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Chelsea predicted XI for the new season

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Thus far Jose Mourinho has made only two high-profile signings, but with some of the world's finest young players returning after successful loan spells, the Chelsea squad will most likely be somewhat different from last season's.

Whilst some players seem almost certain to join the west London club over the (still extensive) course of the summer transfer window, for the purposes of this article I will only be including individuals whose transfer has been confirmed by the club, meaning that potentially players such as Filipe Luis, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Paul Pogba may have to wait.

I will also be using the same 4-2-3-1 tactic that Jose Mourinho thus far seems to have favoured with his Chelsea side.

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Goalkeeper - Thibaut Courtois

After three seasons with last year's surprise La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid, the Belgian number 1 has established himself as the world's best young keeper. Whilst his loyalty to the Blues may be questioned - he has previously expressed his desire to stay at Atletico - it would appear that Jose Mourinho has persuaded the shot-stopper to spend his next season at Stamford Bridge.

Though the fate of veteran Chelsea man Petr Cech lingers, Courtois has let it be known that he will not return to London as a backup keeper, so it makes sense that fans will see the Belgian between the sticks next season.

As the winner of the last two seasons' Ricardo Zamora Trophies for the best goalkeeping performances in La Liga as well as comprising an integral part of the Atletico side that reached the Champion's League final, Courtois will be an exciting and promising addition to the Chelsea lineup.

Left back - César Azpilicueta

'Dave', as he is known to the Chelsea faithful, has truly been one of the 2013-2014 season's revelations. As a young enigmatic right-back arriving from Marseille in 2012 for a reported fee of £7m, not much was expected from him.

The Spaniard played a solid debut season under Roberto di Matteo and Rafa Benitez but it was under Jose Mourinho's fabled transformative influence that the defender really established himself as a world-class talent.

Indeed the right-footed left back performed so well that he managed to knock Ashley Cole, Chelsea legend and England's first choice for an age, from his lofty perch. Azpilicueta possesses great skill and speed going forward, capable of sprinting up the pitch and drilling in accurate crosses, as well as excellent defensive technique.

The left back is a player that emulates Mourinho's ethos: hard-working, selfless and ambitious, Azpilicueta is an absolute certainty for a starting place next season.

Centre back - John Terry

England's weak World Cup run seemed to sorely miss players of John Terry's calibre at Brazil. The Chelsea captain performed excellently in the 2013-2014 season, overcoming Rafa Benitez' doubts to establish himself as the Blues' first choice centre-back.

The former England captain has great technical ability and physicality and performs very consistently, making 228 clearances (per Squawka). However it is not just Terry's individual capabilities that make him perhaps the Premier League's best in his position, his leadership skills are evident on the pitch, with Chelsea generally tending to perform far better with their captain on the field.

News of Terry's contract extension will therefore have been welcome to fans and, given his form does not deteriorate through the season, he should be expected to start, owing to Chelsea's wonderful defensive success last season.

Centre back - Gary Cahill

One half of arguably the Premier League's best defensive partnership, Cahill has been nothing short of a revelation since his 2012 £7m transfer from Bolton. Defensively solid and possessing excellent knowledge and foresight on the pitch, Cahill is also able to represent a considerable threat in the other box, his aerial prowess also considerable.

He won an average of 67 percent of his defensive duels, compared to John Terry's 60 percent (according to Squawka), showing that certainly deserves his place in the Chelsea back line, Cahill is another 'undroppable' in Mourinho's squad.

Right back - Branislav Ivanović

Ivanović embodies consistency as the favoured Chelsea right back, a very different player to his opposite number (as well as direct competition) in César Azpilicueta.

Ivanović is a tougher player with great tackling ability, whilst also remaining useful in the opposition box (no more evident than his last-gasp winner against Benfica in the 2013 Europa League final). Possessing another excellent work rate, Ivanović will almost certainly be starting on the right for Chelsea if last season's performances are anything to judge by.

Centre mid - Nemanja Matić

There were criticisms of Chelsea's foolishness in resigning one of their former players from Benfica in the 2014 January transfer window, however they all seemed to vanish after Matić's excellent 'debut' outing against Manchester City.

The defensive midfielder put on an imperious display to simply dominate Yaya Touré. Successive appearances have left Premier League fans in no doubt as to the Serb's ability, able to bully any player of the ball and make the centre of the park his own.

Mourinho is a manager who builds attacking prowess on a base of defensive stability, which Matić has emerged to become an integral part of, making an average of six defensive actions per game, the highest of any non-defensive Chelsea player

Centre mid - Cesc Fàbregas

The first of Chelsea's blockbuster signings, Fabregas looks to have a bright future ahead of him at Stamford Bridge. The versatile Spaniard has been known to play all across the midfield as well as providing great attacking support in a 'false 9' position.

Cesc was also second only to Lionel Messi in the number of La Liga chances created last season, combined with an already creative attacking midfield and (hopefully) a clinical striker in Diego Costa, Fabregas may prove to be one of Chelsea's most important players over the coming season and turn out to be a truly inspired piece of business and an embarrassing miss for Arsenal.

Left winger - Eden Hazard

Who else but him? Chelsea's mercurial young Belgian had a stunning season over 2013-2014, providing tricks and flicks and entertainment for fans to revel in. His consistency may come under scrutiny however, especially after his comparatively dismal World Cup showing.

