Ask The Opposition 2019/20: Chelsea (Premier League - Home)

Damien

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Back by very popular demand is the return of Ask The Opposition. Our segment where we ask fans of opposing teams forums some questions and post a selection of the responses back on here.

To celebrate the return, and acknowledging how welcoming we are of fans of other clubs, I've asked questions to resident Chelsea fans and here are their responses. Thanks to @Bullhitter, @Dancfc, @Mb194dc, @Orc, @P-Ro, @Pow and @WeePat for responding. Most of the questions were asked and answered prior to the situation with Luiz, but after he moved I asked another question on their thoughts on the move and really appreciate the prompt replies from them.

Q1: Maurizio Sarri guided you to third place in the league and won the Europa League, but the fans never seemed to be taken to him and the split was probably for the best. What do you make of his time in charge and why do you think it didn’t work out?
Bullhitter: I would disagree that it didn't work out. I think he done a very good job under very difficult circumstances and I think we would have improved further in his second season.

WeePat: Overall, he did a decent job under difficult circumstances. Having watched some Napoli games from the season before, I was genuinely excited to watch Sarri bring that brand of football to Chelsea. He started out well enough, but once the unbeaten run was gone, so was the goodwill. The football was so bad, it wasn't even a poor imitation of his Napoli team. Fans were already frustrated by his refusal to give Hudson-Odoi any meaningful minutes, who subsequently handed in a transfer request. This was all playing out to the backdrop of the team going through a period of terrible form in the winter.

Sarri then exacerbated the situation when he was asked about Hudson-Odoi's England debut in Montenegro and he said "he didn't watch it he just saw some highlights". It came across as him not being bothered enough to check him out, and therefore having no interest in ever giving him a chance. There really was no turning back from that, and it became a matter of seeing out the season as well as possible.

Orc: Sarri was simply the wrong manager at the wrong time. While he implemented some good ideas and had us playing much better football than we had previously at times, it grew very stale as the season went on. He had 1 way of playing and refused to adapt. Had we not had this transfer ban, however, I think he would've chosen to stay and that the club would've wanted him to. With more time to bring his own players in and with a full preseason I think he'd have done well.

P-Ro: I defended Sarri until that Bournemouth game which we lost 4-0 in. It had been a matter of pride for me to say that we haven't been smashed in a game by more than a 3 goal difference for over 20 years and for it to end in that way against a team like Bournemouth was shameful. I then attended the worst live game I've ever seen in Manchester where we were 4-0 down within 25 minutes and eventually lost by 6.

The main issues I had with Sarri was that he was too stuck in his own ways which meant our opposition could prepare to play us weeks in advance and know our exact XI, our formation and capitalise on our weaknesses. Our football was dreadful too - we had 70% possession but it was all sideways, slow passes in the final third against 2 banks of 4. The most exciting parts of our matches were when we lost possession and the opposition counter attacked us. Sarri also took months to figure out that Ruben Loftus Cheek was by far our best option in the 3 with Kante & Jorginho and playing Kovacic in that position was useless because he doesn't score or assist.

We came third in the league down to how abject Spurs, Arsenal and United were in the final 10 games. We won the Europa League because we were the best team in that competition (not exactly something to brag about) and we had very favourable draws to the final, where we faced a team in Arsenal whose defense is a disgrace. I'm glad he left.

Mb194dc: It did work out. Sarri hit our objectives for the season, top 4 and winning the Europa. Also got the LC final and unlucky to lose on pens. It looked dicey at one point, I thought he would be sacked after the heavy away defeats to City and Bournemouth, clung on by his fingernails and delivered, eventually. Looking back the abuse at the bridge was way OTT, as was the general criticism of Jorginho during the season, that is modern football I guess.

The split was probably for the best in the sense that without replacing Hazard, the 4 3 3 system would have struggled this season. A manager with a more flexible tactical approach, and more leeway from the fans should be able to finish higher than Sarri could have done.

Pow: He just didnt fit tbh. The style was off and the mid season slump where we were losing seemingly every week. A lot of last season was down to eden and perhaps most importantly to the Cardiff game we won cause of luck. He was too set in his ways and took too long making the decision to play hudson odoi and loftus cheek despite everyone saying for weeks. Wish him well at juve. No hard feelings he got us top 4 and could have won 2 trophies if not for kepa.

Dancfc: Hard one to explain.
From a personal point of view I liked what he was trying to do. As much as the pragmatic safety first football was serving us well down the years the game was moving on and we needed to move with it to compete long term.

