The season is closing in on its half-way point, and it’s time to take a look at how Chelsea have been able to match their targets for the 2017/18 campaign so far.
After being crowded as the Premier League champions last term, the Blues were naturally a big favourite for the upcoming campaign. The summer transfer window was a disappointment though, despite big money signing Alvaro Morata already showing great value for money.
Chelsea also landed AS Monaco starlet Tiemoue Bakayoko and AS Roma centre-back Antonio Rudiger, with Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Torino full-back Davide Zappacosta arriving to Stamford Bridge late on the transfer deadline day. Regardless of these additions, Antonio Conte was left with a very narrow squad. Diego Costa was one of the key losses for the Italian, as he left the Blues to make a return to Atletico Madrid.
In our half-season review, we take a look at the Blues’ best and worst performers, most promising players, the ideal transfer targets and realistic aims for the remainder of the campaign. We begin with the first one in line…
The season has looked better and worse for each player in Blue, but there’s one Chelsea star who certainly hasn’t left the fans disappointed. Eden Hazard has been a joy to watch so far, and earns this title 100 per cent. The 26-year-old had a slow start to the campaign due his ankle surgery between the seasons, but has rose up to become the carrying force of the side in both small and big games.
Morata, Cesar Azpilicueta and N’Golo Kante don’t come far from the Belgian, either.
Summer signigns Bakayoko and Zappacosta haven’t enjoyed the greatest start to their Chelsea careers. The Frenchman struggled to find his place in the new formation, but has started to show great potential lately. Meanwhile, Zappacosta seemed like a very exciting prospect after his superb displays in his first games for the Blues, but hasn’t lived up to the hype and is deservedly playing as Victor Moses‘s back-up.
The worst player so far has however been Willian. Despite his slight rise in form between the end of November and beginning of December, the Brazilian’s beginning to the season was awful. The Brazilian was a shining star for the Blues during the 2015/16 season but has still not been able to match those displays under Conte.
Many fans think the Brazilian is frustrating to watch, and despite the small glimmers of hope in his displays against the likes of Huddersfield and Qarabag, it’s fair to say he’s been the most underperforming player for Chelsea this season.
Along with Chelsea’s summer signings, Borussia Monchengladbach loanee Andreas Christensen returned to Stamford Bridge. The Denmark international began the season as David Luiz’s back-up defender, but following the Brazilian’s impaired relationship with Conte, Christensen received his chance to make an impression to the manager.
The 21-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic season for the Blues so far and is now a key player in the heart of the Chelsea defence. Despite his young age and inexperience in the Premier League, Christensen’s consistent performances have made him seem like the beginning of a world-class ball-playing defender.
17-year-old Ethan Ampadu is also a very exciting prospect to look out for in the future, as he has already been named twice as Chelsea’s Man of the Match in League Cup wins over Nottingham Forest and AFC Bournemouth.
IDEAL JANUARY SIGNINGS
There are two positions which Chelsea are desperate to strengthen this January, and those positions are the left wing-back and striker’s roles.
Marcos Alonso’s performances have been hot n’ cold throughout the campaign, and is still the only natural fit for the left wing-back’s position in the Chelsea team. Youngster Kenedy has been rotated in the position in easier games, but he’s not better than the Spaniard.
Juventus star Alex Sandro is reportedly interested in leaving the Italian club and after being widely linked with a move to Chelsea last summer, the Blues are expected to make another effort in capturing the Brazilian this winter.
Conte is also lacking trust in Blues’ second-choice striker Michy Batshuayi, and Chelsea really need another striker as good as Morata in the team. The former Real Madrid forward has already suffered from tiredness due to not getting enough rest with Conte not happy to use Batshuayi as his cover. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mauro Icardi, Jamie Vardy and Andrea Belotti have all been linked to the club in the past six months, but it’s to be seen who Chelsea will eventually go for this winter.
Upgrading on wingers Willian and Pedro would not be a bad idea either, with Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez a big point of interest for the Blues.
AIMS FOR REMAINDER OF SEASON
Chelsea are admittedly out of the title race with Manchester City already 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but have all the rest of the competitions still to be played for. The realistic aim for the remainder of the campaign would be to finish firmly into the top four, and take each cup tournament more serious than ever.
Chelsea have progressed to the League Cup semi-finals, where they’ll be playing against Arsenal. In the Champions League round of 16 the Blues play FC Barcelona. The FA Cup is also set to begin for the West London side as they visit Championship side Norwich City in their first game of the competition.
Winning the Champions League would definitely be an extremely difficult task, but should we win Barca in the first knock-out games, the European Elite competition could be our main priority for the remainder of the campaign. If our chances in the league are truly bound to be buried, it would be a no-brainer not to give our everything for the other trophies in line.
Agree or disagree? Take part in this Twitter Thread and we’ll analyse your opinions tomorrow and publish another review on Boxing Day.
🔗 THREAD: Chelsea's half-season review, reviewed by you, Chelsea fans.
Give your vote to each question and RT when done. ✅ Thread results will be analysed and featured on @CFCNewsApp's website on Boxing Day. 🔵
— eetu ikola (@eetuikola) December 25, 2017
Merry Christmas Day, Blues!