Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday December 20 2012
It's that time of the season again where Merlin invades our frontpage :-)
No, not the beardy weirdy one, our mate over at Vital Chelsea.
1) What are you expecting from the season?
A top four finish at least, we need Champions League football (even more so after crashing out in the group stages this season) to sustain our ambitions. A trophy would be nice but after miserable failures in the Community Shield (on your patch) and in the European Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, we`re fast running out of viable options.
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
I guess the highlight was being announced as the current reigning Champions of Europe, after so much heartache that sure felt good. As for a lowlight, I`d go for the thrashing we got down at Brighton, we were never at the races.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
We bought in Eden Hazard and Oscar, both of whom will be major players in our future. We also signed Cesar Azpilicueta (Dave) and he looks a sound investment and, off course, Victor Moses from Wigan. But, if we had one fault it was not signing a striker to replace the legend that was Didier Drogba. We might also have been a little rash in letting Raul Meireles go and sending out so many players on loan, most notably Michael Essien, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
Yes! Didier Drogba! The Ivorian`s presence has been seriously missed as we`re now reliant on the misfiring Fernando Torres. The policy of not giving anyone over the age of thirty a contract longer than twelve months may look good on paper but in practice we`re feeling the effects!
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
Eden Hazard - After starting the season really well, the Belgian faded slightly, but there have been glimpses that he`s getting that form back and if he`s allowed to run at your defence he`s difficult to stop.
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
Weakness! A weakness! The centre forward I`d say, sometimes he can look world class other times he struggles to hit a barn door, but he`s the only one we`ve got!
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
As far as I can make out, the only absentee who would normally be in the starting eleven is John Terry. There`s no doubt we`ve missed the presence of our captain, leader and legend. His leadership qualities have been sorely missed.
8) Dare I ask? Benitez?
It`s like a nightmare!
Here I sit having just read that Roberto Di Matteo picked up a coach of the year award and we sent him packing, patience is a virtue our club has yet to discover!
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
9) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
Not sure about this one. I haven`t seen much of Villa in the last couple of seasons. Although having flirted with a top six place not to long ago, it seems to me that you missed an opportunity to build on those foundations, although some may say you were prudent, unlike some, by not spending yourselves into financial trouble. As for this season, if you can produce performances like you did at Anfield, you`ll finish at least in mid-table!
10) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
I admired his achievements at Norwich, back-to-back promotions and a decent season of consolidation in the Premier League, was always going to see him stand out as possible big-club material. As I`ve touched on before, patience might need to be the key word here!
11) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
Our paths have always seemed to cross in the FA Youth Cup and I`ve fond memories of those clashes. Suffice to say your young lads have progressed to the first team whilst ours have been farmed out on loan. Youngsters like Bannan and Albrighton spring to mind and the former seems to be progressing well. But, I should point out that we have one of your ex-youngsters, I believe, in our squad - Gary Cahill.
12) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
Christian Benteke - Where did you discover him from? He reminds me of a young Didier Drogba, a little raw but all the ingredients to be a colossus are there.
13) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
Seeing as we`re not blessed with strikers and you appear to have uncovered a gem, can we have Benteke as an advent present?
(MF - second word is off!!!)
14) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Step forward that man again - Benteke!
15) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
I reckon if we can get an early goal and if (a big if), we can play with the swagger we showed at the start of the season, your youngsters might be your undoing, but then again…………
16) Finally, a prediction please kind person...
Predicting scores in fixtures involving Chelsea is a bit troublesome these days, gone are the days when we lit up the league with sparkling performances that saw Spurs and Arsenal trialing in our wake and I`m quite confident we won`t hand out another 7 goal thrashing like in our last title winning season, I`ll go for 2-1 to Chelsea.
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Date:Thursday December 20 2012
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