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Jose sure to lead Blues to title

Chelsea FanZoner John Baines is confident the Blues will win the Premier League title this season - and expects big things of Kevin De Bruyne.

Last Updated: 29/07/13 at 17:45 Post Comment

Kevin De Bruyne: Can be key player for Chelsea

Kevin De Bruyne: Can be key player for Chelsea

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How has your pre-season gone?

Things have felt relatively rosy around Stamford Bridge since the end of last season when Chelsea finished third and won the Europa League, and that air of positivity has only been added to by Jose Mourinho's re-arrival.

A whistlestop tour of the Far East was essentially a glorified PR exercise with three friendlies thrown in against "All-Star" sides, and Chelsea looked impressive enough in chalking up a trio of wins at a combined aggregate of 13-2.

The opposition wasn't much to write home about but the purpose was served through improving fitness and getting rid of rust, whilst a lengthy list of absentees gave opportunities for a couple of youngsters to impress.

They're off to the US next week for another mini-tournament, and how they fare in those games will give a better indication of where they stand for the start of the season.

Happy with how things have shaped up in terms of transfers - both in and out?

Given what's gone on in the past, it's been quieter than normal with Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer the only new arrivals for a relatively modest outlay of around £26million.

However, many people forget that returning loanees Michael Essien, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku add further quality and quantity, and I'd be surprised if there weren't a couple of more signings before transfer window closes.

The stand-off with Manchester United for Wayne Rooney will rumble on for weeks, but I suspect he will end up wearing Blue, whilst I would also like to see either Daniele De Rossi or Sami Khedira come in as a replacement for the ultimately replaceable John Obi Mikel.

Is your current manager the right man for the job?

If there is such a thing as the right man for the Chelsea manager's job, then Mourinho is that man.

In the immediate term he has the ability to ring the best out of a very talented squad, and I've no doubt there will be more silverware coming through the doors in the next couple of seasons. It remains to be seen whether the 'Special One' will remain the 'Happy One' for longer than his usual three-year spell, but for the moment Mourinho is definately what's required.

Dare to dream - if everything clicked into place what's the best you could hope for?

In an ideal scenario Mourinho will sweep back into town and repeat the title-winning success of his first debut season - but without the histrionics and with some more aesthetically-pleasing football.

I feel the squad is at its most balanced since Roman Abramovich took charge, with the right blend of wily experience and youthful exuberance, and man for man - starting XI and squad wise - I believe we are just as strong, if not stronger, than both of the Manchester clubs.

Mourinho will also want to right the wrongs of three Champions League failures when last in charge, and if everything clicks I reckon we could also have a good run at that competition.

Back to reality - what are your realistic expectations for the new campaign?

Chelsea's primary target should be recapturing the Premier League title, and with Mourinho in charge I firmly believe we can - and will.

As I've already said, the squad is in place to do so and our hand is also strengthened by the managerial departures at both United and City. It'll be a tough baptism for David Moyes, and Mourinho has an advantage over Manuel Pellegrini in that he's been here and done it.

The depth of talent at Mourinho's disposal also means Chelsea will be a handful in both domestic cup competitions and Europe, but I'd sacrifice all of that for top spot in the league.

Who will visiting scouts be keeping an eye on this season?

I'd expect Oscar and Eden Hazard to build on what they did during their debut seasons, and hopefully Romelu Lukaku will be unleashed and given enough games to prove himself too.

But the player I'm particularly looking forward to seeing is Kevin De Bruyne. I wouldn't have let him leave on loan last year, but that move may prove to be for the best in the long term, with the Belgian proving his class by being voted the Bundesliga Young Player of the Year.

De Bruyne has been Chelsea's stand-out player on pre-season so far, and even though there is competition and congestion in the Blues midfield, the boy offers variety to fill a number of spots and I reckon he'll have a big part to play.

If you had to pick one player who'd be fit for every minute of every game, who would it be?

Without digging up the exact statistics, Chelsea have been poor whenever Juan Mata hasn't played over the past couple of seasons, and he's undoubtedly been our most important player since signing in 2011.

The Spaniard is not only a brilliant individual, but he's vital to the functionality of the team, and his scheming all over the park makes Chelsea tick. Mata is one of those players who makes the game easier for others, and although we still don't know exactly how Mourinho will shape the side up this year, I can't see much sense in reducing Mata's role. If he's fit, he plays.

On the flip side (without being cruel!), who is the player with most to prove?

The obvious answer is Fernando Torres, but after two and a half years and well over 100 games at Chelsea, it's safe to assume we'll never see the form from his Liverpool heyday.

Yet if there is one player that I'd be looking for more from for next season, it'd be Eden Hazard. The Belgian got off to a lightening start, faded, then was inspired again over the final third of his debut campaign, and I'd be looking at him to prove he's genuinely one of the best players in the Premier League.

At times he was unplayable last year, but he needs to demonstrate that over 38 games, score more goals, and score them when it really matters. If he does, Chelsea will take some stopping.

If you could sign any one player from any other side in the same division who would you plump for?

Mourinho appears to have made up his mind that Rooney is the man, but I'm not entirely convinced. The Manchester United striker wasn't at his peak last year, and I'd love to know whether that relative slump is physical or mental.

We've signed Andrei Shevchenko and Torres past their watersheds, and if Rooney's legs are on the way out then this could complete a spectacular and expensive hat-trick of forward flops.

But if Rooney just grew disillusioned at Old Trafford, then a change of scenery and Mourinho mentoring could put the bite back into his game, and be the final piece of the jigsaw for Chelsea.

If you only win one game all season who would you take three points from?

Looking forward to winning one game all season is something supporters of clubs likely to win nothing do, so I'd expect to see my Arsenal and Tottenham colleagues mention Chelsea in this section as beating us is akin to a trophy for them these days.

In reality we'll win plenty more than one match, so which one could be the most important? I see Manchester City as our main title rivals so three points against them could swing things, but if I were to pick one to definitely win, it'd be Manchester United away second game of the season.

I think beating the reigning champions on their patch would be the perfect catalyst for Chelsea, whilst it would be interesting to see how David Moyes and United would react after an uncertain few months with the Scot at the helm.

You can follow John on Twitter at @bainesyDiego10 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.

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