With the tour of Asia complete, the start of the season draws ever nearer and Chelsea under Mourinho have looked near on faultless, even if the opposition has been below the standard they will face. Chelsea have strengthened the squad with the additions of Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer, the three provide adequate cover and in the cases of the first two, genuine competition to the starting XI. There is also the Mourinho factor, the return of the now self proclaimed ‘Happy One’ brings an air of belief not only with the fans but more importantly, the players. Is everyone as confident as the squad themselves? Premier League outright odds place Chelsea as 9/4 favourites ahead of the two Manchester clubs and with the potential signing of Wayne Rooney, now may be the best time to back the Blues for the title and their 4th under Abramovich.
It isn’t only the arrival of new signings that has boosted confidence within Chelsea but the return of loanees. Kevin de Bruyne has impressed in pre season before suffering an ankle injury that ruled him out of the last game in the Asia Tour but the Belgian is expected to rejoin the club as they fly to America, however it is the return of Michael Essien that promises the greatest impact on the team. Often outplayed and out muscled in midfield, a revitalised Michael Essien ensures that is an unlikely event to occur this season. The Bison blends technical ability with an unbeatable physical presence that was severely lacking in the Chelsea midfield last season. Mourinho’s faith in his most trusted lieutenant has brought the confidence back in one of Chelsea’s longest serving players.
Another loanee from last season that promises big things in the coming season is Romelu Lukaku, the 20 year old netted 17 times last season for West Brom and showed that given a run of games he can perform at the highest level and with the level of service at Chelsea an infinite upgrade on what exists at the Hawthorns, defenders across England (and Wales) will have their hands full against the player, many feel will eventually be the successor to Didier Drogba.
Mourinho has emphasised his confidence in the young squad and whilst he feels they will not reach their potential this season, there is still more than enough quality in the ranks already to secure the title. Owner Roman Abramovich made a concerted effort along with technical director Michael Emenalo to recruit young players that had the world at their feet. Last season’s purchases of Eden Hazard and Oscar represent two of the world’s most talented attacking talents who will provide Chelsea the ammunition for whoever may lead the line come the start of the season. On the other side of the field, Mourinho has pinpointed David Luiz as the heart of his defence, debate still surrounds the Brazilian as to what many think his best position is and whether he even will feature in Mourinho’s plans but the Chelsea manager made it clear that someone of Luiz’s ability “Has to play, always”, Chelsea’s defence is not the impenetrable fortress it was in his first spell at the club but Petr Cech still stands in between the goalposts and following arguably his best season at the club since his first season, the season ahead looks very bright.