Thanks to the members from CFC.net for participating (thread here)
Now that Drogba has gone, is Torres the man to take up the mantle?
- Harvz: Drogba is irreplaceable both in terms of stature and style. You can have a silky smooth striker putting them away regularly, but not much compares to the way Drogba used to take a game by the scruff of the neck and bully it into submission. Torres is his own man. In terms of goal scoring… only time will tell. We’d love him to put away 30 in the league, and now with the new lads supplying the passes, maybe he will. Either way he’ll divide opinion. That much is inevitable given Drogba’s legacy.
- GJH: No. His own basic errors (recognising when and when not to make runs) prevent this. I think he’ll have a decent return this season but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if by this time next year he had effectively been replaced.
- Chedaki: Well I’ll be very surprised if we are in for Hulk or Cavani, think it’s all talk really… So it’s more the point that Torres is the one we are relying on. Whether he will step up to the plate, think only time will tell. But Drogba was irreplaceable, and might be up to some other players to provide a moment of magic, not just Torres.
Is this to be a season of evolution from the Old Guard (Drogba, Malouda, Kalou), to the new (Hazard, Oscar, Torres) or is that going to take time?
- Harvz: RDM has said it will be gentle evolution. I think most of us expect exactly that. We saw what happens when you go too quickly with it, and given how many legends are still in the team, that still would be a bad idea. I think I expect a few more games like the one against Reading. Attacking flare, because we almost can’t avoid it with the players we’ve brought in, but the trade off will be opportunities for the opposition. As long as we keep winning games, the transition should be relatively calm. If we lose a few in a row, I’d expect Plan B to be the last few season’s Plan A, minus Drogba.
- GJH: Two of the first three are no longer present, so I’m not sure we have much of a choice in the matter with regards to our forwards. 31 isn’t exactly old for a defender, so I expect Terry and Cole will have at least two more seasons, as much as people like to think they won’t. Personally I believe It would be best to assess Lampard’s situation season by season from now on.
- Evolution is never a quick process and we can only accurately judge such a thing over a longer space of time.
- Chedaki: Well the ‘Old Guard’ is still here (JT, Cech, Lamps), but yes I do believe there will be evolution but not as drastic as AVB was trying to implement.
Do you think DiMatteo is the right man to take the club forward? Or was his winning the Champions League and the FA Cup just a case of being in the right place at the right time?
- Harvz: Again time will tell. But he definitely earned the shot. He’s a young manager so he’s learning on the job. I think whether he is successful will rely how quickly he does that, and almost as importantly, luck. As we’ve seen very clearly already. But again, whether he is or isn’t successful at Chelsea from this point is almost immaterial (to me) at this point in time. He deserves to be sitting in the dugout as the main man.
- GJH: Well either way, he certainly earned a shot at it. My biggest question would be whether he can build a team capable of playing coherently, with a recognisable style of play whilst winning trophies. Anything more and we’re just guessing.
- Chedaki: I really hope so. Finally have a manager who is here for what he has achieved at the club, rather than going what a manager has achieved elsewhere. Certainly agree was a bit right time right place, however if Avram Grant had won the CL still didn’t think he would have lasted the distance. Hope DiMatteo is giving a bit more of a chance, but finally getting the cup with the big ears has massively taken the pressure off now.
Which Chelsea player do you predict will have a big season?
- Harvz: Hazard is the easy one to go for at this point. But prior to the season beginning I would have said Mikel. He needs to step up to the plate, but if he ever had a chance to stand out for what he does best (shielding and simple passing out of trouble), that moment is now. We have so many smaller attack minded players ahead of him now that we’ll rely on him much more than before. It could go either way for Mikel, as many fans will happily tell you, but I have a feeling that he’ll figure it out sooner rather than later.
- GJH: I’d like to see Luiz have a consistent season but I think he has too much of a reputation for that to be widely acknowledged. My actual answer would be Hazard though.
- Chedaki: While Hazard is the obvious choice. The way Oscar is slotting in think he could be vital during the course of the season.
Which Chelsea player do you predict will have a disappointing season?
- Harvz: Difficult to say. If the team does well then ‘disappointing’ is probably best measured by how many games you don’t play. If the year is an unsuccessful one, then it probably goes on who can we blame the most for it. In the first scenario I would imagine Meireles won’t play as much as he’d like. If its the second, I think a lot of blame will fall on Mikel. Whether that is fair or not is highly debatable, but unfortunately for him that’s the nature of the relationship many fans have with him.
