Chelsea head into the new season with their 12th manager under Roman Abramovich. This time, the lucky man tasked with leading the West London side back to glory is Maurizio Sarri. After a summer full of drama featuring both players and coaches, Chelsea look to bring the Premier League trophy back to Stamford Bridge for the third time in five years.
What happened last season?
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Chelsea have a knack for winning titles, but also seem to melt down in some capacity during the season that follows their title triumphs. During the 2017/18 campaign, the Blues experienced yet another meltdown, thought not as big as previous years, and the performances on the pitch did not replicate that of a title-winning team.
The departure of pantomime villain Diego Costa saw Chelsea lose a world class striker who bagged key goals in both title triumphs in his time at Chelsea. Summer signings Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko struggled heavily in their debut campaigns in English football, meaning Chelsea regressed in the league.
The club's low point came as a 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth was quickly followed up with a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Watford, and from that moment on it seemed as though Antonio Conte gradually lost interest. An eventual fifth place finish meant Chelsea missed out on the Champions League places, but they managed to capture the FA Cup to top off a season to forget.
A summer of change
World Cup summers always give clubs trouble in the transfer market and this season in particular as the transfer market closed the week before the first round of Premier League games. For Chelsea, it was a summer of unnecessary drama as the managerial saga dragged on longer than they needed. After months of rumors, Antonio Conte was finally relieved of his duties and Maurizio Sarri of Napoli was called upon to lead the Blues forward.
Sarri wasn't the only one to swap Napoli for Chelsea as midfielder Jorginho completed a move to West London, despite links to Manchester City all summer. The 26-year old joined for a fee reportedly around £50 million, taking the number five shirt upon arrival.
After finally solving the managerial situation and making their first signing of the summer, Chelsea were tasked with warding off Real Madrid's interest in their stars, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois. Despite heavy links, Chelsea managed to hold on to the former but allowed Courtois to depart for the Spanish capital in a deal that also saw midfielder Mateo Kovacic join the Premier League side on a season-long loan.
The Blues also broke the bank in the goalkeeper department, bringing in Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for a world record fee. The 23-year old Spanish international replaces Courtois in the Chelsea goal and became the second goalkeeper to join the club this summer as Rob Green was brought in to become the third choice.
What to expect
Immediate success under Maurizio Sarri shouldn't be expected as it will take time for the new manager to implement his system. His distinct style of football will take some getting used to for some of the Chelsea players, but beautiful football will eventually be played at Stamford Bridge this season. While Chelsea have a knack for winning the title in their first season under a new manager, that feat looks a step too far, especially with the overwhelming Europa League schedule this season.
For Chelsea, a top four finish should be expected with the squad that Sarri has at his disposal and the pursuit of silverware outside of the Premier League title should be on the cards for the West London side.
Predicted Finish: 3rd. Chelsea may shock everyone and challenge for the title yet again, but expectations at Stamford Bridge will likely be to secure a Champions League place once again. A season for Sarri to implement his system, before they push on for bigger and better things in year two.