Premier League 2022/23 Preview: Chelsea

AFP

Predicted finish: 5th 

To say it has been a turbulent spell for Chelsea would be an understatement of sizeable proportions. The Roman Abramovich reign is over. The club has lost center-backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers to La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, and Romelu Lukaku, who arrived last summer for a club-record £97.5m fee, has been loaned out to the same club who sold him to the Blues, Inter Milan.

Despite this period of uncertainty and upheaval, Chelsea are now in seemingly safe hands under new owner Todd Boehly and their Champions League winning coach Thomas Tuchel.

After a strong start to the 2021/22 season, Chelsea eventually finished in third. Tuchel’s men were top after 10 matches until hitting a blip in December, starting with a 3-2 defeat against West Ham.

This dip in form coincided with the release of a revelatory interview from Romelu Lukaku stating he was “not happy” with how he was being utilized by Thomas Tuchel.

As the relationship between Lukaku and the Chelsea fanbase deteriorated, Kai Havertz was often deployed as a false nine in a system more befitting of Tuchel’s tactical ideology. The Blues are yet to sign an out and out striker during the summer window and it will be interesting to see how Tuchel integrates Raheem Sterling into the starting XI equation.

The arrival of Kalidou Koulibaly will provide some relief to the Chelsea faithful following the departure of the ever-consistent Rudiger. Tuchel is still short in this position however and will be forced to retain the services of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso, despite continued interest from big spenders Barcelona.

Chelsea have continually been linked with a move for RB Leipzig’s 20-year-old Croatian center-back Josko Gvardiol but may be somewhat dissuaded by the rumoured £80m price tag. Attention has instead been diverted towards Leicester’s Wesley Fofana, however the Foxes are yet to sign a single player in the summer window and will demand a high fee to break up their backline.

With the new season looming large, Blues fans will feel they need a few more additions to once again challenge on all fronts. Chelsea supporters will take some comfort though in the fact that Tuchel is a first class tactician, epitomized in the German’s 2020/21 season with the club.

One to watch: Raheem Sterling

 No player has won more Premier League games than Raheem Sterling since the 2015/16 season (154 wins). The QPR academy product has consistently displayed his qualities for both Liverpool and more recently Man City, where he won four Premier League titles, five League Cups and an FA Cup in a trophy-laden spell. 

While Sterling personally prefers being deployed as a winger, his versatility means he can operate as an attacking midfielder, or as he has often been deployed by Southgate, an out-and-out striker.

For club (154 goals in 461 appearances) and country (19 goals in 77 appearances), Raheem Sterling has now scored an impressive 173 goals in 538 senior games. At the age of just 27, the tricky 5ft 7’ forward still has plenty left in the tank.


First five fixtures: Everton, Tottenham, Leeds, Leicester, Southampton

Transfers In

Raheem Sterling (£50m, Manchester City)
Kalidou Koulibaly (£34.2m, Napoli)

Transfers Out

Antonio Rudiger (free, Real Madrid)
Charly Musonda (released)
Danny Drinkwater (released)
Jake Clarke-Salter (free, Queens Park Rangers)
Lucas Bergstrom (loan, Peterborough United)
Andreas Christensen (free, Barcelona)
Sam McClelland (loan, Barrow)
Romelu Lukaku (loan, Inter Milan)
Nathan Baxter (loan, Hull City)
Jamie Cumming (loan, MK Dons)
Ian Maatsen (loan, Burnley)
Tino Anjorin (loan, Huddersfield Town)
Henry Lawrence (loan, MK Dons)

Chelsea total spent to date: £84.2m
Chelsea total received to date: £0m

Chelsea net transfer balance: -£84.2m

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