A Round Table Discussion With the Chelsea Index Staff

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Updated: August 13, 2014

The season is only a few days away, and we’re all incredibly excited for what lies ahead. You’ve (hopefully) already been keeping up with our Opposition Preview Series, and we’re going to have a couple of big features for you all in the last few days before Chelsea kickoff against Burnley on Monday. Today, we decided to get the entire Chelsea Index Staff together to give their say on all the hot topics from the summer. Without any further ado, we proudly present… A Round Table Discussion With the Chelsea Index Staff:

1. Were you happy with last season?

Oscar: Yes, very much. It was great to see Mourinho come back, and the team start to take a coherent shape, particularly in the January window. We seem to have a clear plan and identity, as opposed to just buying shiny players.

Ram: Pretty much. Exceeded my pre-season expectations, but felt that we could have put in that extra effort towards the end to get us past the finish line. But we needed a striker for that (Looking at you, Torres).

Rob: Yes. We didn’t win anything but it was the best we have performed since Carlo Ancelotti’s departure. Plus we were still well in the title race come April and May, and we looked deserving of our deep CL run.

Sreya: At the start of the season, if someone told me Chelsea will finish 4 points off the top and reach the semis of CL, I’d grab it with both hands. But the manner we gave away our title chances was a little frustrating to watch.

Lauren: I was actually very happy with last season, as a whole. Not so much that we didn’t win any trophies, but I thought the squad showed glimpses of what it can, and hopefully will, be in the coming seasons. There were enough positive signs of what our team could be like in the future to satisfy me.

Marc: Aside from not pursuing a striker in January, yes. Dropping points to smaller clubs was frustrating, but making a proper run at the title while getting as far as the semifinals in the Champions League was tremendously satisfying.

Amadi: Yes, actually. It was a rebuilding year. Yes, Mourinho returned, but we needed to be patient. To be able to have reached the Champions League semi-final and to challenge so long for the EPL title was a welcome surprise.

2. How do you feel about losing fan favorites like Mata, Luiz, Lampard, and Ashley Cole in the last year?

Oscar: Obviously, on an emotional level, it was hard, but I think the squad is in a much better place now than it was 12 months ago, and we sold Mata and Luiz well above their market value. We’re showing balance and have elite players at every position, along with excellent depth.

Ram: Losing them certainly hurts but I’m on board with any decision taken by the club. Except if they sell Hazard or Schürrle. They’re mine!!!

Rob: Well when you put it like that it’s gutting and I’m going to have to get all sentimental now. This space isn’t long enough for me to express my gratitude to those four European Champions. But ultimately, we will be stronger without them next year.

Sreya: Mata’s sale benefitted us on all fronts, although I wished he had not gone to another English team. Lampard and Cole’s departures had to happen – sentiments don’t win you games. Their leadership qualities and grit will be sorely missed but Chelsea have replaced them well. Losing Luiz hurt – it’s David (loved by all) Luiz we are talking about!!

Lauren: Sad, because they were four of my favourite players, and I loved what they each brought to the club on and off the pitch, but in a footballing sense, I understand why they all needed to move on. Mata and Luiz clearly weren’t what Mourinho wanted/needed within his squad (and were both sold for high fees), whereas Lampard and Cole were just too old.

Marc: Mata and Luiz became surplus to requirements, and we were able to sell both for hefty fees so I didn’t mind that. As for Lampard and Cole, their time had come, and allowing them to leave with dignity is the best outcome for all.

Amadi: Mata and Luiz were sold in fantastic deals for exorbitant amounts of money, allowing us to purchase Fabregas, Luis and Costa. Lampard and Cole will always have a special place in the hearts of Chelsea fans, but their time had come.

3. What about Lukaku? What are your thoughts on that whole thing?

Oscar: Good riddance, if you ask me. I actively disliked the way he was entitled and at the same time afraid of competition. I much prefer players with the positive attitude of Costa and Schurrle. Lukaku was good, but he wasn’t that good. Not yet at least.

Ram: Coming in at a top club, you’ve gotta be ready to fight for minutes. Yes, it’s a talent lost, but a headache saved.

Rob: Now we have Costa, if Lukaku isn’t prepared to compete for his place then his mentality is not right for this club. I still believe he will be a top striker in the future, but that is not now, Chelsea want to win now.

Sreya: Lukaku has tremendous potential and he would have surely got us 10-15 league goals. But I don’t think Mourinho & the board had a choice. His temperament issues have been a problem in past as well.

Lauren: I would have loved to see Lukaku blossom at

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Chelsea, and I do think he has the makings of a brilliant Premier League centre forward, but if he wasn’t willing to work for his place at Chelsea (and it seemed that he wasn’t), I definitely think it was right to let him go.

Marc: Think about this – Wayne Rooney’s inflation-adjusted transfer fee was £70 M when he transferred from Everton to Manchester United after scoring 17 goals in 77 appearances. I understand letting him go, but for a 21 year-old that has scored 32 goals in 66 games in the past two seasons, they should have held out for at least £35-£40 million.