I don't think the initial hype helped, Sarriball was branded as some beautiful all action attacking football and it didn't quite live up to that hype, but I think he's layed good groundwork in terms of our possession play and how well we evade the press (a big weakness in even our title winning sides) which is something hopefully Lampard will build on.

Q2: Frank Lampard Chelsea manager. With him starting his managerial career just a year ago, you probably didn’t expect that he would be Chelsea manager so soon. How do you feel about Lampard being in charge, and what do you like/dislike about the way you've played under him so far?
Bullhitter: I don't think Lampard was the correct or optimal appointment and certainly not one I would have made if put in charge of the decision but there is still an element of excitement in him being the manager. It will be amazing if it comes off and I guess it was a chance that was always going to be taken some day so while I didn't agree with the appointment I do understand it.

WeePat: From a PR standpoint, Chelsea couldn't have made a better move. The good feelings are back, and there is a genuine buzz amongst the fans. Nobody is under any illusions that Lampard is still a novice, and it's hope rather than expectations that is the overriding feeling going into the new season.

The immediate thing that has stood out to me in preseason has been how the team presses high as a team - teams are going to struggle playing out from the back against us - and there's a real focus on controlling the midfield with emphasis on quick passing and forward movement, which has been a pleasant surprise. There are some negatives too, the biggest standout being defending from corners (if Maguire plays on Sunday, he could have a field day) which was something that plagued Lampard's Derby team last season. So both positives and negatives, with a lot to work on, and some key players returning to look forward to.

Orc: I was very hesitant about Lamps becoming Chelsea manager so soon. Didn't think it was a good idea considering the level of manager our rivals have. To go against world class managers I felt we needed a world class manager ourselves. I've warmed much more to the idea now, though. As for his setup, it's still very much a work in progress due to lots of injuries so it's difficult to assess. Kante, Rüdiger, Hudson Odoi, Loftus Cheek, Willian. All injured. These are all big players for us who I'm sure Frank will use in the first XI more often than not.

P-Ro: I am quietly positive about Lampard being our manager. He has an air of authority in his dealing with his players and the press which makes me think he isn't overawed by the task at all and he certainly doesn't have that deer in headlights look that Moyes had. Our preseason results have been very good and it makes a nice change from the shambles we've endured in preseason for the last couple of years.

As for our style of play, we certainly look far more dangerous going forward and we've done away with the possession at all costs philosophy of Sarri which is music to my ears. We have been counter attacking far more than what we ever did with Sarri as well. Our defense is our biggest weakness still and we have seen quite a few blunders by David Luiz (...Arsenal bound??). We also continue to have a seesaw problem with our fullbacks in that Azpilicueta is a fantastic defender but is awful at going forward, whilst Alonso can't defend but can be amazing on the attack.

Mb194dc: Definitely didn't think he would be in charge yet. That being said far preferable to Gracia who looked a real possibility at one point. He's been given the job so the club can lower expectations without us fans complaining to much. Out goals for the season are probably 5th and a final. More isn't realistic with a rookie manager and no Hazard. Could sugar coat it but that is the reality....

We're playing good attacking football and scoring for fun, but far too open, conceded 8 in last 3 games against nothing special opposition. That is concerning.

Pow: Love frank. Was born to be a manager. Dont really dislike the style. We move the ball quicker and with more purpose. One gripe especially from last game was the finishing. We drew 2 2 with gladbach but missed so many easy chances it could have easily been 7. We do have a lot of first choice players missing right now so we have to be fair with frank.

Dancfc: Was very happy. There's the obvious risks involved but factoring everything in now's a good a time as any. His style of play isn't a million miles from Sarri and we need a manager who could make use of our fantastic bunch of current youth players who are the real deal.

I like the fact we create so much, if pre season is anything to go by we won't struggle for goals like people predict but also defense is a huge worry, something seems not all there structurally and some of our games have had a worrying Brendan Rodgers esque vibe.

Q3: How do you think preseason has gone for you?
Bullhitter: Pre season seems to have gone okay but frustrating to have had what is likely to be almost a third of our best team possible injured for it in Rudiger, Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi.

WeePat: Decent is probably the most accurate summation. Nothing too flashy or concerning that is going to catch rival fans' eyes.

Orc: Typical preseason. Promising at times, concerning at others. We look considerably more dangerous going forward due to a slight shirt in formation. Defensively we've been all over the shop. Constant experimenting with CB pairings, our best CB Ruidiger being out, and Kante being missing haven't helped. Still, excited about what we could become with more work.

P-Ro: Covered in Q2.

