy, and with many players still in the prime of their career, it’s not unfathomable that Sarri can guide this club to glory once again.
Chelsea will contend because… the Blues have managed to stave off serious attempts at other clubs hijacking their top talents. To this point, Hazard, Willian, Kante, Courtois and others are all staying put at Stamford Bridge, and on paper, this squad is still one of the two or three best in England.
Chelsea will end up out of the top four mix because…. Manchester City and Liverpool will be too much to handle at the top, and Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United will have their say in the title race as well.
Transfers In: Jorginho (Napoli), Rob Green (Huddersfield Town)
Transfers Out: Jeremie Boga (Sassuolo), Jonathan Panzo (Monaco), Isaac Christie-Davies (Liverpool), Jordan Houghton (MK Dons), Wallace (Unattached), Harvey St Clair (Venezia)
Ranking their offseason: B-
Jorginho’s addition to the club automatically solidifies Chelsea as boasting one of the top midfields in the PL with his partnership next to N’Golo Kante, but while that move will likely prove to be brilliant, the Blues were relatively quiet in the transfer market. Sarri will surely bank on many of the club’s regulars from previous seasons to come back stronger in 2018/19 and lift Chelsea back into the title race, as they were two seasons ago.
Star player: Fresh off of a brilliant showing at the World Cup, Eden Hazard must now carry that over to the PL and show the rest of the world why he should be among the consideration and discussions of best players in the game. Hazard has all the capabilities imaginable as an attacking threat, but for Chelsea to get back into the thick of things in England he’ll need to be special this season.
Coach’s Corner: Maurizio Sarri stepped in relatively late in the game after a back-and-forth battle between Antonio Conte and management, however, the former Napoli boss seems to have brought a calming presence to the club. The veteran Italian has done his job thus far in keeping many of the side’s top talents in London, but now it’s up to Sarri to carry that over and provide the results for a club that always has tremendous expectations.
PST Predicts: Following a World Cup, it’s hard to predict how players will return to form given the strains of overexertion. Man City and Liverpool have earned the rights to be considered heavy favorites, but Chelsea won’t slouch with its current group of players. If Morata and/or Batshuayi finds their form up front, the Blues will boast a very strong front three to go along with a rock solid defensive unit that is now led by Kante and Jorginho sitting in front of the back four.
Following their 3-2 opening day defeat to Burnley at Stamford Bridge it is believed Roman Abramovich is now willing to back Conte heavily to help his rebuild of the reigning champions.
Conte has repeated his need for quality new additions on numerous occasions over the last month but with just over two weeks to go until the transfer window slams shut, Chelsea have brought in four new players this summer in Willy Caballero (free), Antonio Rudiger ($42 million), Tiemoue Bakayoko ($52 million) and Alvaro Morata ($77 million) but Rudiger and Morata are lacking match fitness and Bakayoko is out injured.
Per the report Chelsea want Oxlade-Chamberlain, 24, and will bid around $43 million for the versatile Arsenal and England man. Oxlade-Chamberlain has just one year left on his current contract at Arsenal and although Arsene Wenger has said the Ox, and others, are not for sale, could a big bid from their PL rivals really see him leave? If Arsenal doesn’t sell Oxlade-Chamberlain now they risk losing him for nothing next summer.
As for Drinkwater, 27, the England international did not feature for Leicester City last week against Arsenal through injury but the Foxes are stacked in midfield with Wilfried Ndidi, Andy King, Vicente Iborra and Matty James around at the King Power Stadium.
Chelsea’s opening offer of $22 million was laughed away by Leicester but with N'Golo Kante, the injured Bakayoko, youngster Jeremie Boga and Cesc Fabregas the only central midfield options for Conte after he sold Nemanja Matic to Manchester United, it is an area he wants to strengthen and Chelsea will offer closer to $30 million for Drinkwater.
Drinkwater is said to be keen on the move to west London to try and force himself back into the England setup, but will he really play regularly for the Blues? One thing is for sure, Drinkwater’s partnership alongside Kante is one which dominate the Premier League in 2015-16.
