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Riding the Blue Wave

A Glimpse at Chelsea FC's Prospects this Season

By Pradyut Hande

I write this article minutes after Chelsea FC came back from 1-2 down to clinch a resounding
4-2 victory over a spirited Reading side in their second game of the recently underway 2012-13 English Premier League (EPL) season. As an ardent Chelsea supporter, I can pump my fists and celebrate in glee; but I also know that this is just the beginning of a long, arduous season rife with expectation and promise. Are they up for it?

After clinching the UEFA Champions Trophy and the FA Cup last season, Chelsea have been riding the blue waves of success, basking in their glory. They may have finished a deplorable (by their standards) 6th in the EPL but that didn't deter them from treading the path of resilience, fortitude and fortune to emerge victors in those two competitions. The Trophy cabinets may have been recipients of sterling new silverware and the dressing rooms may have been buoyant, but the players would be the first to openly admit to their glaring weaknesses and well documented inconsistency. Despite their success, the Club had to chart out a calibrated future course of action to address their shortcomings and revitalize their ageing squad.

A real Hazard to defenders!
The departure of talismanic Striker, Didier Drogba has certainly left a major void in the side. Additionally, the departures of Jose Bosingwa and Soloman Kalou compelled Chelsea to seek out suitable substitutes to further bolster their squad. Thus, with a proactive owner in Roman Abramovich and a sound bank account to boot; Chelsea have procured the services of sprightly talents such as Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar amongst its ranks. There maybe a couple more players coming in before the closure of the transfer window which would lend the squad with a greater degree of stability. In addition to the new recruits, Chelsea have made a prudent decision in offering a one year contract extension to the incumbent Manager, Roberto di Matteo. Standing in as an interim Manager last season, after the abrupt sacking of Andres Villas-Boas; di Matteo impressed one and all with his personnel management, uncluttered approach, tactical prowess and motivational skills to inspire a severely beleaguered outfit to soar towards the pinnacle of success and silverware. Thus, his presence and performance is critical to Chelsea's fortunes this season. With a spectacular wealth of talent at his disposal, di Matteo is sure to have his hands full whilst identifying the ideal team formation and composition. Also, it is imperative for the new recruits to quickly adapt to the English game, if they are to stamp their authority and make good on their promise. Star Belgian Winger, Eden Hazard has already made a robust start to his sojourn as a Chelsea man in the first couple of games; providing a majority of the assists that translated into goal scoring opportunities.

Thus, suitable squad selection and rotation would be of great significance. Chelsea require
Will it finally be his season?
to be more consistent, both at home and away. They also need to relegate profligacy and a well chronicled penchant of conceding "soft" goals at inopportune moments to the backburner. They ought to retain confidence in under-performing Striker, Fernando Torres upfront. Being a player who feeds on the staple diet of confidence; Torres ought to be handed greater responsibility in the absence of Drogba. In Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Ramires and Eden Hazard they have a reliable and creative midfield while the defense lies in the safe hands of John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole primarily. With Petr Cech manning the goal, the Chelsea starting eleven certainly does look imposing on paper. However, there is major difference between potential and performance. I, for one, sincerely hope that Chelsea are able to leverage their available resources judiciously, capitalise on their momentum and focus with new found vigor and confidence on winning every single game...the Trophies will subsequently follow.

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Pradyut Hande
The Writer is a Business student with a degree from NMIMS, Mumbai. He is presently working as a Senior Executive with a leading Public Relations firm in Mumbai. He has over 200 publications to his credit in some of the leading national dailies and weekly magazines across the country. He is also a keen Debater, Munner, Quizzer, Painter and Amateur Freestyle Rapper. His other interests include Sports, Music, Reading, Travelling and Social Entrepreneurship


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