As the calendar turns to August, the 2016/17 soccer season is getting underway. Most of the major European clubs are either knee-deep in preseason tours from China to the US, or are playing friendlies. Some have even begun their European cup journeys. The transfer window is still wide open; rumors and speculation are the order of the day. Instead of another story about Paul Pogba’s supposed medical exam, we thought that you’d rather hear from the fans! So, to get you ready for the new season we asked fans of each club to give you the lowdown on their team’s summer. Next up, Chelsea who have had a tumultuous year which led to the firing of Jose Mourinho. Here to catch you up on their summer is Mario Vontey of Soccity.net
1.Which league do you follow the most? What are some of the major news, interesting stories that caught your eye in the summer? Did you go to any games in person? Do you have something to rant about as far as the league is concerned?
Undoubtedly, I follow the Premier League the most since it is, without any question, the best league in the world. I genuinely think people who say otherwise should be slaughtered. Editor’s note: there is only a 27% chance that he is kidding.
2. How would you describe your team’s summer (transfers, major news, etc) and preparations for the new season?
Chelsea’s summer transfer business could be best described as ‘mild’ for now. The acquisition of N’Golo Kante from Leicester City is definitely the highlight of the window so far, as the French midfielder reportedly covers 70% of the world with his running. This will definitely help Cesc Fabregas, who struggles to even cover 0.1% of the actual football field. Fabregas’s role as a deep-lying midfielder is something that will be reinvented under Conte’s reign, as the Italian manager has been tinkering with a 4-2-4 formation so far, with a 2-man midfield. The other major arrival in the summer so far, Michy Batshuayi, is at best a very capable alternative, or even a partner, to Diego Costa. The Belgian had a breakthrough season last year at Olympique Marseille, and thus arrives hoping to fulfill his sky-high potential. Many have compared his arrival to another acquisition of a certain Ivorian named Didier Drogba (also from Marseille), and if his time at Chelsea is anything to go by, Premier League defenders are in for a hectic ride.
The new manager, Antonio Conte, has given every indication that the Premier League club’s transfer business is far from over, and Blues fans might still be in for a treat or two if recent rumours linking Alvaro Morata to complete a switch are to be perceived as true.
However, this upcoming season will be a mountainous challenge for both players and staff as the club embarks on a journey to restore their status as one of the world’s elites. The embarrassing 10th place finish last term has made sure that they go into every game with a ‘we-can’t-do-any-worse feeling’, and that should help take off some of the weight on the players’ shoulders. Though the Manchester clubs are expected to lead the charge to the title, Blues fans have every right to think that it could very well end up in their hands come May.
3.Season predictions for Top 4, including winner? Who will get relegated?
- Chelsea, then Manchester United, Spurs, Manchester City. Sorry Zlatan.
Relegation Sufferers: Hull, Swansea, Burnley
4. Which teams/players are you looking forward to watching? Who will be a surprise (player/team) or disappointment?
I may sound biased, but I am looking forward to watching how Conte sets his team out throughout the season, what the lineups look like, how the team plays against opponents of greater stature vs. opponents of lesser stature. I think Middlesbrough could surprise a few. They have a young prodigal manager in Aitor Karanka (Mourinho’s student) and have made some decent acquisitions so far (Valdes, Negredo, etc).
5. Who will win these awards: player of the year and top scorer? Other relevant awards you care about?
I’m going to take a big gamble on Eden Hazard to reclaim the Player of the Year award once more. The guy is a class act, though a little off the pace last year, he should be back to his best this upcoming season. And while we’re at it, Hazard for Ballon d’Or!