Chelsea 2015/16 Season Preview
It was a season of Chelsea fans signing about celery come the end of the year. Double champs in the BPL and the League Cup, Jose Mourinho continued his dominance from the Chelsea hot seat, but will the blues be able to match their efforts this season? The Hype Train delves into the seemingly abundant array of talent within London’s west end, and the players that will fill FPL teams.
Last season, in all honesty, was kind of killed off well before John Terry lifted yet another blue tasselled crown. With only three losses all season, the league season did not match up to the FPL in the slightest. Chelsea, they stormed the league in predictable fashion. They had predictable FPL stars. Hazard, Ivanovic, Terry, Costa, and Fabregas. They had unsung heroes in Azpilicueta. But in general, the FPL season mirrored Chelsea’s season, for all the wrong reasons. No Luis Suarez meant no reliable points each week. Chelsea and Everton, the two go-to teams for defensive points during the early part of the season, just couldn’t help but concede. Players drafted in for big Double Gameweeks, like Remy, mostly found themselves injured, missing most, if not all of the crucial action that they were supposed to be a part of. There was a distinct lack of penalties at Chelsea, or so their fans will scream at you. There was no justice for the millions who captained Kane against Hull at home, and none when die-hard Azpi fans found the Spaniard randomly on the bench for Filipe Luis.
In a season defined by marginal points, and big break out moments if you captained players at the right time, the one true safety net this season was Chelsea. Points were concentrated, and often, but with a new season where transfers have been few and far between, and the line-up might not change one bit, will Chelsea be found out? That’s what we’ll attempt to pin, because as outsiders viewing football, purely as football, the trio at the Hype Team don’t believe Chelsea will be hard-pressed by another team for the title. We’re looking at another season of relative consistency with the Blues, unless there are some wildly unpredictable, and exciting results at the start of the season. Whilst this very author is hoping for just that, a thirty game losing streak for Mourinho and his champions, the reality is much brighter.
History in the Premier League
Chelsea have won 4 BPL crowns in 10 years. Mourinho won the first 2, and the latest. Last season was a success, whilst the 2013/14 season is only remembered for the game ‘Steve Gerrar Gerrar, he slipped on the grass the grass, gave the ball to Demba Ba. Gerrar Gerrar.’ Bemoaning a lack of a striker (despite having Torres, Ba, and Eto’o), Mourinho rectified his so called ‘issue’ with signing two of La Liga’s best: Fabregas and Costa. The duo helped galvanise a squad flagging behind the Manchester duo, and even Liverpool, into a dominant champion-winning team.
• BPL crowns in 2004/05, 2005/06, 2009/10, and 2014/15
• Mourinho at the helm for 3 of the 4 title wins.
• John Terry has been captain the entire time, and is the only Chelsea captain to lift the BPL trophy as a result.
• Eden Hazard finished as the top FPL player last season, with 233 points.
• Branislav Ivanovic as the top defender (179), and Terry the second highest (177).
• Diego Costa was one of only 3 people to reach 20 goals last season. Only Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero scored more.
Chelsea's BPL Winning Team
Chelsea were built from the back last season, keeping 17 clean sheets. Ivanovic was untouched at right-back, whilst Cahill and Terry kept a tight lid in the middle of the park. For much of the season Azpi controlled the left-back slot. Filipe Luis and Kurt Zouma were the only defenders properly rotated into the side, with Azpi and Cahill stepping aside for half a dozen matches. The prospect of rotation left Terry and Ivanovic as the main FPL targets, and rightly so. Terry scored five goals, his second best BPL return. Whilst Ivanovic scored 4 and assisted 6 to become the highest points scorer as a defender. Ivan’s attacking potential alone is going to be his killer difference this season, and starting at £7.0m, we fully expect his price to rise significantly should he hit the near or the same heights this season.
In the middle of the park, Matic bested most opposition. The only game where he was pulled apart was the high scoring away loss to Spirs. Matic didn’t play in the first defeat of the season, away at Newcastle (but Chelsea have historically slipped on the grass at ST James’s, so did it ever really matter?). Fabregas, because of Matic’s overall bad-assery controlled the pitch, pin-pointing passes, and racking up assist after assist, until an injury slowed his FPL tally. Willian was the pass master in the attacking third, controlling the flow of the attacking, doing what Ozil does for Arsenal. Spreading the play, and keeping the pitch wide, leaving Hazard available to run-ragged.