Amadi: I was a big fan of Lukaku’s when he first joined up with Chelsea, and I continue to respect his abilities. For Chelsea, he never got a chance to be the “main man.” I think it is something he requires to succeed, but Mourinho would never have been able to guarantee him such treatment.

4. Switching it up from outgoing transfers, which incoming player are you most excited to see in a Chelsea shirt?

Oscar: Fabregas. His passing and his ability to dictate the game are to a level Chelsea haven’t seen in a long time. As good as Costa is, I think Fabregas will be the difference maker for us breaking down the teams we’re supposed to (our fatal flaw in recent seasons) and winning the title.

Ram: Kurt Zouma. He has such an upside given his physical advantage over his peers that I’m intrigued to see what the club’s approach towards him will be. The others are mostly proven commodities.

Rob: Fabregas, and not just because it make Arsenal fans feel sick. I think Chelsea have required a midfielder of his passing prowess for some time, probably since Ballack left the club.

Sreya: Undoubtedly Diego Costa. We haven’t had a functioning striker since God-knows-when! If we win any silverware at the end of the season, this guy will play a paramount role in that!

Lauren: Diego Costa, hands down. Although I am incredibly excited to see Fabregas this season, the thought of having a striker like Costa fronting our attack is amazing. The physicality of his play and the intelligence of his movements bode well for a good first season in English football.

Marc: Even though I’ve been skeptical about the transfer, I’m most excited about Fabregas. His quality on the ball and classy passing—typical of a Barcelona product—is something that this team has been sorely lacking. Quite frankly, he slots right in as our most polished attacking player.

Amadi: I am most excited to see Cesc Fabregas in a Chelsea shirt this season. He was an integral part of the Arsenal team before returning to Barcelona, and no Chelsea fan would deny that he was one of few players who always impressed when we played the Gunners.

5. Are you happy to see Drogba back in Blue?

Oscar: Yes, very much. He’ll be a great locker room leader, and along with having Mourinho back, Chelsea will have the old swagger and winning mentality again. And if he wants to come back, you can’t turn him away.

Ram: Ecstatic. In times of transition in the dressing room, the gaffer needs to have his trusted men. It wasn’t there for Jose at Real, but Drogba back definitely makes things more favorable, given the departures of Cole and Lampard.

Rob: If I am honest, I would have rather seen us look elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Drogba but he left in the perfect manner, in a way so befitting to such a great man.

Sreya: Happy?? Yes. Satisfied?? No. The reason being our other back-up is Torres. Essentially we are going with just one top forward in a season where we are bound to challenge for trophies on all fronts.

Lauren: Yes, and no. Yes, because he’s Didier and he’s an absolute legend; but no, because I’m still fairly certain Munich was the perfect way for him to sign off as a Chelsea player.

Marc: As long as fans are realistic about what to expect from Drogba, it should be fine. He showed in the World Cup that he can still make an impact off the bench.

Amadi: Yes. I am thrilled to have Didier back. When we speak of talismanic strikers, Drogba’s name is never far from the top of the list. Many make the argument that, as he left on such great terms, it would make no sense to come back and tarnish the memories, his images, etc. I think that is completely ludicrous.

6. In general, do you think Chelsea have spent their money wisely this summer?

Oscar: Very, very much. We sold off players that were excess to our needs and replaced them with elite players in areas of weakness. We have a fantastic team at every position, and depth to boot. Maybe the best designed 25-man squad in the EPL.

Ram: Yes. And yes. And yes. Finest transfer window planning and execution by any team in the past few seasons. Incredible work that all the deals have been wrapped up in such a short span.

Rob: Yes, extremely wisely. Costa is exactly what we need and at £32m, a very reasonable price in today’s striker market. Likewise, Fabregas and Filipe Luis are absolute steals!

Sreya: Chelsea have spent extremely wisely. The business has been conducted quickly and effectively. The positions of need were filled with top quality players and for a change, we didn’t spend through the roof.

Lauren: I think they’ve spent incredibly wisely. The weak places last season were, most prominently, the centre of midfield and strikers. Matic, Fabregas (and a now fit Van Ginkel) are sure to have that position covered this season, and we’ve captured a great target with Costa. I’d still like to see another striker brought in (I wouldn’t want to have to rely on Torres and Drogba for extended periods of time if Costa were to get injured).

Marc: Costa should be the answer to our striker issues; Fabregas is a quality midfielder; Filipe Luis should provide width for Hazard to operate. Aside from some depth in certain areas the team looks poised to compete on all fronts.

Amadi: Absolutely. This is without a doubt the best summer transfer window for Chelsea in many years. The acquisition of key players in positions where they were needed has been second to none and illustrates how cooperative José and Roman are being which each other in order to reach a common goal – winning silverware.