Mb194dc: Answered mainly above, it's a shame Kante has only just come back as we need him fully understanding our new formation and tactics. Good to see Lampard getting the "kids" in and giving all the players a chance. Personally not sure Mount is ready to be a starter, we shall see I guess if he does against Utd & Liverpool after.

Pow: Steady. Like i said we are missing a few players who would start but cant really moan at that.

Dancfc: Pretty much covered above.

Q4: You’ve decided to serve your transfer ban this window without appealing it. Is there any specific player that has moved this window that you would have liked to see at Chelsea? Who and why?
Bullhitter: Removing the unrealistic ones such as de Ligt and de Jong I would have liked to have had the opportunity to sign Luka Jovic to lead the line. i think he would have been a perfect fit as the modern day powerful front man who can do it all.

WeePat:
I'm almost certain we would have held talks with Nicolas Pepe had it not been for the ban. We were also hopeful about Jovic, but I appreciate that even without the transfer ban, it would have been an unlikely move, considering the team he ended up signing for.

Orc: Chelsea still desperately needs a top class striker. While he hasn't moved clubs yet, Icardi is obviously available and is a player I've been keen on for years. He would've been absolutely perfect for our team and I'm sure the club would be after him if we were able to sign players.

P-Ro: Our main weakness is the striker. Giroud is great at linking play but he just doesn't score enough and can't run in behind the defenders. Abraham has the potential to be our first choice #9 but we just don't know if he'll be able to do it at the highest level. Batshuayi is a great finisher but he's been very inconsistent so far in his time at Chelsea and he acts like a child. I would have loved to have signed Icardi because he is a right mean bastard who wouldn't have the emotional teething problems like Torres and Morata had and would just bulldose his way through the league. He didn't have his best season last year and he does attract a bit of a media storm but I'd still definitely have him here.

Mb194dc: Maybe Felix, he's 19 and a possible wonder kid, could be the next generations great striker along with Mbappe. If we're realistic he probably wouldn't have wanted to move to England so young anyway though.

Pow: A striker. Its needs must really. Would have loved someone like Jovic here.

Dancfc: Pepe, would have been perfect for our right hand side and is a Chelsea fan.

Q5: With the transfer ban and having Lampard in charge, there’s a sense that there is encouragement for Lampard to use the youth players where the previous managers didn’t. The reports of him having at least two years in charge will help on that front. Which youth players do you think will break through this season?

Bullhitter: First of all I liked the approach of Sarri integrating both Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi slowly. I respected the fact that he had evaluated them and decided they needed to improve and earn their way in and that for a period of time he resisted the pressure to throw them in before he had deemed them ready. He didn't just give Hudson-Odoi starts as a bargaining tool to get him to sign a new deal for example. Outside of those two who wil hopefully kick on further than the obvious candidates are Abraham and Mount. Abraham will probably be given the chance to make the no.9 position his own so let's see if he takes it. Mount will get opportunities but midfield areas are where we are deepest but I think he is capable.

WeePat:
Reece James. Reece James. Reece James. Reece James. Reece James. Reece James.

And Mason Mount.

Seriously, Reece James feels like a hidden gem at the moment. I'm pretty certain he'll be our breakout star this season - at Azpilicueta's expense. He spent his first pro season on loan at Wigan, where he won player the season. They honoured him by naming him captain of the final game of the season. Wigan fans have called him the most talented player to ever play in a Wigan shirt. I predict he'll be challenging (and eventually beating) TAA for the England RB position in no time.

Orc: As has been shown in preseason, youth will play a huge role for us this season. Mason Mount will have the biggest impact in my eyes and is already a favorite of Lampard's. I expect all of our star academy grads to play huge minutes in the first team. RLC, CHO, Mount, and Reece James. Very unfortunate that 3 of those 4 are currently injured, otherwise they be playing straight away.

P-Ro:
Everyone knows about Callum Hudson Odoi so there's no point in going over him in detail. Reece James had a very good season in the Championship at Wigan (won their POTS, players' POTS and goal of the season) and could be a very interesting option at right back ahead of Azpilicueta who I believe is better playing at CB. Mason Mount had a fantastic season with Lampard and has been brilliant in our preseason; he is however competing with the likes of Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Barkley and Ruben Loftus Cheek for a place in midfield so his options might be limited by that. I expect our centre back Fikayo Tomori (who won POTS at Derby with Lampard) to get the nod in the League Cup and early FA cup rounds and will be our 4th choice CB if Luiz leaves.

Mb194dc:
CHO, RLC when both fit, maybe Christensen and hopefully Mount.

Pow: Mason mount really impressed me in pre season.
Hopefully reece james who was wigans poty and championship toty last season could get some game time at rb when hes back from injury.
Bar that the obvious hudson odoi and loftus cheek to really establish themselves.