Finally there is no surprise Chelsea are targeting Southampton’s wantaway star Virgil van Dijk who is said to be valued at over $75 million by Saints. Given Chelsea’s shaky defensive displays in preseason they’ll need an addition to their defense to help shore things up.
The Dutch defender, 26, has handed in a transfer request and although Southampton insist their star center back isn’t for sale, if a big offer comes in from the reigning champions they’d be more willing to sell to Chelsea than Liverpool who issued an apology earlier this summer after reports VVD was “tapped up” by Reds boss Jurgen Klopp. In Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system van Dijk would flourish and he’d be encouraged to bring the ball out from the back and link defense with attack. He hasn’t kicked a ball competitively since injuring his foot in January, which will be a slight concern for Chelsea, but his quality is undoubted both defensively and on the ball.
Reigning champions Chelsea posted an absolutely miserable first half performance reminiscent of 2015-16, and Burnley held on against the 10- and then 9-man Blues for a 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Alvaro Morata’s entry into the game absolutely flipped the script for Chelsea. He scored off a Willian assist and then helped David Luiz to a goal with five minutes to play.
Chelsea controlled the first 13 minutes, but saw a major obstacle in the 14th minute when Gary Cahill went studs up into Steven Defour. Little contact was made, but intent was enough for a sending off.
That wouldn’t be the end of the harsh vibes at the Bridge, and Stephen Ward scored a goal Burnley fans will never forget when he laced a gorgeous shot from an unlikely and tight angle to make it 2-0.
Vokes made it 3-0 at the break, and Conte was fuming. Chelsea was stunned.
The Blues didn’t come pouring out of the gates, either, though the hour mark saw a decent chance and shouts for a penalty as Burnley got extra chippy. Alvaro Morata made his debut, and was chopped down for a yellow card by Ben Mee in the 64th minute.
Turns out Morata can play, and his diving header met a classy bit of playmaking from Willian to make it 3-1 in the 69th minute.
Morata was a half-yard offside when he slid to tap home a Christiansen cross that could’ve made it 3-2 in the 73rd.
Chelsea went down to nine men via a red card to Fabregas with about 10 minutes to go. That didn’t stop the Blues from making it 3-2, as Morata flicked onto Luiz for a cool finish.
The German giants struck three times in the first half four with Rafinha opening the scoring and Thomas Muller grabbing two for himself.
Antonio Conte‘s side were stunned but pulled back a goal just before half time with Marcos Alonso hammering home. New $95 million signing Alvaro Morata made his Chelsea debut in the second half but it was Michy Batshuayi who scored his second goal in as many preseason games to make it 3-2.
Next up for Chelsea is a game against Inter Milan in Singapore on Saturday before they head back to the UK for the Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley on Aug. 6.
Chelsea went behind early on as Rafinha put the German champions 1-0 up with a low shot from the right which took two bounces and skipped inside the far post and past Thibaut Courtois.
Soon it got worse for Chelsea as Muller scored twice in quick succession, the first a volley from Franck Ribery’s fine cross, the second a brilliant curling effort from over 25 yards out to give the Germans a 3-0 lead with just 27 minutes on the clock.
Chelsea improved before half time with Conte’s men creating chances on the break and Alonso then smashed home Victor Moses‘ cross as the Blues trailed 3-1 at the interval.
Both teams soon made subs with Kingsley Coman replacing Robert Lewandowski for Bayern, plus David Luiz came on for Andreas Christensen and Alvaro Morata made his Chelsea debut, replacing the impressive Jeremie Boga.
Gary Cahill then denied James Rodriguez with a great block but Chelsea couldn’t find a way back into the game as Morata lined up on the left of a front three with Michy Batshuayi in the middle.
Batshuayi went close to pulling another goal back but couldn’t get on the end of a cross, then James’ twice went close for Bayern but Courtois denied him.
Luiz hit the post for Chelsea late on and then Batshuayi finished after Morata’s flick on from a Cesc Fabregas corner to make it 3-2, but the west London club couldn’t grab an equalizer and tasted defeat for the first time in preseason after beating Arsenal 3-0 in their opening last weekend.