The Belgium international has additionally expressed his desire to continue improving to a level where he can comfortably compete with the world's best. If Mourinho continues to have the excellent developmental effect that he had on the winger last season, Hazard will come to represent a more complete player next season, with defensive responsibility as well as scintillating attacking ability, that will set the Premier League alight.

Centre attacking midfielder - Oscar

Oscar wilted a little as a player towards the end of last season, despite the confidence placed in him by the club in its selling of Juan Mata to Manchester United, as a result of fatigue.

However with a few weeks' break, Oscar has excelled at the World Cup, ensuring that he is still considered a world-class player. Oscar at his best has wonderful passing ability and tactical knowledge, able to turn the tide of a movement in one movement of his foot.

His eye for goal is also something to be marvelled at, his stellar effort against Juventus in the 2013 Champions League has firmly imprinted itself in the minds of the Chelsea faithful.

However at his worst, Oscar seems unable to contribute to either attack or defence and plays sloppy passes whilst neglecting to make the fantastic runs that he is known for. With a stronger squad next season, it will be interesting to see how the young Brazilian copes with the pressure of increased responsibility.

Right winger - Willian

Willian enjoyed an excellent debut season for the Blues, already a favourite before playing after having rejected a move to Tottenham in favour of the west Londoners, Willian's pace and effort is constantly evident.

He will sprint for the balls that his colleagues and opponents have abandoned and will look to make incisive runs at the opposition defence even past the 90th minute, he is a player that simply never gives up.

Added to this, his passing and crossing has also been good, with a respectable goal output also. He seems to enjoy great chemistry with his Brazilian team-mates and often plays his best football with Oscar and Ramires on the pitch. Willian's never-say-die playing style as well as his wonderful technical ability make him a valuable asset to Mourinho's side.

Striker - Diego Costa

Chelsea fans will be forgiven for harbouring some concern over the Spaniard's signing, he has enjoyed one good season for Atletico before which he had not been able to find his feet and millions watched his simply awful World Cup bid with Spain, in which he failed to take a single shot on goal, despite a host of opportunities presenting themselves.

However, if the striker retains the stunning form he displayed in La Liga, Chelsea will find themselves with a real gem on their hands. Costa managed to score a hugely impressive 27 goals in 35 appearances for his Spanish outfit, coming second only to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Blues fans will have to hope that Costa will be out to prove his doubters wrong. 

Honourable Mentions

Petr Cech - The long-serving Chelsea number 1 looks set to cede his place to Thibaut Courtois, although it is unlikely that he will lose it very easily. Expect Courtois' competition to be tougher than ever over the 2014-2015 season.

Kurt Zouma - The young French St Etienne graduate returns from another successful season in Ligue 1, however Chelsea are rumoured to be looking for a club to give him better Premier League experience on loan before allowing him to make the jump to Stamford Bridge

Tomas Kalas - Introduced late in the 2013-2014 season, starting notably and impressing against Liverpool, the young Czech will also likely need better regular experience and has been loaned to newly promoted Cologne for the duration of the season

Ryan Bertrand - As a perennial contender for a Chelsea place, Bertrand has never quite established himself, earning most success with Rafa Benitez (after his unforgettable Champion's League winning start against Bayern Munich in 2012), it seems that Jose Mourinho has not favoured the young English defender and he may be on his way out of Stamford Bridge

Marco van Ginkel - The young Dutch prospect was unfortunate to end his season after only a few weeks of availability with a long-term injury ruling him out of contention. The future seems bright for the versatile midfielder, but with the strength of the competition for his position, Van Ginkel may have to wait a little longer for his big break

Ramires - With great technical ability and breakneck pace, Ramires is perhaps my least confident exclusion from my predicted Chelsea squad. He is, without a doubt, an excellent player going forward, with interest reported from Real Madrid, but his consistency occasionally lets him down.

He has occasionally looked disinterested and subsequently makes mistakes, whilst his disciplinary record is poor (eight yellow cards and 1 red card over the 2013-2014 campaign). Ramires must strive to become a more complete player in order to solidify his starting place.

André Schürrle - Another difficult exclusion, but his place in the starting squad depends almost entirely on what player might be required for a given opponent. Whilst Willian, Oscar and Hazard provide stifling competition for the German forward, the trio are certainly more creative talents.

Schürrle provides a more direct attacking prowess, as evidenced by performances such as his second-half hat-trick against Fulham. Schürrle is certainly worthy of a starting place and can be easily substituted for a position on the wing.

Mohamed Salah - A pacy winger with plenty of potential, Salah showed promise on his rare appearances, however it appears that, with the capacity for only three attacking midfielders, Salah has simply been crowded out of the star-studded squad.

It appears unlikely that the Egyptian will make the jump to consistent first team football this coming season.

Romelu Lukaku - Lukaku has certainly impressed in another season on loan in the Premier League, bagging himself 15 goals in 31 appearances for Everton, however the young Belgian appears to be dissatisfied with the purchase of another big name for his position in Diego Costa and has voiced his discontent.

Lukaku most likely faces a season of playing second fiddle to Chelsea's new front man or another on loan. 

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Topics:
Chelsea
Francesc Fabregas
Romelu Lukaku
Ramires
Eden Hazard
Branislav Ivanovic
Premier League
Nemanja Matic
Football
John Terry

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DISCLAIMER

This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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