Ahead of this Sunday’s clash with West Brom, I spoke to AlbionTillWeDie.co.uk, outlining my predictions for the match and season ahead. Here are my thoughts:
Firstly, the Eva Carneiro controversy, your take on it?
Totally unnecessary. Unfortunately it’s been a dreadful week for Chelsea, on and off the pitch. The Blues have never done fantastically on the PR front in terms of racism and sexism etc, and this has not helped. Mourinho’s words seemed innocuous enough – he criticised his “medical staff” – but the ensuing media furore, which predominantly surrounds Carneiro only and not Fearn, has meant the saga has gone into a battle about gender and how Mourinho had ulterior motives. This will not help relations and Mourinho will surely, deep down, be angry with himself for unknowingly causing this mess because it’s detracted Chelsea away from footballing matters. It is ironic that he blamed medical staff for being slow when reacting to Petr Cech’s head injury in 2005, and whilst there is some sense in that physios have to understand the game, first and foremost they have to do what is medically right. (Besides, Chelsea would have only been down to 9 men for around 30 seconds… Mourinho is clutching at straws!)
It’s not been the best of starts to the season for Chelsea, just a blip or something to be worried about?
Probably a bit in between. I can’t imagine it going on for too long, but it shows that this season will not be a canter. City are strong, United strengthened. It’s Chelsea’s worst start since 1998/99 but expect Mourinho to pull through. However, if things get messier behind the scenes with transfer rows or internal strains in relations and all of a sudden there’s a falling out with Abramovich, then there could be real, real danger.
Much has been made of the decision by Jose Mourinho to substitute his captain John Terry at half-time during last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City. Might this be the beginning of the end for the Blues’ legend?
I’m shocked at how much this has been talked about. Mourinho made the tactical decision to take off JT because he was getting pulled apart. I bet Mourinho was toying with the idea of playing Zouma from the off, as he has the pace, but felt Terry’s other attributes, e.g. reading of the game or leadership, will compensate. The reality is it didn’t and Sterling and co beat Terry for pace. Things had to change. But expect Terry to be back in the line-up and dominating; he’s not gone yet.
Looking back at last season, how did it compare to previous championship-winning campaigns?
Whilst Chelsea were good, last season was won mainly because rivals failed. Chelsea weren’t extraordinary – they were good because they were at the top of the table after every single match-day – but it relied heavily on City and United capitulating. We saw pretty football and then tactical football. In other championship-winning campaigns, it’s tended to be the more tactical.
How confident are you that Jose Mourinho’s men can retain their title?
Not very. We have not really strengthened – and in this world that means going backwards. The start we have had is not a good omen at all, and expect City to be fired up. It might be tight, but I’m not so confident as I was last season. There is no match-winner, all pretty stuff but all too careful.
Happy with the club’s summer transfer dealings? Anything more the Blues need to do before the window shuts?
No. Whereas last season we were quick with Costa and Fabregas, this season we have decided to do nothing. The imminent signing of Pedro smacks of panic, which is a disastrous way to manage the market. It was clear Abramovich was trying to save money for a new stadium, but recruits are needed. I’d personally quite like another defensive midfielder: Matic is our only competent one, as Mikel offers nothing and Ramires and Fabregas both have deficiencies to man this position with authority.
Prediction for Albion’s season?
Tony Pulis is a good manager and with the likes of Rondon and McLean in, I can probably expect another season of mid-table mediocrity, well clear of relegation.
Premier League champs?
Bournemouth, Sunderland, Watford
How are Chelsea likely to line-up at The Hawthorns on Sunday?
Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires, Hazard, Willian; Costa. If Pedro comes in time, I’d expect a substitute appearance from him and maybe Rahman.
Prediction for Sunday’s game?
Chelsea need to get going. Expect some fire: 3-1.
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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