It’s here! The wait of more than two years . . err . . two months is over! On Saturday, we’ll play the first of the 38 important matches of this premier league season. The first match of this premier league season would be played at Stamford Bridge as we start the season with a noon-time kick off. Is Hull City a good opponent for a first match? I’d say so. Anyways, technically this is our second official match of the season. Our first opponent was the defending champions and we beat them fair and square. Hull City have made a couple of key signings in Jozy Altidore and Stephen Hunt.
Playing at Stamford Bridge, I guess Hull City would be happy with a draw. It’s public knowledge that we would play narrow 4-4-2 and I fear that Hull City might just be comfortable with that. When we play the teams from the bottom half of the bottom half, the best way to break them down is by stretching them and create spaces. Our narrow midfield would just be what the doctor ordered for Hull City. They could be more than willing to pack their defence and midfield and defend deep and defend compact. I’d expect that we’ll see more of the ball but it could be rather frustrating if we don’t try to be innovative. How much we will use our full backs is a something I’d love to see. In full flow, we might even see a 3-5-2 with the defensive midfielder dropping back.
There’s still some time to go to see who can play and who cannot. For now, it appears that Carlo has the whole squad minus Joe Cole to choose from. Talking about the squad, we seem to be very clear on what we want to do with the squad. The loaning of Di Santo, Sinclair and Mancienne seem to be very planned and calculated. Di Santo’s is a half season loan, so he would be back on the new year day of 2010 by which time the Africans will be packing their bags for the biggest football event (bigger than world cup?) of their continent. Mancienne is on a season long loan and if Riccy wants to leave next summer, Mancienne can fit right back in.
We seem to be keen on using the youngsters but we don’t want to risk our chances by playing them. That’s why all these youngsters are being loaned out to teams where they have a better chance of getting more pitch time. Gael Kakuta is injured but he is certainly one for the future. There is also a strong expectation that the 20-year old Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic would sign for Chelsea in the next few days. Plus, you have Sturridge who has come in and Kalou seems to be staying as well. And, you even have a young goalkeeper in Turnbull. Do you see that we are able to put together a very young but decent squad with good premier league experience sometime next season?
Coming back to the playing eleven for Saturday, I’d go with the best playing eleven possible. I’d put Essien back in defensive midfield and get Ballack to start in the right midfield where Essien did not find his feet last weekend. I’ll have Malouda start on the left midfield and as always have Lampard as the attacking tip. Anelka did not impress me in the last match but I’d still start with him as he had the knack of scoring goals against teams like Hull City. As far as the formation is concerned, there is no discussion. It is going to be narrow 4-4-2 diamond. Some people seem to be very uncomfortable with this formation primarily because this does not seem to play to our strengths. This formation seems to disregard the late season unbeaten run that was achieved in the last season. 4-3-3 was successful and we have the players to play and win in that formation. Anyway, the boss seems to be clear on what he wants. I’m fine as long as it works and wins. There was this opinion poll in the club website on which formation to use. Looks like we have started to embrace this unChelsea formation little earlier than expected.
I must admit that we are a bit lucky with our fixtures in first couple of months. Until the end of September, our list opponents reads as Hull City, Sunderland, Fulham, Burnley, Stoke City, Tottenham and Wigan. During the same period, Man Utd gets to play Arsenal, Man City and at White Hart Lane among other matches. So there’s a bright chance for Chelsea to lead the pack and pushing to become the winter champion. If this Chelsea team leads the table by some margin by Christmas, they will be the champions. That’s when the ‘players are old’ argument turns into ‘players are experienced’ adulation. As you had seen in my IKTS, I predict this match to be a 2-0 win for Chelsea. I expect Malouda and Drogba to score.
I didn’t even talk about Arsenal and Liverpool there. You know how much I admire Arsenal. Let them rot in hell while they get relegated. On a realistic note, I do honestly believe that Man City would finish fourth and assign Arsenal to Europa. And Liverpool are back with their ‘this would be our season’. Oh yes, this would be their season, to finish third. Jose Mourinho has made this term ‘zero tituli’ very famous in Italy. It was one of his typical snub to Ranieri to say that the Italian has won zero titles. After Inter won the league, Adidas even made and sold shirts that had the lines in Italian “Me – champion, you – zero titles”. It was a big hit there. That’s what to do for Liverpool too. They have won zero premier league titles. Yes, zero. We have won two. I don’t want to go back to pre-war periods and days of Elvis and Beatles to measure success. When we talk about Olympics, we don’t count the medals from the Greek civilisation, do we?
Ok, I’m itching to talk about this now. Few days back in the comments section, I saw that JoseHoliday was making a reference to the Himalayan sun bears and how manures in the new jersey look like them. I didn’t quite understand that then. But when I googled to see some images of sun bears, I couldn’t stop laughing. So here is my little photoshop work to substantiate JoseHoliday’s claim. It’s a pity that the sun bear does not have a sponsor, otherwise he would have matched Rio every inch. Credit to you JH, let sun bears be synonymous with Manchester Town
In the last blog, I had said that we should reach the 100 mark by this weekend in the BlueChampions fantasy league. I must say I underestimated you guys! We are 115 already! Keep it going! Surprisingly, I find so many non-Chelsea fans signing up in this mini-league. Very surprising and interesting. By Sunday, we will have the first rounds of fantasy league results and the IKTS scores. I’d say the IKTS is more challenging than the fantasy league. Why don’t you come up with our IKTS predictions. You know mine. Let’s see how we fare!
So we start another premier league season at BlueChampions. This is the fourth season start here at BlueChampions. Ironically, since this blog was started, we have not won the premier league. I want Chelsea to win the league. And I want all of us to celebrate that together, right here! Let’s have a great season guys! May this season be filled with peace, joy and trophies for Chelsea FC. I’ll leave you all with Michael Essien’s words:
We are the Champions at the end of the season; ENJOY THE SEASON BECAUSE WE WILL.