Chelsea FC: How the Blues Will Line Up in the 2011-12 Premier League
Chelsea's title challenge imploded last season due largely to a lack of creativity in midfield and a lack of spark and energy up front.
The new-look coaching staff needs to bring with it a new-look team if they want to challenge on all fronts next campaign.
Villas-Boas and his newly appointed assistant, Roberto Di Matteo, need to build a squad with greater depth as well as picking from the cream of Europe's crop in search of new talent.
Every eligible player in Europe has seemingly been linked to Stamford Bridge, yet the Blues have been surprisingly inactive in the transfer market as of yet.
However, further investment from Abramovich is needed if Chelsea are to continue the work started in January that went some way to revolutionizing the club.
Whatever happens, it is likely that Chelsea fans will be rushing to their seats at the start of next season to witness a somewhat unfamiliar line-up.
The following article is a projection of a likely Chelsea XI in 2011/12.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
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Petr Cech has been a mainstay of the Abramovich era, and there are few keepers more reliable than "Big Pete."
His calm yet imposing presence in the penalty box inspires confidence in his defenders and psyches out opposition strikers.
Cech hardly put a foot wrong last season, and there are indications that he will be Chelsea's No. 1 for years to come.
Reserve: Ross Turnbull
Right Back: Gregory Van Der Wiel
The young Ajax right back has been consistently linked with Chelsea this summer, and he appears ready to make the big move.
His supreme pace makes him into an attacking threat down the right wing, and if Chelsea are going to continue to play without natural wide men, offensive wing-backs will be essential.
Van Der Wiel was voted the Dutch "Young Player of the Year" in 2010, and his signature would be another step in the right direction for the Chelsea youth movement.
Reserve: Branislav Ivanovic
Left Back: Ashley Cole
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Ashley Cole has shown time and again that he is among the best left backs in the world.
A rumored move to Spain has come to nothing and at this point in time, it is likely that Cole will line up at Stamford Bridge next season.
He was not at his best last campaign and even made some uncharacteristic errors, but no doubt he will determined to prove his worth to Villas-Boas.
Cole is one of the few attacking full backs in the world that can claim to be as solid defensively as they are dangerous when going forward.
The likes of Dani Alves, Marcelo and Maicon often show defensive frailties while Cole is the model of reliability.
Reserve: Patrick Van Aanholt
Center Back: David Luiz
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Since making a career-defining £25 million move to Premier League champions Chelsea, David Luiz Mareira Marinho has already played a key role.
He has swiftly become a cult hero at Stamford Bridge and will be a key factor if Chelsea are to overhaul Manchester United and regain their Premier League crown.
Despite the inconsistencies he showed towards the end of last season, Luiz has shown that he can bring the ball out of defense and his distribution is superb.
But he is not all style and no substance. The Brazilian combines a fluid passing range with a tough tackling approach and should develop into a world-class center back.
Reserve: Jeffrey Bruma
Center Back and Captain: John Terry
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John Terry has earned the position of club legend for various reasons. The sheer longevity of his Chelsea career and his "one club man" status are a rarity in the modern game.
His sheer commitment to the cause is applaudable, and "JT" has never hesitated to put his body on the line for the team.
He is the perfect partner for the more skillful and subtle Luiz, and he will always be our "Captain, Leader, Legend!"
Holding Midfielder: Michael Essien
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Michael Essien was disappointing for large parts of last season, and he does not appear to have fully recovered from a series of serious injuries.
The long summer break should allow Essien to regain full fitness for 2011/12, which Chelsea fans hope will see Essien return to his explosive and energetic best.
I have always felt that Essien has more to contribute in the holding role, as his incredible desire to cover ground makes it very difficult to combat his presence in front of the defense.
Reserve: John Obi Mikel
Central Midfielder: Luka Modric
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Modric was rumored to be an Abramovich transfer target in the January transfer window, and he might have made all the difference in Chelsea's ultimately unsuccessful season.
