As Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions back in May, Chelsea have been one of the most disappointed rival clubs as their title hopes ended. Along with Liverpool, Jose Mourinho‘s men proved to be the biggest competition for City, but dropping points, in games they really should have won, cost them dearly in the end.
Chelsea dropped those points because they really struggled against teams who defended deep and demanded them to take the initiative. Against fellow rivals, who were happy to openly attack Chelsea, wins were more easy to come by, but as soon as a less talented team decided to defend vigorously and deny any space, Chelsea struggled and crucial points were dropped on a number of occasions.
That should be one of the main areas of focus for Mourinho in this window, and with his main signings so far being Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona and striker Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid, that issue has gone someway to being addressed, but only partially to this point.
Costa will fill the desperate void that Chelsea had in the striker position last season. Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba failed miserably when it came to doing their job — scoring goals — and put severe pressure on the Chelsea defense at times. Costa is a goalscorer first and foremost, but he also brings other attributes to the table which will help the team. He is obviously a physical presence, but he is still capable of dropping deeper and getting involved in build-up play at times with the clever touches he is capable of, and the good awareness he has of his teammates on the pitch.
His movement is exceptional and he will prove a real handful, not only physically, but also mentally as he tests defender’s concentration with his intelligent movement in and around the 18 yard box. Costa is also a big threat aerially too, but giving him service in that respect will continue to prove a challenge for Chelsea, as it did last season. Chelsea lack any width in the team, and so far, they have not really solved that issue this summer.
Their wide players, Eden Hazard and Willian, generally tuck inside and congest the game, and against deep sitting teams, this really hurt Chelsea’s ability to break their opponents down last season. In that scenario, they need to go around the defense but they just don’t have the players to do so. Even the fullbacks of Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic do not provide any real width, so perhaps Costa will not be receiving as many crosses as he would like for him to attack. It’s an area to keep an eye on, though, and Felipe Luis could aid that particular cause if he indeed also joins from Atletico.
Chelsea made one of the biggest headline signings of the window so far when they signed Fabregas from Barcelona. The team needed more goals from alternate areas of the pitch and Fabregas will certainly provide that, among other things. Chelsea have some dangerous attackers in Costa, Hazard, Willian, Oscar and Andre Schurrle, and Fabregas has the kind of vision, intelligence and passing ability to give those players the ball in the areas they can do the most damage.
Fabregas will also have a player next to him in the midfield who should prove a fitting foil for him in Nemanja Matic; a duo which will form one of the best central midfield partnerships in the league. Overall, Mourinho will be happy with his incoming transfer business at this stage, although more players will still surely be pursued.
Left-back Luis will be a good addition if he joins, but more width should still be on the agenda if possible. It’s not quite a necessity, but it is an issue which should ideally be addressed in the remainder of the transfer window, if Chelsea want the best chance possible to usurp City next season.