Dancfc: Mason Mount and Reece James I think will be starters by the end. Tammy will be in the squad but while hearts telling me he will do a Harry Kane my head's saying he is a back up type of player.

Q6: Which three Chelsea players you think will be ones to watch this season?

Bullhitter: I think Emerson will establish himself as first choice left back, Jorginho will improve again after a year of adapting and Ross Barkley could finally begin to consistently deliver what he has promised as a talent for almost a decade.

WeePat: I think Pulisic will have a good season, and we'll have to see how Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek feel when they return from their injuries, but my three guys are Reece James, Mason Mount and - drum roll - Ross Barkley.

Barkley has been putting in incredible performances in preseason and I think he'll flourish in this new system Lampard has put him in.

Orc: Pulisic, Barkley, and Hudson-Odoi. Pulisic has huge boots to fill with our best player gone. He has looked excellent at times during preseason and with consistent improvement he can be a key player for us. Barkley finally looks to have turned a corner this summer under Lampard. He has been our best player in preseason and appears to have stepped up his game. He has taken it upon himself to be our primary penalty taker and free kick taker, both of which he has scored from this summer. When CHO returns from injury, I expect him to be our starting RW. This will be a huge season for him where he'll finally get what he has been asking for. To be a regular starter.

P-Ro: Ruben Loftus Cheek will show everyone that he is the best English central midfielder this season when he returns from injury. The guy is a tank, has incredible dribbling skills, is one of the fastest out there, can score and pick out a pass. The focus will also be on Pulisic and Hudson Odoi to see if either can step into the massive void left by the currently massive Hazard.

Mb194dc:
CHO, RLC (when they're fit) & Pulisic.

Pow:
Pulisic, Hudson odoi, Abraham

Dancfc: Mount, Barkley and Kovacic.

Q7: Eden Hazard won Chelsea Player of the Year four times - more than any other player in your history and is in your top 10 all-time goalscorers. What is your personal best Hazard moment, and what do you think of him as a player?

Bullhitter: Hazard is am amazing player but i think it's often overlooked that in the Abramovich era he has been the shining light while the team and club have been at it's weakest but I would say while he would be further down my personal list of Chelsea legends he was probably the most enjoyable to watch. An away goal at West Ham and the goal that ended Spurs' title hopes probably the ones that stick in the mind the most.

WeePat: It would be impossible to pick a moment that truly stands from litany of incredible moments in the last 7 years - but the overriding feeling I have when I think of Eden Hazard is how badly Chelsea let him down. He's a special talent - the most talented Chelsea player in my lifetime - who the club had 7 years to build a team around and in the end, even if Real Madrid weren't his dream club, you couldn't blame him for not wanting to waste the rest of his prime years on a club unwilling to match his ambitions.

Orc: My 2nd favorite Chelsea player ever after Drogba. Too many great moments to pick a particular one out so I'll just say that him always destroying Liverpool were some of my fondest memories.

P-Ro: Hazard is the best footballer to have played for Chelsea in my lifetime. Hands down. He did not have as big of an impact as Terry or Lampard but he will go down as legend and rightly so. I wish him all the best and I hope he destroys Barcelona and stops them winning anything. My favourite Hazard moment is the wonder goal against Liverpool away in the League Cup this season where he tore their midfield and defense apart. I was at that game and when he came on in the 55th minute the atmosphere around Anfield just changed completely because all the scousers knew he was going to do something.

Mb194dc: Favourite moment would be this goal v Spurs to make sure they couldn't win the title that season:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155442078387259

His most important performance was probably actually the last one demolishing Arsenal, making sure they don't have CL money for this season so giving us a better chance of top 4. Even without him here.

World class player who won everything apart from CL with us. Look forward to also watching him at RM this season. Can't be badmouthing him now he's left now can we?

Pow: Wow. So many to choose from. So many wonderful moments in big games. If i had to pick one id say goal vs spurs that ended their title hopes. That game was all out war and we had a shit season. And to see how petulant they got was hilarious. But so many wonderful goals. Wonder goals a plenty vs liverpool the one from the half vs arsenal where he sent coqulan spinning, against west ham this season even the one at old trafford in his first year where he placed ot in the top corner in the cup and we drew 2 2.
Wonderful player who im glad stayed as long as he did and an amazing dribbler.

Dancfc: Hard to pick out one as there's so many. I'd have picked his goal Vs Spurs had it benefited us but ultimately it was a moment for Leicester City. Would probably have to say my best moments of Hazard were those games where he was touched by god (the most recent example being West Ham at home in April), when those games came about there's no player in the world that could have done anything about it.