- GJH: Depends on what you mean by disappointing. There are a number who might see more of the bench this year. Could be Essien however I’d be most worried if it was Sturridge. Potentially a very good player but he has obstacles to overcome. Making the most of the opportunities he is given is key.
- Chedaki: Ferreira, since he will only get a look in from the bench during the Capital One Cup Actually think JT might have a bit of a wayward season, and injuries might finally catch up with him.
What’s a realistic aim for Chelsea this season? Where have you strengthened to achieve this?
- Harvz: Anywhere between 2nd and 4th is realistic. I don’t think we’ll win it. We’ve clearly strengthened our attacking midfield slots, and we’ll probably begin as strong in defence as we were last year (with a signing or two). Unlocking stubborn defences will be easier with the likes of Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Sturridge and Marin on the pitch. Whether we do enough when we get past them is the question. Defensively we need to tighten up a lot, but that should get sorted sooner rather than later – we have the players for it.
- GJH: I think CL qualification and either the League or FA Cup wouldn’t be out of reach. The most obvious improvement is the midfield, particularly the three AMs. In Hazard, Marin, Mata and Oscar, there’s a sense of interchangeability and a natural fluidity because they’re going to have the capacity to attack from just about any angle. Both during and between games, that flexibility benefits the team and manager. Others like Ramires are free to play deeper and we’ll surely see Sturridge as a striker more frequently.
- Chedaki: Top 3 I’d say. Finally have so
Who will win the Premier League this year and why?
- Harvz: Hate to say it, but I think City will keep their crown. If things are not going well by January, but they are still in with a shout, they’ll buy a player or two that will change things for them.
- GJH: City if they strike the right balance. I don’t want to oversimplify the issue but if they get too adventurous and ignore the importance of defending, United will be there to steal it. I’ll add that I think we have an outside chance but nothing I’d get my hopes up over.
- Chedaki: Think Man City might get it again, but doubt with the same amount of points. Always teams try harder against the champions, and they were quite unlucky to be drawn in the group of death in the CL, and there is no doubt they will be firmly focused on having a better run this season.
How do you see the top 6 panning out? and why?
- Harvz: City, Chelsea,Manure,Arsenal,Newcastle,Sp*rs/L*verpool. Just a feeling.
- GJH: Assuming Di Matteo and the club have more of a focus on doing well in the league this season. Manchester,Arsenal/Chelsea,Newcastle,Liverpool/Spurs, Although I fully expect that prediction to be wrong, Villas-Boas is the most significant change here imo. He talks as if he has learned very little and continues to favour one whole half of football at the expense of the other.
- Chedaki: Man C,Chelsea,Man Utd,Arse,Newcastle,Spurs. Pretty self-explanatory, The usual suspects up the top. And no matter what happens, Arsenal are always close come the end of the season.
Which teams will be relegated and why?
- Harvz: Tough call. Who I’d have picked to go down before the season and who I’d probably pick now are very different. Think it will come down to the wire again this year – and lady luck will decide.
- GJH: I genuinely don’t know. It’s a shame QPR escaped it last season. It may very well be as close as it has ever been. Could come down to the six pointers.
- Chedaki: Only going on one set of games. Norwich, QPR and Reading. It will go down to 1 or 2 points. Just won’t be able to maintain it during the whole season.
Which new Premier League players are you looking forward to seeing?
- Harvz: Other than Chelsea lads, probably Kagawa, Michu and the flashier lads from the promoted teams.
- GJH: Outside of Chelsea it’d have to be Michu and Cazorla.
- Chedaki: Cazorla from Arsenal already looks good, and Kagawa form Man U looks the biz.
Which Newcastle players are you worried about?
- Harvz: Cisse, for obvious reasons. Ben Arfa as well. But worried is probably an expression too far. Good players, but we should be handling them at home.
- GJH: I’m not fully aware who’s available. Mostly Ba and Cissé. Far from being the only influential players, they just don’t make things easy! Cissé’s finishing in any area is exceptional and Ba always seems to turn up at the right time. Seems like we’re having a bit of trouble with aerial threats right now too.
- Chedaki: Ben Arfa, since he really did give Spurs the run around, quality player.
Finally, what do you reckon the score will be?
- Harvz: 3:2 to the Chels. Hazard to score. Cisse and Ba for your lot.
- GJH: 2:2
- Chedaki: Lots of near misses and exciting moments…. Ending in a close fought 1-nil to us.