His small stature and his low center of gravity make it very difficult to dispossess the Croatian, and his passing range is superb.
Chelsea are still in the market for him, and the fact that Tottenham will not be playing Champions League football next season may influence his decision.
Tottenham has already shown that they will be very reluctant to part with him, as most Spurs fans will tell you that he was their player of the season in 2010/11.
Harry Redknapp has already dismissed a £22 million bid as ridiculous and has hinted that it will take at least £40 million for the club to part with their main creative spark.
Chelsea need creativity in the midfield, and Modric has always had the ability to unlock defenses.
Reserve: Frank Lampard
Central Midfielder: Samir Nasri
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Samir Nasri's apparent decision to leave Arsenal has left a whole host of clubs scrambling for his signature including Manchester United and Barcelona.
But Chelsea could snatch Nasri from right under Ferguson's nose with a rumored £20 million offer plus Anelka for the Frenchman's services.
He would be the ideal long-term replacement for Frank Lampard and a central midfield partnership with Luka Modric could be lethal.
Nasri will need to improve his consistency and his work rate, but he has the potential to develop into one of the world's best players.
Chelsea could be the perfect venue for Nasri to grow into the player that Fabregas should have been by now.
Attacking Central Midfielder: Javier Pastore
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Possibly the most in-demand player in world football, it will reportedly cost £45 million to prize Javier Pastore away from Palermo.
Chelsea are among the clubs said to be vying for his signature, and if financial clout becomes a factor, then Abramovich's billions should come into play.
If he does come to Chelsea, I feel that he would be best utilized in the hole behind the strikers where he could link up with Torres and provide a valuable goal return.
Reserve: Florent Malouda
Striker: Sergio Aguero
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Torres has so far been unable to forge an effective partnership with either Nicholas Anelka or Didier Drogba.
So why not bring in a player who has played with Torres before at Athletico Madrid and has a fantastic future ahead of him?
Aguero has been compared to Lionel Messi, and for the past four seasons, he has never failed to break the 20-goal barrier in all competitions.
His mercurial dribbling ability, uncanny striker's instinct and his diminutive link-up play make him Athetico's most valuable asset.
He has been deserving of a big money move for some time now, and this could be the year for Aguero to finally make his mark in the Premier League.
There are few players more deserving of filling Didier Drogba's shoes than the Argentinean wonderkid and a reunion between El Niño and El Kun could be electric.
Reserve: Daniel Sturridge
Striker: Fernando Torres
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Villas-Boas has already vowed to make Torres into "twice the player he was last season".
This has already prompted jokes from rival fans that they cannot wait to see both his goals.
But this season will be vital for Fernando if he is to pay back the faith shown in him by the Chelsea fans and management.
He has shown glimpses of what he is capable of, and a long rest period, followed by the incentive of playing under a new manager, should bring out the best in Torres.
Reserve: Romelu Lukaku
I still think it is inevitable that Didier Drogba will depart in the close season with Italy a likely destination.
The Chelsea legend has yet to forge an effective partnership with Torres, and his age dictates that the Ivorian will have to be the player to make way.
There has clearly been a clash of egos, and the money invested in El Niño means that he will always be given preferential treatment.
Anelka also looks set to depart as part of the exchange deal for Nasri, which means that Villas Boas is steadily weeding out the veterans.
We could see a new-look Chelsea bench next season that features home-grown talent such as Josh McEachren and Fabio Borini.
Florent Malouda, Daniel Sturridge and Salomon Kalou should stay as well to fight for their place in the starting line up.
Chelsea could also make a long-term investment in Romelu Lukaku, but I think it is unlikely that the 18-year-old Belgian striker will walk into the first team without first proving himself to Villas Boas and the Chelsea coaching staff.
This could also be the season that Frank Lampard stops playing a regular first team role and settles back to a more relaxed schedule.