The 2020 summer began with Chelsea being very active in the transfer market as they looked to strengthen their squad after struggling to finish in Champions League places in the English Premier League last season.
This saw to the arrivals of winger Hakim Ziyech from Ajax; striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig; midfielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen; left back Ben Chilwell from Leicester City; center backs Thiago Silver and Malang Sarr; as well as goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Despite their impressive transfer business, Chelsea have struggled in the opening fixtures of the season. On match day one, they were lucky to emerge 1:3 winners against Brighton which controlled the game for much of the 90 mins. In fact, the Blues only relied on mistakes from the Brighton defence to score their first and third goals on the night. It was a match that flattered Chelsea.
While some people have hailed the manner in which the Blues dug deep and ground out result against a very good Brighton team, against Liverpool, however, the West Londoners brought back memories of last season. Poor defending, poor finishing and goalkeeping errors were Chelsea’s undoing again.
Andreas Christensen was culpable of a horrible defensive play when he wrestled Sadio Mane to the ground as the Liverpool striker raced to goal. The incident led to the Chelsea defender being sent off, marking the beginning of their downfall against the Champions who ran out 0:2 winners.
Mane opened the scoring against Chelsea with a fine header
Mane, who was the architect of Chelsea’s misfortune opened the scoring with a fine header from Firminho’s teasing cross. The striker later profited from Kepa Arizabalaga’s blunder to score his second goal.
But despite the early setbacks, there are several reasons to believe that the Blues can still be title contenders in the closing stages of the current EPL season. Let’s look at them.
1. Improving Defence
Despite the result in the match versus Liverpool in which one of Chelsea’s defenders made a huge mistake that led to him being shown a straight red card which ultimately altered the course of the game, the Blues has had better defensive organization in the Premier league this season before that unforgettable moment against the Reds. Against Barnsley in the EFL cup, the last season’s FA cup finalists put up a good defensive showing, keeping a clean sheet as they thrashed the Championship side 6:0 at Stanford Bridge.
And with experienced center back Thiago Silver and left back Ben Chilwell all coming back to fitness and getting minutes in that game, Chelsea’s defence can only get better. If this becomes the case as it looks certain to be, then Chelsea will be closing a major gap after conceding over 50 goals in the league alone last season.
2. The arrival of new goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy
The £22 million signing from Rennes is seen as an upgrade on current Chelsea number one, Kepa Arizabalaga, rather than a back up to the underperforming Spaniard. Mendy has about 76% save ratio compared to Kepa who has a record below 60. Mendy is taller and has a commanding presence in the 18 yard box. One of his attributes is his cross collection ability. He comes out of his line to collect crosses, something Kepa rarely does. If Mendy does that for Chelsea, it would go a long way to reduce the pressure on the defenders, just like in the days of Thibaut Courtios and Petr Cech.
3. Injury Boost
Ziyech posted a picture of himself and Pulisic, indicating that they are close to return from injury
Ziyech and Pulisic in Chelsea’s changing room
Chelsea had started the season with high profile players on the sidelines. Among them are American captain Christian Pulisic and new boy Hakim Ziyech. The two players who have been out for a couple of weeks now are tipped to make a return to action sooner than later. Due to their huge talents, it is believed that they would form an incredible partnership with Kai Havertz and Timo Werner in a deadly front four.
Therefore, the news of the return to training of Pulisic and Ziyech is one that excites Chelsea fans who cannot wait to see what the duo can do alongside the impressive Werner and improving Havertz. Ultimately, Chelsea could have one of the most prolific forward lines in Europe and this could propel them to challenging for major honours, including the Premier League, as the team gels.