After former owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government due to alleged links with Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin, American Todd Boehly acquired the club for a staggering $3.2 billion in 2022.
The London club made heads turn in the previous summer transfer window, signing 15 players and spending close to $600 million. But it failed to capitalise on the acquisitions and ended up 12th on the Premier League table.
To amend its bloated squad, Chelsea saw a complete overhaul this season as well, letting go of its core players such as Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz.
With the arrival of an array of players and the critically acclaimed Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea would hope for a Champions League finish in the upcoming season that starts on August 12, with Arsenal taking on Nottingham Forest.
Pochettino’s first Premier League assignment will be against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Sportstar takes a look at the possible starting lineup for the Blues:
Chelsea is in a tricky situation with regards to its primary goalkeeper option. Spaniard Kepa Arrizabalaga, who arrived for a record-breaking transfer fee for a Premier League goalkeeper in 2018 for £72million, will be Chelsea’s No.1 custodian as things stand. With Edouard Mendy’s move to the Saudi Pro League, Chelsea is left with just Kepa and new recruit Robert Sanchez, who was signed from Brighton.
Kepa was far from his best last season and struggled to stop anything from outside the box. The 28-year-old conceded 33 goals in 29 appearances last season. His future at the club though, is uncertain with brewing interest from Bayern Munich.
Although Gabriel Slonina could be an option, his lack of experience in the English league might tempt Pochettino to send him on loan elsewhere. For all we know, his next destination might be Ligue 1 side Strasbourg, which is part of Chelsea’s multi-club project.
Going by the usual 4-2-3-1 formation that Pochettino prefers, Reece James as right-back will be an instant pick. The 23-year-old, who has been in the academy since the age of six, was recently promoted to the club’s captain. His exploits along the flanks will suit Pochettino’s counter-attacking football. The only issue with James is his injury concerns. He missed 25 matches last season and will hope to stay fit throughout this season.
On the other flank would be James’ deputy Ben Chilwell. The fellow Englishman has similar traits as James and will be a key member on both defence and offence. Ian Maatsen is also another option.
Although Chelsea has got plenty of options for the centre-back position, two players stand out from the rest - Levi Colwill and Thiago Silva. Silva has proved his worth at the club. The 38-year-old has not shown any wear and tear during his stay at Stamford Bridge so far and will be all the more important, given his leadership skills. Colwill on the other hand, has impressed in his loan stint with Brighton last season, making 17 appearances and collecting five clean sheets. The 20-year-old will look to translate that form for his boyhood club.
Chelsea’s costliest signing Enzo Fernandez will be a no-brainer in the starting lineup. Although being bits and pieces last season, the Argentine was nothing short of brilliant for the blues so far. Up until now, Enzo has been largely restricted to a deep defensive role due to lack of a proper partner but with Chelsea’s interest in Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, the World Cup winner would hope for an even better season with more responsibilities on the offence. Conor Gallagher will most probably be paired up with the 22-year-old.
The left and right wings will be assigned to Mikhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke respectively. While the Ukranian had a pretty ordinary string of performances last season, he would hope to turn the tables this time around. He was impressive in Chelsea’s pre-season and scored a wonderful goal against Brighton. That might just be the teaser of what the 22-year-old is capable of.
Meanwhile, Madueke had to miss the whole pre-season due to a hamstring injury but is expected to be back in time for the league opener against Liverpool. The 21-year-old might be chosen ahead of Raheem Sterling in the upcoming season for his superiority in creativity. Madueke received a national call-up recently. On top of being in the starting 11, he went on to clinch the Player of the Match award in England’s final group game against Germany in the U21 European Championship.
The attacking midfielder role is wide open as of now with Cristopher Nkunku’s injury in the pre-season game against Borussia Dortmund. Pochettino might try Sterling as the No.10 for the time being. Carney Chukwumeka might also be given some much-needed minutes till the return of Nkunku, who was terrific in Chelsea’s pre-season tour.
With Nkunku being sidelined for at least four months, Nicholas Jackson will be expected to do most of the heavy lifting upfront. The new recruitment from La Liga side Villarreal might be the missing piece of the puzzle that Chelsea lacked last season. His pace and the ability to be present in goal-scoring positions will help Chelsea end its goalscoring woes. The 21-year-old had a fantastic pre-season with Chelsea, scoring two goals in four appearances.
Predicted Starting line up (4-2-3-1)
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