Up top, Costa was there to pick the bones, resulting in 20 goals in a season with an injury and two suspensions. When unavailable, Loic Remy, bemoaning his lack of first team action even though he come from two teams that always played him, chipped in with 7 goals of his own. A great return for a player who by his own admission, rarely featured, and was injured for the most important Double Gameweek of last season, to the frustrations of FPL managers everywhere.
With a new season approaching, we expect the line-up to stay exactly the same. Matic has even recently stated that the team are happy with what they’ve got, but pundits and Mourinho alike believe that they need another big Matic type in the middle of the park, especially for European games, if they’re going to assault the competition that Abramovich favours most. The Champions League. If Chelsea do get any players in, they’ll be looking at a replacement for an Athletico bound Filipe Luis, and a third striker should Remy get itchy feet, knowing full well his place in the France squad will be jeopardised with another season benching it at the bridge.
Chelsea Appearances 2014/15
As you’ll come to see, what won Chelsea their latest BPL crown was a consistency with team selection in the league. All appearances have been ranked in order of appearances, with substitute appearances appearing in brackets.
Thibaut Courtois: 32
Petr Cech: 6 (1)
Branislav Ivanovic: 38
John Terry: 38
Gary Cahill: 33 (3)
Cesar Azpilicueta: 29
Filipe Luis: 9 (6)
Kurt Zouma: 7 (8)
Eden Hazard: 38
Namanja Matic: 35 (1)
Willian: 28 (8)
Cesc Fabregas: 33 (1)
Oscar: 28 (1)
Ramires: 11 (12)
John Obi Mikel: 6 (12)
Andre Schurrle: 5 (9)
Juan Cuadrado: 4 (8)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 2 (1)
Mohamed Salah: 0 (3)
Didier Drogba: 8 (20)
Diego Costa: 24 (2)
Loic Remy: 6 (13)
Chelsea’s Key Men & Stats
When it boils down to the wire and you’re stuck in a dilemma about who to bank in your team, last season’s stats go a long way at determining where Chelsea’s points are coming from. Hazard/Ivan/Fab/Costa are the obvious picks, but with a reasonably priced goalkeeper, and a few hidden gems worth our attention, it may come down to value. It’ll have to come down in value in you’re an FPL manager who wants so badly to have Sergio Aguero, priced at £13m, in your FPL team from day one. If he plays from day one, that is.
Diego Costa: 20
Eden Hazard: 14
Loic Remy: 7
John Terry: 5
Branislav Ivanovic: 4
Didier Drogba: 4
Cesc Fabregas: 3
Andre Schurrle: 3
Gary Cahill: 1
Namanja Matic: 1
Chelsea managed the second highest goal tally (73), only behind Man City (83)
Chelsea kept 17 clean sheets last season, a league high
The Blues only conceded 32 goals, a league low
Diego Costa was the only blue to score a hat-trick last season. At home against Swansea. With the Swans at the Bridge on day one, and with 5 goals against them last season, is Costa set to continue his spree?
Chelsea were awarded 5 penalties last season. Hazard took 4, scored three, and had one saved by Julian Speroni (but scored the rebound). Costa took the fifth penalty, at home on the final day against Sunderland.
Mourinho was unbeaten at home, all three losses came away from home, against Newcastle, Spurs, and West Brom.
Cesc Fabregas: 18 assists
Eden Hazard: 9 assists
Oscar: 8 assists
Branislav Ivanovic: 6 assists
Ramires: 4 assists
Diego Costa: 3 assists
Cesar Azpilicueta: 3 assists
Willian: 3 assists
Nemanja Matic: 3 assists
Gary Cahill: 1 assist
John Obi Mikel: 1 assist
Didier Drogba: 1 assist
Chelsea’s most picked players last season – Fabregas, Hazard, Costa, and Ivanovic – would have bagged you 36 assists last season, if you’d have played them all at the right time. Next season we envision that the statistics this time next year will be very close to what they are now. So expect Fabregas to go through a stellar patch of assists, even more so now that’s he’s deeper into the prime of his career.
In between the sticks, a new number one was established. Courtois played every game where he was fully fit, keeping 12 clean sheets. Simeon Mignolet kept 14 clean sheets, to put it into perspective. Cech pretty much kept a clean sheet every time he played, but no FPL player backed the new Arsenal signing.
Courtois: 32 games, 12 clean sheets
Cech: 7 games (one sub appearance mixed in), 5 clean sheets.
