Premier League Preview: Chelsea

My Premier League previews continue with Chelsea the team that are now focused on. The current Premier League champions look as strong as ever as Carlo Ancelotti looks to retain the title.

A relatively quiet season for Chelsea has seen more departures than signings. Although Yossi Benayoun has been signed from Liverpool for a fee of £5 million, the Blues have let Joe Cole, Michael Ballack and Juliano Belletti go on free transfers. All three players have played big roles in the Chelsea side in the last few seasons but, Ancelotti looks to cut down the size of his squad, more players are expected to leave Stamford Bridge. Brazilian midfielder Ramires is expected to join from Benfica in the near future, with the fee believed to be around £17 million. Chelsea, though, have an incredibly strong squad.
            Their defensive line was criticised last season as captain John Terry was forced to battle with off-field problems, while Jose Bosingwa struggled with injury. Ricardo Carvalho had a slight dip in form but Ashley Cole seemed to be as strong as ever. This season, though, Chelsea will be hoping that these players get back to top-form, as they are the backbone to what is already a great side.
            Michael Essien should be back for Chelsea after he has finally overcome the injury that kept him out for most of last season and the recent World Cup. Deco could well leave the club in the coming weeks but John Obi Mikel is growing into a solid central midfielder, linking the defence and forwards. Florent Malouda and Yuri Zhirkov add some pace at attacking flair to a side that can now play a centralised style of football and wing-attack style, with youngster Nemanja Matic and Benayoun also able to attack down the sides. The main man, though, is Frank Lampard. The England midfielder has scored 105 goals in 320 league appearances for Chelsea, and the former West Ham midfielder will be looking to add to that already remarkable tally this season.
            Chelsea also look really good up front. Didier Drogba is strong and powerful and will certainly score goals for his side, while Nicolas Anelka, back from his embarrassing World Cup bust-up with ex-France national team manager Raymond Domenech, is creative and feeds off players such as Drogba and Lampard well. The link-ups between Lampard and the two front men could be key to Chelsea’s success this season.
            One to watch in the 2010/11 season is Franco Di Santo. The young striker went out on loan to Blackburn last season where he struggled to find goals in a side that lacked real creative spark; at Chelsea, he will certainly not be lacking in the supplying of crosses. Di Santo is now twenty-one years old and, after making twenty-five appearances for the Argentinean under-25 side, the forward will be looking to break into the Chelsea first team. Chelsea’s squad suggests that only their own complacency can stop them this season.
Where will they finish?: 1st
Official title odds: 17/10 (Paddy Power)
Star man: Frank Lampard
One to watch: Franco Di Santo
Main weakness: Possible complacency
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