Chelsea FC: The Year of the Treble?
Last season ended in heart-break. There is no other word for what happened in Moscow to Chelsea.
The team fell, in more ways than one, to the hated Manchester United on PKs in the Champions League Final, ending their season.
After finishing the season without any silverware, management shook things up. They fired Avram Grant right out, not even allowing him to return to his management position, and brought in Luiz Felipe Scolari to take the reins.
They also brought in Deco, are pushing for Robinho according to reports, and have also been linked with Samuel Eto'o. However, Steve Sidwell, Khalid Boulahrouz, Claude Makelele, Slobodan Rajkovic, Ryan Bertrand departed from The Bridge.
Sidwell, Boulahrouz, Rajkovic, and Bertrand are not a real loss, as none of those players amassed a significant number of first team appearances. But losing Makelele is a big blow, as it weakens the defense significantly.
Chelsea had a shot at an unheard of four-title season last year. However, after only taking 11 points from 6 matches to open the campaign, a challenge for the Premier League title was a long uphill battle.
They were upset in the Carling Cup final by rivals Tottenham Hotspur and slayed by giant-killers Barnsley in the FA Cup. And of course, they were beaten in the Champions League Final.
With competitions only a few weeks away, it is time to look ahead to this year's campaign.
EPL: They came so close last year, but they just didn't have enough to overtake Man U. This year, if they can get off to a good start and hold strong throughout the Christmas period, a traditional weak spot for Chelsea, then they have a decent shot at returning to the top.
CARLING CUP: In reality they should have won it last year. They were the better team in the first half but couldn't hold on to the lead. This year, you have to take any Big Four team as serious contenders for the Carling Cup, unless they decide to play the youngsters to get them experience, as did Manchester United and Arsenal last season.
FA CUP: Anything is possible. They could go right on through to Wembley or they could crash out like last year. Giant-killers like Barnsley live in the FA Cup. It can take a lot of luck to win the FA Cup, as Chelsea proved in 2007, and 2008 when luck was against them.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Chelsea really could have, and should have won it in 2008. Bad luck cost them the title. This campaign can either be better, if they win it all, or it can be worse, if they don't even make it to the final. But again, in the Champions League luck plays a huge part of it. If Riise hadn't headed into his own goal at Anfield, Chelsea wouldn't have even gotten to extra time in Leg 2.
Chelsea can only improve from last year's silverware total. If Lampard and Drogba stick around for the season, and, hopefully, seasons beyond (honestly, can they please just give Lampard the fifth?), and they can avoid any unrest under Big Phil it could be a good season in West London.
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