I think as a player he's incredible, while we got a great deal out of him I still felt he had an extra level that we never saw that often. It would be bitter sweet if that came out at Real but I feel if it does we will be looking at the best of the rest (after Messi/CR7) quite comfortably.

Q8: Is there any player (or players) you have that you feel could step up to the mantle and be your main player in terms of contribution like Hazard was for so long?

Bullhitter: No. It will take a collective effort if it can be done.

WeePat: I doubt it, in all honesty. He can be somewhat replaced collectively by the group, but there isn't a single player in the squad who you could say is ready to step up and replace Hazard's productivity. If we could get multiple players to 10 goals each, we could get somewhere.

Orc: We're almost certainly not going to directly replace a world class player's output individually. It will definitely be a collective effort. I'm confident that the combination of Pulisic, CHO, Barkley, and Mount will chip in plenty of goals from midfield. Three of those four have scored multiple times each in preseason which I'm hoping is a sign of things to come.

P-Ro: Ruben Loftus Cheek. He is the real deal.

Mb194dc:
No basically, need to be a team effort all 11 players and Lampard have to fill the void.

Pow:
Not one player. Gonna need the team to step up. Willian barkley pulisic abraham hudson odoi and ruben when they are back need to contribute.

Dancfc: This season no, but Lampard appears to know that and is skinning the cat so to speak another way. He played in a side where all players took equal responsibility and shared the burden between them and it looks like he's applying that onto his Chelsea (again if pre season is anything to go by), although we have a long way to match some of the sides he played in.

Q9: Where do you think both clubs will finish in the league this season, and how do you think you will do in the FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League under Lampard?

Bullhitter: I think Chelsea will finish 5th and United 6th.

WeePat: I look at United and Arsenal who have both bolstered their squads to varying degrees, but in terms of personel neither have improved to the point where I would completely give up on the thought of finishing in the top 4. So my hope is we'll finish 4th, but realistically we're more likely to end up in 6th.

Qualifying out of the group in Europe would count as a good enough effort in my book - beyond that we're relying exclusively on the luck of the draw. I expect to make deep runs in the both domestic cups, but again, we'll probably run into a better team in the latter stages.

Orc: For us, I'm expecting a pretty rough season filled with ups and downs and growing pains as a rookie PL manager settles in. With every rival around us improving via the transfer window, I sadly don't see us finishing in the top 4. I'd say 6th in the PL. I do, however, see us doing well in the cup comps where our improved squad depth will allow us to still play strong teams. The CL is always so unpredictable that depending on draws, I could see us going quite far.

As for Man United, I'm predicting a 3rd place finish. Still not enough firepower or consistency as City & Liverpool, but much improved from last season. Maguire and AWB will be massive signings.

P-Ro:
I reckon Chelsea and United will make the top 4 at the expense of Spurs and Arsenal. Despite our transfer ban, I'm very optimistic about our season, there has been a real good feeling around our club for the last few months and our squad depth (especially midfield) is only behind City and Liverpool in the Premier League. We end up winning a trophy most seasons so I'll be conservative and say we'll win the League Cup this season. I think AWB and Maguire will really sure up your defense and the confidence this brings will result in a huge improvement in De Gea's form. I don't rate Tottenham's squad past their starting XI, they rely too much on Kane & Son and they had a terrible end to the season. Arsenal are Arsenal.

Mb194dc:
Chelsea 5th, Utd 4th, either team could surprise I guess. Not entirely sure how the Pogba / Lukaku situations will play out at Utd before the window closes. I think we'll get to the final of one of the League or FA cup, and to the first knockout round of the CL, party thanks to our top seeding.

Pow:
Think how everyone has strengthened. City liverpool and spurs will be top 3 with united chelsea and arsenal again battling for 4th. I couldnt call it tbh.

Dancfc:
It's hard to tell, I think it's going to be yet another 4 way battle for the last two top four spots and a lot of it will depend on injuries, runs in other competitions and who gets the momentum at the right times. I can see us having a deep run in one of the domestic cups and I feel we may surprise a couple in the CL, we won't have enough to win it or even get to the final most likely but we will be more than capable of taking a scalp in a one off tie, good draw for RO16 then you never know.

Q10: What made you join here, what made you stick around and what do you like and dislike about the caf?

Bullhitter: The transfer tweets thread brought me here as I like having all the gossip and rumours and rubbish in one place because I don't click or read any of the media on their own merits nor do I partake in social media. Yes I enjoy reading here but do at times struggle with the fact that because there are so many members that no matter what is happening United related there are always a huge number who are happy with it which I guess can be a symptom of why owners such as the Glazers can get away with running clubs as they do when the fan base is so large.

