Friday 19 January 2018

CHELSEA: Transfers, predictions, best XI and fixtures

Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa share a joke before a pre season friendly at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa share a joke before a pre season friendly at Stamford Bridge

John Percy

Jose Mourinho’s little horses will be thoroughbreds this season and, by the Chelsea manager’s own admission, back in contention for the Premier League title.

Last season may have been excruciating at times for the newly rebranded ‘Happy One’, with the squad he inherited lacking in key areas.

Never more was the weakness evident than up front as Chelsea struggled to win tight games due to their absence of a goalscorer. This summer, however, Mourinho has undertaken extensive surgery to his squad to create a lean, Blue Machine at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa is the game-changer, while the signing of Cesc Fabregas has led to Mourinho purring that the former Arsenal midfielder is the final part of the engine.

The future of Petr Cech appears in doubt but when you have a goalkeeper as highly regarded as Thibaut Courtois – and 10 years younger – it would be foolish not to use him.

Despite the wave of optimism sweeping around Chelsea, there is undoubtedly pressure on Mourinho. After being given so much backing this summer, which included the sale of Romelu Lukaku, he must deliver the club’s first title since 2010.

Manager: Jose Mourinho.

Best starting XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luis; Ramires, Matic; Hazard, Fabregas, Oscar; Costa.

Chelsea's Diego Costa celebrates scoring his first goal against Real Sociedad during their friendly soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London, August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Prediction: Chelsea are destined for the top two this season but only first will do for Mourinho.


In: Diego Costa (Atlético Madrid, £32m), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona, £27m), Filipe Luis (Atlético Madrid, £15.8m), Mario Pasalic (Hajduk Split, £2.4m), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray).

Out: David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain, £50m), Romelu Lukaku (Everton, £28m), Demba Ba (Besiktas, £4.7m), Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland, Undisclosed), Ashley Cole (Roma), Sam Hutchinson (Sheffield Wednesday), Frank Lampard (New York City), Tomas Kalas (Cologne, Loan), Wallace (Vitesse Arnhem, Loan), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Loan), Bertrand Traore (Vitesse, Loan), Cristián Cuevas (Club Universidad de Chile, Loan), Mario Pasalic (Elche, Loan), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, Loan), Gael Kakuta (Rayo Vallecano, Loan), John Swift (Rotherham United, Loan), Oriol Romeu (Chelsea, Loan).

Released: Samuel Eto'o, Henrique Hilario, Milan Lalkovic, Adam Nditi, Daniel Pappoe, Jhon Pírez.

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