Position last season: 6th

 

Premier League title odds: 11/2

 

Players in: Eden Hazard (Lille, £32million), Oscar (Internacional, £25million), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, £7million).

 

Players out: Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua, free), Salomon Kalou (Lille, free), Thibault Cortois (Atletico Madrid, loan), Kevin de Bruyne (Werder Bremen, loan), Romelu Lukaku (West Brom, loan), Jose Bosingwa (released).

 

Net spend: £64million

Opening fixture: Wigan Athletic, DW Stadium (Referee: Mike Jones)

 

Predicted finish: 3rd

 

Key Man: Fernando Torres

 

Didier Drogba virtually dragged Chelsea to the FA Cup and Champions League last season, making decisive contributions in both finals, so Torres will have some rather large shoes to fill now the Ivory Coast captain has moved to China.

 

The Spaniard has had a trophy-filled 18 months since he made the £50million move from Liverpool, but his form during those competitions was nothing like as he would have expected.

 

Torres scored a nice goal in the Community Shield against Manchester City last weekend and was impressive throughout, despite 10-man Chelsea going down 3-2 to the Premier League champions.

 

Roman Abramovich has purchased a number of attacking midfielders and playmakers in order to get Torres the service he craves, so the striker will be under pressure to find the net more often than he has done. Torres won’t have a better chance to cement his place as the main man up front for the Blues, as there is little competition for the role in the opener at Wigan.

 

Prospects


 

After last season’s incredible turnaround, Roberto di Matteo is under a lot of pressure to take the Blues back into the hallowed ground of the Premier League top four. It may sounds rather odd but Di Matteo cannot expect any more time than his predecessor Andre Villas-Boas got.

 

Expectations have sky-rocketed since Drogba slammed home the deciding penalty in the Allianz Arena, Munich and sixth place in the league will just not cut it this time around.

 

The former Stamford Bridge midfielder was brought in to steady the ship after a shambolic beginning to the campaign, so expectations were kept low throughout and the pair of trophies were extraordinary bonuses for Chelsea fans.

 

Winning the one trophy that Roman Abramovich has craved above all others appears to have given him renewed vigour, which has been translated into spending many millions on promising youngsters such as Brazilian starlet Oscar and Eden Hazard from Lille.

 

This injection of exciting youth has done little to dampen expectations ahead of the new campaign, which feels a little unfair on Di Matteo, who has to find room for the new faces in the squad in the hope they can gel quickly.

 

A summer of renewed optimism means Chelsea fans will not accept anything other than a title challenge, though this will likely be the view of Abramovich – last season was simply a blip.

 

Di Matteo, rightly, was given a permanent contract in the summer to prove if last year was not primarily down to fortune. The atmosphere has changed and the big question is whether he can handle it.

Topics:
#Didier Drogba
#Chelsea
#Premier League
#Fernando Torres
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