WeePat: Initially I joined to leap to Mourinho's defence, as he was being dragged from pillar to post on here, but sadly I didn't get out of the newbies in time. You don't come across too many forums where rival fans are welcome the extent that this place has opened it's arms to non-United fans. Sticking around was an easy decision.

P-Ro: I'd been lurking since 2011 and I joined a few years later because I wanted to have a go at Peterstorey and Bob Loblaw. I got 9 likes in the Newbies quite quickly but gave up posting after no 10th like came. I later found out the mods didn't like promoting before 100 posts. I logged in a few years later to a message saying I'd been promoted. In the 3 years from when I registered to getting the promotion my enthusiasm for football debate has waned. You can now find me in the General salivating over food, creating shit threads and lightheartedly wumming. This isn't a criticism of the caf, but more of a plea - please stick to as little moderation to the General forum as possible.

Mb194dc:
Originally found the Caf I think as was interested in Utd fans opinions of Rooney, given he was being bigged up in press all the time but every-time I saw him play he was dreadful! Stuck around because of very interesting football and other chat on offer. Don't really dislike anything.

Pow:
Seemed a good site for all fans and the way everyone come together to hope the scousers didnt win the league was beautiful.
One annoying thing. Been here 4 years 1000 posts got 9 likes really quick and nothing since. Surely done enough by now :)

Dancfc:
Same reason for both (joining and sticking around) I like the variety of supporters that are here in the football section and it's something I've never seen anywhere else.

If there's one thing I would change is a button for "likes", being an option. Not for ego but mainly because it can give an idea how popular or not your pov is and a better idea of what the what the general opinion of other users are.

Q11: What XI would you like to see your team field against us?

Bullhitter: A 4-2-3-1 of Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Kovacic, Pedro, Barkley, Pulisic, Abraham. But I think it will be that but with Jorginho starting ahead of Kovacic and I think United will smother him and win the game from there.

WeePat: Kepa Azpilicueta Zouma Luiz Emerson Kante (Jorginho here, if Kante isn't fit enough to start) Mount Kovacic Barkley Abraham Batshuayi

That's a 442 diamond with Barkley in the 10 role. United have problems in midfield, so it's a good chance for Lampard to be brave with his line-up.

Orc: --------------------Batshuayi------------------
Pulisic--------------Barkley-------------Pedro
---------------Kante--------Jorginho-------------
Emerson---------Luiz--------Zouma--------Azpi
--------------------Arrizabalaga-------------------

P-Ro:
What I want assuming Kante is not fit: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson//Kovacic, Mount, Barkley//Pulisic, Abraham, Willian
I think Lampard will play Jorginho at the base and move Kovacic more forward at the expense of Mount. I also think Pedro will start over Willian who is short of match fitness.
Predicted XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson//Jorginho, Kovacic, Barkley//Pulisic, Abraham, Pedro

Mb194dc:
4 2 3 1, low block and with the wide players in the 3 sitting quite deep and attempting to counter attack, bouncing long balls off Giroud.

I would have Rudiger for Christensen if fit. Maybe Jorginho for Kovacic. Tough one. Basically going for experience for big away game.

Pow:
Kepa
Azpi zouma luiz emerson
Jorginho
Kante barkley
Pulisic willian
Giroud

Dancfc: Kepa, Azpi, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson, Kante, Jorginho/Kova, Pulisic, Mount, Barkley, Giroud.

Q12: Finally, your predictions for the match?

Bullhitter: 4-1 to United

WeePat: If Lampard is brave enough to go with line-up, we can win the midfield battle, especially if Ole decides to play Matic, so therefore 2-1 Chelsea. If we go with a different line-up, then 1-1.
It's opening game of the season, if you can't be wide-eyed optimistic for the first game of the season, then when can you?

Orc: 2-1 to United. At home, first match, good new players, us still very much a work in progress. I think this will be an open game where both sides have lots of chances. Our defensive frailty will prove the difference. Glad to get the visit to Old Trafford out of the way immediately.

P-Ro:
I'm going for an away win 1-2. Ps if any of you have a spare ticket let me know. I promise not to celebrate too much in the Stretty.

Mb194dc:
A diplomatic 1-1.

I think Utd are moderate favourites though as the game is at OT, both Lampard's first competitive game as Chelsea manager, and his first as a PL manager full stop.

Pow: Head says score draw but i think we could with the right attitude and tempo get a win here so id say 1-2 chelsea.

