With the season having drawn to a rather anti-climatic ending, we have seen a once promising season turn somewhat sour with our lack of silverware. We have nothing to really celebrate about, but much to be excited about. And here’s a look at some of Chelsea’s up-for-grabs positions in the new season ahead. Just a note, I will not be analyzing Chelsea’s transfer targets due to the incipience of the transfer window. I have also omitted the strikers position because of the uncertainty surrounding the futures of all 3 of our strikers (excluding the departing Eto’o ) and the impending arrival of a big-name striker like Costa, that make it really hard to make a decision.
Goalkeeper – Cech vs Courtois
Well, what more is there to say. Courtois came in 4th in the FIFPro Goalkeeper Rankings 2013, a mere 10 points and 1 position behind our one and only Petr Cech. With 2 of the world’s best 4 goalkeepers, Mourinho will not be just be having a selection dilemma, he’ll be having one hell of it. Debate over the last 2 seasons has been very heated and well-publicized, and I’ll leave it up to you to make your own decision. But while Cech is still, and probably would still be for the next 5-10 years, one of the world’s finest keepers, my opinion is that we can’t pass up the chance of establishing Courtois in our Starting XI. At 21 years of age, losing him to Atletico, Barca or Madrid would be disastrous, and this might be the last chance we get at bringing him home. I definitely wouldn’t mind Cech and Courtois challenge for the No. 1 for 1 season to allow the latter to settle in, just like De Gea and Lloris at United and Spurs. But no matter what happens, Cech will always remain in the hearts of every Chelsea fan.
Left Back – Bertrand vs Azpi vs Van Aanholt
What a pity it is the Cole looks set to leave. It seemed inevitable that he would eventually be displaced in Chelsea’s squad, but leaving the squad on a free transfer without being able to impart any of his knowledge and experience to his full-time successor was really a waste. Our left back debate has usually centered around Cole vs Bertrand, but the departure of the former has set the stage for a more intriguing battle. The signing of Luke Shaw would consign all these analyses to the trash, but what I’m working with here are Chelsea’s current crop of players. Azpilicueta, while excelling as Chelsea’s primary left back, needs to revert to the right sooner or later, especially considering the fact that he is right-footed, so for me he is not really a long term option. Bertrand is a really interesting option, giving Chelsea fan’s the hope that they had groomed Ashley Cole’s successor during his Champions League Final cameo before dwindling to his current predicament. His loan spell at Villa Park has not had Chelsea fans dreaming again, but I don’t think he is a viable, quality option.
That leaves us with Patrick van Aanholt. His Vitesse spell has seen him put in some rather impressive shifts, earning a Whoscored.com rating of 7.11, and with age on his side, he can definitely develop into one of Chelsea’s finest full backs. His attacking endeavours have bestowed him with 4 goals , and another 3 assists, from 29 appearances, claiming the best scoring and assist record of Chelsea’s defenders this season (although some may argue he is playing in a weaker league). Nonetheless, I think that he deserves a run in Chelsea’s first team to at least prove himself. Azpi would always provide reliable cover for left-back should either of our youngsters not live up to the standard required. If we don’t get any ready-made replacements like Luke Shaw, our best bet would be this young Flying Dutchman.
The Pivot – Luiz vs Mikel vs van Ginkel vs Ramires
Nemanja Matic importance to the team cannot be undermined, thus I will be restricting our candidates to our remaining central midfielders – who are all vying for that spot beside Matic. Jose Mourinho looks likely to bring an end to Mikel’s illustrious Chelsea career, and his 11 starts this season is evident that Mourinho doesn’t favour him anymore. It is very unlikely that Mikel manages to convince his boss otherwise, and with reports suggesting he could be on his way to Inter Milan, I’m steering away from picking him as Matic’s partner. Luiz is another of those player’s that divide opinion, and his displays in midfield 2 seasons past, in our Europa League run-in, were so impressive and remains one of Benitez’s most tactically astute moves. Yet, he has once again failed to live up to his billing last season, lacking the vision, passing ability and eye for goal that mesmerized the world, and I would prefer moving him back to defense, leaving him as a backup should one of our midfielders be unavailable.
Ramires and Marco van Ginkel provide 2 very contrasting propositions. On one hand, we have a midfielder in his prime, the tried-and-tested method, but putting in rather dispirited shifts towards the business end of last season. Then we have our young Dutch prodigy, signed to develop into a Frank-Lampard mould player but suffering an unfortunate injury very early into his Chelsea career. Judging solely from his performances for Vitesse, I would definitely choose van Ginkel over Ramires, who is reverting back to his old standards after a spell of playing some of the best football in the team. But the risk that he poses are too high, considering that he is unproven for a big club, and is yet to truly understand the difficulties of the Premier League. Personally, I would definitely prefer to get a youngster into the squad, like Josh McEachran, over another new signing, but it would be impossible for one to fit in seamlessly into the first team. As such, I feel that Matic and Ramires, with Ginkel, Luiz and McEachran as backups, would be our ideal pivot pairing.
With that, I have come to the end of my analysis. Hope you enjoyed it. #ktbffh