With Begovic brought in, Courtois has a spot nailed down for the season. At £5.5m, the Belgian stopper is the cheapest Chelsea defensive option, but with Ivanovic and Azpi among the pre-season Hype players, players are gunning faith with Petr Cech between the posts. It’s almost like having another Chelsea player in your team, in all honesty. Either way, with Cech or Courtois, both are going to play most, if not all, league games this season. They’ll both be in the top 10 keepers, and be up in the top five if they save enough penalties. After Begovic conceded four against the New York Red Bulls in his non-competitive debut, many football pundits have called into question whether Begovic can actually command a single minute of BPL football. The answer, of course, is yes.
Should Courtois get an injury at any point in the season, Begovic will play, and he'll be 5m (or even less if there is a price drop), so he'll be a great pick to allow pricier forwards and midfielders. This is of course under the authority that an FPL player will already have a more expensive option, such as Cech or Hart, as their chosen keeper. Another potential injury that would free up a ton of money is if Costa is out for a spell, leaving Falcao (currently priced at £7.5m) as a great forward option.
Chelsea attained a total of 74 yellow cards last season, with 4 red cards, 3 of which that were deemed as straight red offenses. Ivanovic’s red card at Old Trafford was the only sending off caused by two yellow cards. Matic was red-carded in the charged home fixture verses Burnley. Azpi saw red away at Crystal Palace for a two footed challenge, and Fabregas accurately kicked a ball at a West Brom player from distance when the referee was dealing was dealing with yet another squabble with Diego Costa.
Cesc Fabregas: 11 yellow, 1 red
Branislav Invanovic: 11 yellow, 1 red
Nemanja Matic: 10 yellow, 1 red
Diego Costa: 8 yellow
Didier Drogba: 5 yellow
Oscar: 5 yellow
Gary Cahill: 5 yellow
Ramires: 4 yellow
Willian: 3 yellow
Cuadrado: 2 yellow
Andre Schurrle: 2 yellow
Eden Hazard: 2 yellow
John Terry: 2 yellow (lucky not to see red away at West Brom)
John Obi Mikel: 1 yellow
Filipe Luis: 1 yellow
Cesar Azpilicueta: 1 yellow, 1 red
Thibaut Courtois: 1 yelow
What’s worth noting for the season ahead is that there is a great bonus in having Azpi in your defense. Not only is he £1m cheaper than Terry and Ivanovic, he rarely picks up cards. He’s solid and reliable and with the change in bonus points that on paper give advantages to centre backs, Azpi has been doing that for two years now. The Spaniard is the league’s best man-to-man marker, and makes just as many interceptions, clearances and tackles as the centre back combination. Obviously, the downside is that with a greater attacking potential from full-back, the Azpi bonus points might dry up, expecting all full-backs to fit the same mould. Not everyone is Clyne or Ivan, so Azpi’s a special case. Nevertheless, expect his potential rotation curse to potentially end with Filipe Luis no longer at his heels, but expect a replacement that will steal a game or two.
The season was over, well before Chelsea suffered their first defeat, away at Newcastle during Gameweek 15. Mourinho had quelled all belief the title was going anywhere else by Xmas. Finsihing with 87 points in total, 8 better than Man City, the stats don’t lie on a superb season.
Ended the season with a 68.1% winning percentage. They won 26, drew 9, and lost 3.
Conceding only 32 goals, that’s an average of 0.8 goals per game.
Chelsea averaged 533.4 passes per game, only behind Arsenal and Man United on average.
Conceded 3 penalties throughout the season.
Finished top of the home form table, with 15 wins, 4 draws, and a total of 49 points just at the Bridge.
Only conceded 9 goals at home. Unbreakable. Steven Gerrard was 1 of the 9.
Chelsea also finished top of the away table, with 11 wins, 5 draws, and 3 losses, totalling 38 points. QPR only managed 7 points away from home. Chelsea beat QPR, just from points away from home. In fact the blues would have finished 14th in the table, just off away results.
Chelsea have kept their dealing’s this summer relatively low-key. The arrival of Falcao has been viewed with an eye of scepticism, but with Mourinho believing he can turn the fortune’s around for the once-clinical Columbian, he could be in for a big season if he plays (which he probably won’t). Then again, Mourinho isn’t right with everything, the Special One has let some very, very good talent go in the last 24 months, all because they can’t break into the main 11, and stay there.
In terms of the other transfers, four have come in. Begovic will occupy one of the sub spots, and will probably feature in a maximum of five league outings unless Courtois is injured for a lengthy period of time. The singings of Danilo Pantić and Nathan have already been farmed out to Chelsea’s unofficial academy in Holland, Vitesse. Whilst Kenedy will not break into the eleven, he’ll get the Ake treatment, play all of 100 minutes throughout the season.