Dancfc: Another cop out answer, hard to really tell. Given the place both teams are at in their respective process's it can be a game one team win comfortably (if one team brings the A game and the other has an off day) but it also has potential for either a bore draw or a heart racing end to end game.

Literally any scenario you can think off wouldn't surprise me.

Bonus Question: What do you think of Luiz's move to Arsenal?

Bullhitter: I don't think it necessarily weakens us as Rudiger is by far out best CB and there isn't much between Luiz, Christensen and Zouma. Plus Tomori as backup option and Azpilicueta can also play there. I do think it strengthens Arsenal but Luiz has shown in the past that he can be a very negative presence if he doesn't feel "loved" so if he wasn't going to be first choice it is probably best to move him on. The fee seems low on the face of it but he is 32 and was out of contract this summer so Arsenal or anybody could have had him for nothing before he renewed in May.

WeePat: From a football perspective, I won't miss him. I don't have a problem with letting him go, though selling him to Arsenal for such a low fee seems unnecessary. Emotionally, it's different. I love him and I hate that I now have to watch him in an Arsenal shirt.

Orc: Annoyed but not devastated. I think it'll be similar to when we sold Matic to United. Great initially, then his weaknesses will be painfully exposed.

What's worrying for us is that Zouma and Christensen have just about zero experience playing alongside one another. And now they've got mere days to work on things.

P-Ro: I love the man. He was instrumental in us winning the Champions League and he will be forever remembered as a hero. I was there 4 years ago when he came back to Stamford Bridge as a PSG player and I went ballistic at all the Chelsea supporters who were booing him. Everyone knows that he is not perfect with his positioning but he is great at one-on-one defending. I think he will be fantastic at Arsenal because his through balls from deep will be far more effective at Arsenal where you have three quick forwards who like to run in behind the defense. I wish we had found a club abroad who could have taken him. It's Chelsea's fault that he is at Arsenal. I hope our fans show him the respect he deserves.

Mb194dc: Disappointed, Luiz is an exceptional ball playing defender. Will give Lampard the benefit of the doubt though and see how the season goes.

Pow: Honestly. Not that fussed that we sold him more pissed off weve sold him to them. Whilst hes not our best defender or the best in the league or anything like that he does improve them. But he has always had a mistake in him and in a less stuctured side like they are it could get ugly for him.
But what a vote of confidence that is to the younger cbs tomori zouma and christensen. Franks is going all in on the youth and everyone gets a chance. And that is exciting.
 

Raw

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Always liked these! Quite a mix of expectations for the season, it's really difficult to predict how well they're going to do this season.
 

Dancfc

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Oh shit forgot to answer the added question about Luiz I will do it in a comment later on.
 

izec

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no @duffer?

good read, i dont know that many Chelsea fans on here, some stick around, most of these posters are pretty new to me.
 

SilentWitness

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Quality idea to bring this back and a good read. Always enjoy them.
 

Orc

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We're in for a bumpy but exciting season. Oddly, I'm actually sort of looking forward to a season in which I won't be expecting huge things. I just want to see a style implemented that's friendly on the eye and for our young players to progress significantly.
 

Damien

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I did get asked but thought "I'll do that later" then promptly forgot. Sorry @Damien
No worries.

no @duffer?

good read, i dont know that many Chelsea fans on here, some stick around, most of these posters are pretty new to me.
He was the first one I messaged. Asked seven originally, three Chelsea fans didn't reply so asked three more and they all replied pretty promptly, eager to do it.
 

P-Ro

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I really enjoyed @Orc's answer to question 10 :D
 

esmufc07

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Really enjoyed that, good answers and an interesting insight. Great feature.
 

Jersey Heel

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Awesome job all around!
 

P-Ro

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PS congrats @Pow, you certainly did enough here to warrant your 10th like.
 

Mr Smith

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Really good read. Has also left me more confident than I was previously about this weekend's game, I wasn't aware of the extent of Chelsea's defensive problems.
 

Pow

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PS congrats @Pow, you certainly did enough here to warrant your 10th like.
Thank you. Love how we are all pretty much on the same page tbh reading those responses especially on signing a forward.
 

The Purley King

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Excellent initiative - really enjoyed reading that. Hopefully we get one of these for each game!
 

12OunceEpilogue

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And there was me assuming all Chelsea fans were glory-hunting know-nothing feckwits.

Now I'm sure of it!





In seriousness a good read, thanks for taking the time. It seems like we're in similar boats this season; a few doubts and unknown quantities but plenty to be excited about too. We also both dislike Liverpool, which is good.
 

Pow

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And there was me assuming all Chelsea fans were glory-hunting know-nothing feckwits.

