There is an air of uncertainty surrounding Chelsea as they prepare to get their 2022/23 campaign underway.
The sanctions imposed on previous owner Roman Abramovich have set them well back in their planning, key first-team defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have walked away for nothing, main striker Romelu Lukaku was allowed to return to Inter on loan and, on the pitch, pre-season has been underwhelming.
Although they have signed established stars in Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, the Blues have also been frustrated in the transfer window (mainly by Barcelona) as they struggle to land their priority targets. Head coach Thomas Tuchel has been left visibly exasperated by the situation and he has already criticised the strength of the squad at his disposal, which does not bode well.
Unless something drastic changes in the next month, Chelsea could face a real battle to keep pace with their rivals, who have generally strengthened considerably.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the Blues’ 2022/23 Premier League campaign…
There has been something of an unwanted defensive overhaul this summer with Rudiger and Christensen departing. Koulibaly has arrived as a partial replacement and there is likely more business to be done in that department.
Although Romelu Lukaku has returned to Italy, Sterling will arguably be seen as an upgrade in attack, although Chelsea are going to be relying heavily on goals from the wide areas with no top strikers currently on the market.
Numbers subject to change before end of transfer window
1) Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK)
3) Marcos Alonso
5) Jorginho (VC)
6) Thiago Silva
7) N’Golo Kante
8) Mateo Kovacic
10) Christian Pulisic
11) Timo Werner
12) Ruben Loftus-Cheek
13) Marcus Bettinelli (GK)
14) Trevoh Chalobah
15) Conor Gallagher
16) Edouard Mendy (GK)
17) Raheem Sterling
18) Ross Barkley
19) Mason Mount
20) Callum Hudson-Odoi
21) Ben Chilwell
22) Hakim Ziyech
24) Reece James
26) Kalidou Koulibaly
28) Cesar Azpilicueta (C)
29) Kai Havertz
31) Malang Sarr
33) Emerson Palmieri
38) Dylan Williams
43) Xavier Mbuyamba
44) Ethan Ampadu
60) Teddy Sharman-Lowe
64) Jude Soonsup-Bell
68) Harvey Vale
71) Charlie Webster
75) Lewis Hall
Players without squad numbers: Armando Broja, Levi Colwill, Billy Gilmour, Michy Batshuayi
It would be easy to instinctively point to Sterling following his marquee move from Manchester City, but Mason Mount has emerged as Chelsea’s most consistent and productive attacking outlet.
Versatile and effervescent, Mount was outstanding last season with 29 goal contributions in all competitions. If the frontlines’ struggles in front of goal continue then he will be absolutely crucial to Chelsea having a successful campaign. An honourable mention to Reece James, too.
One to watch
Again, all eyes will likely be on Sterling and how he fares in a darker shade of blue, but Conor Gallagher‘s return to the club after a breakthrough loan at Crystal Palace should be really intriguing.
There is scope for him to push for a starting place immediately and Chelsea arguably lack a similarly tenacious, productive box-to-box midfielder. Although they lack in their attacking ability, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic are all good at what they do – but Gallagher is capable of doing a little bit of everything.
Chelsea are yet to reveal their away or third kits.
Chelsea are really going to be up against it in 2022/23, especially given that their closest top four rivals Arsenal and Tottenham have strengthened significantly (on paper at least).
Very few people associated with Chelsea will harbour title ambitions for the new season after the torrid few months and pre-season they have endured. However, it would be foolish to base any predictions on friendly matches and the chances of opponents’ new signings succeeding.
Usually, Chelsea find a way – and with Tuchel at the helm and one or two more additions, a top four finish will not be beyond their reach.
Chelsea 2022/23 Premier League prediction: 4th