In a season where on field events have caused a peculiar anomaly in the linearity of European berths on offer, it seems only fair that sixth-placed Chelsea are considered amongst the ‘elite’ having won outright inclusion into the 2012/2013 European Cup competition as holders.
Consequently, they demoted Tottenham to the mediocrity of the second most prestigious European competition, the Europa League; thus metaphorically finishing fourth and Tottenham sixth...if that all makes sense.
Moving forward, where do Chelsea go from here?
For large sections of the prior season a lethargic lackadaisical shadow of its former self, big spenders, Chelsea, have revamped and continue to do so, releasing their less effective aging players and bringing in the pace freshness of a new era.
They already have their new signings, Edin Hazard and Marko Marin, firing during their pre-season tour of the U.S. with a goal each against the Seattle Sounders.
Where their main difficulties now lie is in the defensive midfield position once dominated by Essien in his heyday.
Obi Mikel is inconsistent; too often moving the ball sideways instead of forward and seldom providing support to the back line, particularly during fast counterattacks.
Who Have They Been Linked With?
Hulk – named affectionately after the green Marvel comic book hero – is deemed widely to be a like for like replacement for Didier Drogba. He seems to be lobbying for the move to happen.
Modric is the man of the moment; there is not a footballing giant that does not want him pulling his midfield shenanigans in their favour but Chelsea have always been his most ardent admirers.
Young Fiorentina and Serbia striker, Stevan Jovetic, has an ungainly style and an eye for goal. His club are unwilling to budge on a price tag of £22 million – peanuts to the free-spending billionaire that is Roman Ambramovich.
Brazilian midfielder Oscar's transfer is reported to be a done deal, which would add the excitement to the club's midfield, while Victor Moses is a name constantly linked as the club look for a right-sided attacker.
Who Do They Need?
Chelsea have already highlighted their priority as attack for the coming season which is in direct opposition to the formula which has brought them so much success over the years.
If they do feel it necessary to be a little nostalgic, why not try for Cheik Tiote and roll back to the wonder years of Essien in his prime?
Perhaps keeping Romelu Lukaku, who scored twice in pre-season last night, may not be a bad option instead of loaning him out.
Who do you want Chelsea to sign?
image: © *dirk