Now I'm sure of it!





In seriousness a good read, thanks for taking the time. It seems like we're in similar boats this season; a few doubts and unknown quantities but plenty to be excited about too. We also both dislike Liverpool, which is good.
We are, but the pressure ole is under is far greater. Frank is under a ban has lost the teams best player and most experienced cb and i think the fans well at least i am are giving him a free hit this season. Where as you had a chance to make the ground up but your window was odd how it petered out to say the least. Your problems in defence have been addressed but youve lost the most consistent mid you had and not replaced him and lost minimum 15 goals up front and not replaced him. Big decision that was.

Everyone hates the scousers and their incessant whining, last season really was hell. Thank god for kompany.
 

12OunceEpilogue

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We are, but the pressure ole is under is far greater. Frank is under a ban has lost the teams best player and most experienced cb and i think the fans well at least i am are giving him a free hit this season. Where as you had a chance to make the ground up but your window was odd how it petered out to say the least. Your problems in defence have been addressed but youve lost the most consistent mid you had and not replaced him and lost minimum 15 goals up front and not replaced him. Big decision that was.
True, and Ole has had to say today Lukaku going without being replaced is all part of Greenwood's development plan, which is either PR guff or complete insanity. To be fair to Ole though I don't think our window petered out because of him, I lay the blame for Herrera and Lukaku leaving seemingly without any contingency plan in place firmly at Woodward and the Glazers' door. I feel both managers have been asked to pull more than their fair share of rabbits from hats, though I agree Lampard should have less expectation on him for the reasons you say as well as being newer both to management and his current role.
 

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Fantastic thread, thanks for your efforts all.

Albeit I think some of the guys have been a bit generous to us with their score prediction.
That'd be me with my 4-1 prediction then :)

I just think United are going to start with so much intensity and smother Jorginho (who I wouldn't start for this reason) and I think United's problem this season is going to be scoring the first goal but Chelsea have been so poor defensively this summer that I can see United scoring first, and possibly early, and then the pace on the counter is dangerous.
 

Orc

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My answer about United finishing 3rd was made before the transfer window closed, btw. I'd revise it now and say 5th. I figured that you guys would surely bring in a couple more attack minded signings that would take you up a level.

I think Spurs and Arsenal will finish 3rd and 4th now.
 

Pow

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True, and Ole has had to say today Lukaku going without being replaced is all part of Greenwood's development plan, which is either PR guff or complete insanity. To be fair to Ole though I don't think our window petered out because of him, I lay the blame for Herrera and Lukaku leaving seemingly without any contingency plan in place firmly at Woodward and the Glazers' door. I feel both managers have been asked to pull more than their fair share of rabbits from hats, though I agree Lampard should have less expectation on him for the reasons you say as well as being newer both to management and his current role.
It looked like at one point we would be playing a untied with the likes of dybala fernandes etc lining up in, but now back to a matic fred mata pogba standard line up gives me great hope, if we keep a high tempo in the midfield we could get a good result.
 

MyOnlySolskjaer

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That'd be me with my 4-1 prediction then :)

I just think United are going to start with so much intensity and smother Jorginho (who I wouldn't start for this reason) and I think United's problem this season is going to be scoring the first goal but Chelsea have been so poor defensively this summer that I can see United scoring first, and possibly early, and then the pace on the counter is dangerous.
Alternatively we won’t be able to score and you guys can.

Does Lampard rate Jorginho? When I think of Chelsea’s midfield over the years, Jorginho is the furthest to what I’m used to in terms of profile.
 

Dancfc

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11. From a sentimental point of view it's hard one to take as we all thought Luiz was part of Chelsea so to speak however if he was being a bad influence on the squad we were right to get rid as all it takes is one to sap squad morale.
 

George The Best

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Great thread. @Damien please keep this going if you have the time.

Really appreciated the responses from the Chelsea fans also, good guys to be on here and very honest too.
 

Bullhitter

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Alternatively we won’t be able to score and you guys can.

Does Lampard rate Jorginho? When I think of Chelsea’s midfield over the years, Jorginho is the furthest to what I’m used to in terms of profile.
Yeah Lampard rates him and has described him as a leader on the pitch. He probably looks at Jorginho doing with ease what he adapted himself well at in his latter years.

I really rate Jorginho, would start him in 95% of games, just think this is one where he could be gotten at and over powered by McTominay and Pogba.
 

RedDevilRoshi

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That was a very good read.

Are we going to be getting more of these over the course of the season? I hope so!
 

Martial

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Great content.

Be careful, or The Athletic will steal ya guys!