Redknapp: Chelsea favourites

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 2:13

A lot can change before the transfer window closes, but as it stands right now, I make Chelsea favourites to win the Premier League this season.
However, there hasn’t been that buzz around them that there was last year. When they signed Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and got Thibaut Courtois back from Atletico Madrid last summer, you felt ‘there’s something really special happening with Chelsea’ and everyone thought they’d win the league.
But this season, it seems a bit flat. They should be bouncing into the new season. Instead there are doubts about Costa’s fitness, they haven’t won a pre-season game and lost the Community Shield to Arsenal. And if they don’t get off to a good start things can change very quickly.
That mood is partly down to the fact they haven’t signed those big-name, exciting players like they did in 2014.
However, you can see their predicament.
If you’re John Stones – who Chelsea have tried to buy from Everton – do you want to go to Stamford Bridge, where you’re probably not going to play? He won’t get in ahead of John Terry or Gary Cahill.
It’s the same in midfield. If you’re a top midfield player would you go in and go head-to-head with Nemanja Matic? No. You’re not going to win that battle.
Jose Mourinho doesn’t change his team, he plays the same XI almost every week, so they’ve had to bring in players who are almost happy not to play.
That’s why they’ve brought in Radamel Falcao. They hope he can recapture his old form, but also know he’ll be happy not to start when Costa is fit. I find it strange for a footballer to be like that, but clearly Falcao no longer trusts his body and nobody else would match his wages.
I thought Mourinho would have gone in and signed one or two big names to freshen it up, though. There’s no shortage of money there and I’m very surprised he hasn’t brought anyone in. He must be happy with the depth of his squad.
Costa scored five goals against Swansea last year and that shows you the value he brings. Chelsea should have won the title in 2013/14 but didn’t have a striker. Last year Costa provided the goals they were missing.
But he’s had these hamstring problems for nearly two years and it looks like he could miss the opener against Swansea, at least. It must be a worry for Chelsea.
However, Eden Hazard is the main man – and I’m expecting an even better season from him this year.
He’s the best attacker in the country and proved that last season. If you were to ask anybody in the league, who is the one player they’d want to strengthen their team, they’d say him. He’s dynamic, he scores goals, he’s added work rate to his game. At times last year he single-handedly won games for Chelsea.
It was no surprise he collected all of those player of the year awards at the end of last season.
There’s more to come from him, too – trust me. He’s 24 and nowhere near his peak yet. If he can’t improve on his assists and goals from last season, that will be disappointing for him.
If Costa is missing this weekend, Chelsea will need Hazard to hit the ground running against Swansea, which is a tough opener.
Last season Garry Monk’s side went to Manchester United and won on the opening day. They also beat United at home and did the double over Arsenal, too. They’ve got good players – Jonjo Shelvey, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ashley Williams and Lukasz Fabianski are key men for Swansea.
The expectations are getting bigger all the time at Swansea, but I reckon it’s going to be harder for them to repeat what they did last year. Wilfried Bony is gone and there’s a huge emphasis on Bafetimbi Gomis now to be the focal point of the team.
I can see Chelsea winning this one. Swansea keep the ball well and will make it difficult but Chelsea have the ingredients there to get the three points.

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