7. Which player out there would you be most excited to see Chelsea bring in on transfer deadline day?

Oscar: Pogba! My only area of concern is that we maybe haven’t replaced David Luiz in the midfield against top opponents. He and Matic were a sight to behold last season.

Ram: The best possible deadline day deal in my eyes would be getting rid of Torres, but coming back to reality, I’d not like any more additions without selling anyone. Pogba for Ramires and cash would be great, but don’t want anyone else.

Rob: I really wanted Toni Kroos, but since he’s no longer available, I will have to go for Terry’s ideal replacement in centre back – Raphael Varane.

Sreya: If we still had Lukaku, I’d say Pogba. Now that we don’t, I’ll say Cavani or Balotelli. On second thoughts, why not get both Pogba and a goal-scorer on the deadline day – that would be smashing!

Lauren: I really wouldn’t mind seeing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in blue for the coming season.

Marc: PAUL POGBA!

Amadi: I still think that Chelsea could do with another strong centre-back, and Mehdi Benatia could be such a player. Arguably the best CB in Serie A last season, the big AS Roma defender would fill in nicely.

8. Which team scares you the most in the upcoming EPL season?

Oscar: The obvious answer is Man City, although I am also quite worried about Man Utd now that they have a very good manager at helm. They’ll be close to the top for the entire season.

Ram: No one. I probably sound overly confident, but no team scares me an ounce. We’re more than equipped to handle anything thrown at us.

Rob: Arsenal. It was brilliant when they hadn’t won anything for a while, but now they have and they have signed Sanchez, they look a really strong outfit. If Ramsey and Walcott stay fit, they could be right up there come the end of the season.

Sreya: Manchester City – they have the quality and the depth. 11 on 11, we might be better than City, but they have more depth than us, which becomes necessary in a league competition.

Lauren: Probably Manchester City, they have a strong squad and over the past few years have definitely been one of the more consistent teams in the league.

Marc: While I believe the league title will come down to Man City and Chelsea, facing Everton scares me the most. Last season, we managed one (fairly lucky) goal in 180+ minutes against them. A core of Barkley, Besic, Mirallas, Coleman, Baines and Lukaku is not to be taken lightly.

Amadi: As usual, Manchester City are going to be a strong team. Champions last season and again two seasons prior, they have the quality and, most importantly, the depth to challenge for multiple trophies.

9. Are there any EPL teams that you think are overrated and will be a huge flop this year?

Oscar: I worry that Southampton will get relegated with the awful summer they’ve had. And Luis Suarez is essentially irreplaceable, especially when you trade a dollar for four quarters, as we sometimes say in American sports.

Ram: Southampton will flop compared to last season due to the massive outflow of talent. Expect Liverpool to crumble as well. Crystal Palace might not have a miracle this season.

Rob: They probably aren’t overrated, generally, but I think Liverpool will struggle to reach the same heights as last season. They overachieved last year finishing 2nd and I think most realistic Liverpool fans would even take finishing 4th, if offered to them now.

Sreya: Everton. Martinez is a wonderful manager, but their league position had a lot to do with Manchester United’s dismal performances.

Lauren: Liverpool. The combination of losing Suarez and the added pressure of European competition will be too much for them.

Marc: I’ve been rather unimpressed with Liverpool’s summer. I think they paid too much for Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren. Lazar Markovic and Emre Can are intriguing prospects, but not enough to keep them in the top 4.

Amadi: I think United is extremely overrated and will flop this year. Yes, Louis Van Gaal is a great manager, and his experience and tactical intelligence will no doubt be beneficial for the club. However, he will not be playing. His tactics can be fantastic but without a team of quality players to implement them, they will fail.

10. Finally, the big one: will Chelsea win any trophies this season? If so, which ones?

Oscar: Treble, here we come! I’m only half joking.

Ram: I fully expect the FA Cup to return to its rightful home. That’s why we brought back the Mr. Wembley as well. The EPL will be ours if Costa doesn’t Torres. And I can see us making a deep run in the CL as well.

Rob: It really is a big season for Mourinho. He knows he needs to win either the Premier League or Champions League to keep Roman sweet. And they will do it, in the Premier League and League Cup.

Sreya: Our best chances are that of winning the Premier League. Firstly, because we actually have a squad capable of challenging for it (not little horses any more). Secondly, Mourinho knows how to pace it when battling it out for the title.

Lauren: I’d love the Premier League title again this year. It’s spent four seasons away from the Bridge. I think it’s time we brought it back to West London.

Marc: Chelsea are as good as any team in Europe. After making it to the semifinals of Champions League last season, they have upgraded in at least five positions—Courtois, Filipe Luis, Matic, Fabregas, Costa (Azpilicueta at right back represents a sixth.) Combined with Mourinho’s tactical nous, don’t be surprised if this team wins the “big ears” again.

Amadi: With the squad we have put together in the off-season, and with the knowledge of how close we came to Premier League and Champions League successes last season (with a “little-horse” of a team), I can say with confidence that we will be heavily favored to excel in all competitions.

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