Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday August 30 2007
1) So how did your pre-season spending go, do you think Chelsea will be able to survive the season with the players you have (he asks bitterly!)
I’m not sure if I’m lining myself up for a fall here! If the Ronaldinho transfer does materialize, although I think it won’t, the following may be just a little tarnished with regard to content.
In all fairness, I’m pretty happy with our signings. Compared to previous years our expenditure has been relatively low, we’ve chosen to strengthen the areas that proved to be our downfall last season, namely in defence, with the free transfer of Ben Haim and the $1 acquisition of Alex. Jose has also been very astute by getting in players who’ll offer adequate cover when we lose several big names to the African Nations Cup. Pizarro will be available up front as an alternative to Drogba whilst the competitive Sidwell will help to fill the void left by Essien and Mikel.
The one big signing, Florent Malouda, looks to be a good acquisition and has settled in quite quickly. Unfortunately, we’ve lost Robben who, on his day, can be a real match winner but I guess you can’t have it all ways.
We’ve also recently recruited Belletti from Barcelona after sticking to our (new) principal of refusing to be ripped off just because we’re loaded and refusing to cave into the ridiculous demands of Sevilla for Daniel Alves.
As for being able to survive with the players we’ve got, let’s just hope we don’t get decimated by the amount of injuries we succumbed to in December / January last year.
2) You seem to have started the best of the top 3 teams but no one is really impressing as yet are they?
No! In all honesty we’ve looked good in patches against Reading (a) and Birmingham (h) but the fixtures against Liverpool (a) and Portsmouth (h) saw us having to grind a result out. However, we do have the points on the board and the gap between us and Manchester United could, although its early days, prove to be significant.
Perhaps, the table looks a little strange though because Arsenal and Liverpool are involved in Champions League qualifiers and have played a game less. A win for both would leave all three of us top with ten points.
Hopefully, it’ll all click into place this Sunday and some of the football we’ve played at times in the first two games of the season can be matched with our usual mean defence.
3) Are you confident of getting the Premiership title back or do you think Liverpool might prove a sterner challenge this season? Man Utd also can't be written off at this stage but obviously they have made a poor start and that can only help you lot can't it?
I have to admit I laughed a little at United’s poor start, especially after spending big time in the close season. Liverpool, unusually for them, have started well and look to be a threat. In previous season’s their challenge has all but fizzled out by January allowing them to concentrate on the Champions League, therefore it’ll be interesting to see how they cope if they are still challenging on two or three fronts.
As for wrestling the title back, it’ll be a long haul and having raised the bar in recent years we’ll have to ensure any points dropped are as rare as the proverbial rocking horse ……….
Deep down I think people are underestimating the threat Arsenal may present. People point to Henry leaving but forget he didn’t feature much last season and they also have Robin van Persie back this year, another who spent a long time out injured.
Perhaps we could be about to witness a season to remember – goal difference anyone?
4) Are you surprised at the lack of activity transfer wise at Villa and what do you think of our chances of making Europe this season with the squad we have?
Surprised! I’m astounded. After being taken over lock, stock and barrel by Randy Lerner, I expected a major splash of the cash this close season, instead you’ve purchased the sort of players that Martin O’Neill had under him at Leicester. I’d have to question whether Martin has what it takes to operate a squad full of star names, although that’s only my opinion and isn’t meant to be taken in a derogatory manner as I’ve a lot of time for O’Neill.
As for Europe, anything can happen. You need to string a run of results together, get on a run and bulldoze through the pack. If you can do that a UEFA Cup place may be possible!
5) If you could have one of our players, who would it be?
I’d take a player who got a bit of a rough ride this summer for missing the U21 championships, Agbonlahor. If he’s lucky with injuries and maintains his current development the world could be his oyster. He has pace, skill and an eye for goal, is there anything else you need (apart from luck)?
6) If you could off-load one of your players to us, who would you send us - be kind!
Thankfully, he’s already gone but even though I’ve a soft spot for Villa it would have to have been Khalid Boulahrouz. He may have marked Ronaldinho out of a game at Stamford Bridge but apart from that he was woeful, at times he resembled a robot!
7) Joe Cole, if he has fallen out with Mourinho, can we have him please?
Definitely not! If he has had a spat I’ve no doubt it’s something that happens on the training ground on a regular basis and that, I believe, is where it should stay!
8) What is your prediction for the game on Sunday?
We’re due a win at Villa Park after a run of draws. Hopefully, a 3-0 like the occasion when Tor Andre Flo netted twice in front of the Witton End and Bjarne Goldbaek scored the other! However, I’ll opt for a closer game and a narrow 1-0 win, hell I’ll even chuck in the goal scorer – Lampard (for a change!)
I would wish you luck for the season, but you'd know I was lying! ;-)
With thanks to Merlin from Vital Chelsea
Date:Thursday August 30 2007
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