The Chelsea season 2013-2014 kicks off in a little under 2 weeks against newly promoted Hull City. The game provides the club with a perfect opportunity to get off to a flyer. Chelsea’s preseason has gone according to plan so far and as the players regain their match fitness and dust off the cobwebs, the hunger to play a competitive game must be growing in them. Of the three sides that have come up from the Championship, Hull have been the least impressive in their transfer window dealings, a worry for the club’s chances of retaining their Premier League status. On paper, the game is as one sided as they get [Unless you are part of a match fixing scandal in Nigeria] but the first game of the season has been known to throw in the odd surprise result. The live event kicks off on Sunday August 18th at Stamford Bridge.
International friendlies taking place a few days before may be a blessing in disguise for Jose Mourinho as it likely saves him from the headache of deciding who to play, as he already seems set on at least resting the Spanish contingent who make their way to Ecuador and Mourinho feels the rest time between their arrival back into the country and the season opener isn’t sufficient enough to risk the players. This does however give the opportunity to some of the younger players to impress with Mata and Torres likely to be omitted from the first match day XI. The likes of Lukaku, Moses and De Bruyne will look at the first game as a way for them to make their mark with a rescheduled game against Villa right round the corner. There still however will remain a few positions that Mourinho will have to decide who he thinks are the most suitable candidates for the first game, particularly in the central midfield area. The Portuguese manager has already admitted that he will have to limit the amount of games Frank Lampard participates in and with the midfielder having missed the entirety of the preseason so far, he looks set to be excluded, leaving the likely two man midfield a four way race between; Essien, Mikel, van Ginkel and Ramires who look set to battle it out amongst each other [Not physically of course, Essien would win with one arm behind his back]. At centre back, there is a similar conundrum with Cahill, Terry and Luiz looking to contest a starting berth with Ivanovic likely to feature at right back if Azpilicueta makes the trip to Ecuador.
Mourinho won’t take the opposition’s strength, or lack of, for granted as this won’t be the first time he has taken charge of an opening day fixture for Chelsea against a side that had elevated itself from the championship, back then it was against recently promoted [Now recently relegated] Wigan Athletic and only an injury time screamer from Hernan Crespo saved the club from a mildly embarrassing start. Whilst it isn’t much of an omen to go on, but for the superstitious amongst you, Chelsea went on to win the league that season.