Jose Mourinho managed to survive year one of his second term as Chelsea manager. While rocky at times, the team had a good showing although it did not win any trophies. If they fail to win a major trophy this time, the season will be a failure.
The team is too good for anything else. The truth is that Chelsea did not need too much improvement. There didn't seem to be room for much. The west London side tore down walls though and created room for a better squad than what anyone expected.
After pillaging and ransacking Atletico Madrid for their most prized assets, Chelsea broke up the world's best defence to elevate theirs to an elite level.
It seems more and more likely that Thibaut Courtois is going to stay at Chelsea next year. Upgrading Petr Cech is nearly impossible but Chelsea did just that with Courtois return from loan, a top five goalkeeper in the world at 22.
Filipe Luis (also coming from the same Champions League runners up) is a big upgrade from ageing Ashley Cole (who is on his way to Roma) or out-of-position Cesar Azpilicueta.
Luis is a safe, smart defender who is strong in the tackle and very physical. He does not get forward like Chelsea full-backs from the past, but he will lock down the left side of defence.
Strength and depth
Finally, the defence added 19-year-old Kurt Zouma after his loan to St. Etienne. He will take on a lot of responsibility for his age, but looks ready as he has been a first-team starter In Ligue 1 for some time.
The back line looks to be a varied mix of youth, skill, experience, and strength. With the help of defensive midfielders and Courtois (or Cech) in goal, Chelsea will be nearly impossible to score on.
Luis comes in for €20 million, and David Luiz was sold for €50 million. Different players but still great business for Chelsea, as the fuzzy-haired Brazilian (who was out of favour with Mourinho and struggled at the World Cup) was sent to PSG in a lucrative move for the Blues.
Smart transfer business
Chelsea got rid of Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o as well, with Ba leaving to Turkish side Bestikas for €6 million and Samuel Eto'o roaming the market as a free agent. They hope to have solved their long-term striker problem with the addition of one more Atletico Madrid man, Diego Costa.
The once Brazilian, now Spanish striker led the Atleti attack and finished 3rd in La Liga scoring charts with 27 goals. Chelsea secured him early in the offseason for €49.5 million.
Costa will hope to replicate his club form for the new boss, and erase the memories of Spain's humiliation in the World Cup. Whether or not he can, he will still likely be more productive than the outgoing duo of Eto'o and Ba, which is not saying too much. Check off getting a new striker on the to-do list.
Finally, Chelsea managed to kill two birds with one stone. They frustrated Arsenal (something they always seem to enjoy) by signing former Gunner Cesc Fabregas, and therefore locked in their midfield as the best in the Premier League.
Fabregas may never have totally hit top form for Barcelona, but backing up Xavi and Andres Iniesta is in no way an insult. He will be able to control the game offensively for Chelsea, picking out runs or going at defences alone. He has the ability to put in goals as well, having served as a false nine. Let's not forget about players like Marko Marin and Christian Atsu as well, returning from loan.
All of the aforementioned players are not Chelsea's entire team, they are just additions to an already incredible roster. So let's think of a starting line-up and some key bench players just to show how balanced and good this team is.
In goal you have two of the best in the world: Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois. The defence is set and Chelsea probably has the two best full-backs in the Premier League with Filipe Luis and Branislav Ivanovic.
Azpilicueta is a very capable replacement for either barring injury. John Terry and Kurt Zouma will probably split reps and Gary Cahill will be the anchor. A more than solid defence that, when beaten, will most likely have Courtois to clean up the mess. The big defence will be dangerous on set pieces and corners as well.
In midfield, Chelsea is filled with talent. Fabregas will be an everyday starter and Nemanja Matic, a favourite of Mourinho who showed why last year, will be used to anchor the back line.
In attack, Oscar will use his creativity to create goals and chances from the front. Ramires and John Obi Mikel will fill in for these players when needed. On the left will be Eden Hazard while on the right, it is anyone's guess. Willian, Andre Schurrle (who will be tough to ignore after his spectacular performances in Brazil), and Mohamed Salah will all see significant time as wide-men, and could switch from left to right.
Atsu and Victor Moses could also fill a role in less important matches.
Striker is very straight forward. Costa will start and Fernando Torres will be his backup, assuming Mourinho's illogical reason to keep Romelu Lukaku away from the side holds up.
The line-up is comprised of Europe's best, many taken from Atletico Madrid, last year's La Liga champions ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Every position is filled at the starting spot and has cover from backups in case of injury or fatigue.
So are they the best team in the world? In terms of best XIs, no. Both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have more talent in that aspect (Barcelona's defence is too weak at this point for them to be considered as good as these three).
However, Chelsea has more depth and is more balanced than either team, and does not rely on any one player too much. Chelsea has every position covered with a backup plan. Whereas Real Madrid would struggle to win without Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, or Cristiano Ronaldo,
Who is better?
Chelsea can replace Hazard with Schurrle or Costa with Torres. Bayern would be in a similar predicament if Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, or Franck Ribery was hurt or unable to play.
Mourinho might be a controversial figure, but his managerial tactics are not. Therefore, Chelsea are, at the moment, the world's best team due to their depth and balance. They should be favourites for the Premier League and are also contenders in the Champions League as well.
Start getting accustomed to Chelsea making the rest of the world blue.
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