So it’s going to be business as usual, and whilst Chelsea chase Everton’s John Stones, we don’t anticipate if they sign the Toffee that he’ll actually play, and if he does play, he'll be played out of position. He’ll most likely be groomed by Terry and Cahill for the future. With England almost definitely going to the Euro’s next summer in France, football fans must be asking why he’d go to Chelsea. Risk his place in Hodgson’s squad, and not play football all season, it’d be a huge risk for the young player.
Player Name Former Club Fee
Ramadel Falcao Monaco Loan (season)
Kenedy Fluminense £6,300,000
Asmir Begović Stoke City £8,000,000
Nathan Atlético Paranaense £4,500,000
Danilo Pantić Partizan £1,250,000
Current FPL Squad
As of the 21st July 2015 this is the full FPL Squad for Chelsea for the upcoming season. Under the ‘position’ column we have added the positions the players are most known for playing and can play.
Captain: John Terry
Courtois - GK - 5.5
Begovic - GK – 5.0
Ivanovic - RB – 7.0
Terry - CB – 7.0
Azpilicueta - LB – 6.0
Cahill - CB - 6.5
Zouma - CB - 5.5
Filipe Luis - LB - 5.5
Ake - LB/RB/CDM - 4.5
Hazard - LM/RM/CAM – 11.5
Fabregas - CM/CAM - 9.0
Oscar - CAM – 8.5
Willian - LM/RM/CAM – 7.0
Matic – CM/CDM – 5.0
Moses – RM/CAM - 5.5
Ramires – CDM/RM - 5.5
Mikel - CDM - 4.5
Cuadrado - RM - 7.5
Loftus-Cheek - CDM - 5.0
Costa - ST - 11.0
Falcao - ST - 7.5
Remy - ST - 7.5
Solanke - ST - 5.0
FPL managers will be looking to use set-piece takers in the squads in hopes of getting that free kick scorer on their books, or an assist from a corner or set piece situation. Chelsea don’t provide that many kick-takers, which is great for FPL players. Corners are Fab’s domain, pens for Hazard, and free-kicks between the attacking midfield.
Penalties: Hazard, Costa
Direct Free Kicks: Oscar, Fabregas, Willian, Diego Costa
Indirect Free Kicks: Oscar, Fabregas, Willian, Diego Costa
Corners: Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard
The MVP of last season, Eden Hazard, only managed to convert three out of his four penalties. As previously stated, Chelsea fans go mad at that number, it should have been at least two more. Southampton away with Fabregas brought out conspiracy talk, but FPL players, we just care about the numbers. Hazard achieved his grand total of 233 points without taking any other set pieces other than penalties. It could have been even more on the final day had Costa not taken a penalty against Sunderland to wrap up his 20th goal of the campaign.
Set pieces are usually the work of Fabregas. 18 assists in the league last season is proof that the team revolves around his movement and passing ability.
Potential Squad for Opening Day & Season
Unlike with the season preview articles featuring the newcomers, Chelsea have a pretty straight forward selection. They’ll most likely operate in a 4-2-3-1, with Matic and Fabregas bossing the middle, Ivanovic playing his standard right forward role, and Hazard left to roam the midfield area.
With Swansea at home at the bridge, here’s what the world thinks and knows will be the Chelsea line up.
Now, with the addition of Falcao, we suspect that another formation may creep into Chelsea’s arsenal, especially if they’re chasing a game. The 4-4-2. It’ll most likely be used when the Blues are chasing a goal, they’ll take a midfield player off, and play both Costa and Falcao up top. This formation is only going to work if Chelsea have three established strikers at the beginning of the season. We don’t think Solanke will see any game time, leaving Remy as the third choice, but with rumours linking him with Pardew at Palace, there’s a slim chance that we’ll only see two strikers operate with one up top.
Chelsea's First Ten
We actually think Chelsea, on paper, have a difficult opening 10 games. Swansea are hardly pushovers, Man City away is a game they've not won in a few years. Everton and Newcastle away could be banana skins, whilst they also lost away to West Brom. Chelsea also couldn't beat Southampton last season. Of course, they're favourites to win any match, but there is always the potential for a slip up, and on this occasion despite the strength of the champions, they head into a run of 10 that offers many difficult obstacles. As FPL players, we might be put off the pricy defenders, just in case the same happens as last season happens. 3 clean sheets from the opening 10 games.
When every FPL season launches, the more experienced you become, a general thought that occurs about which three Chelsea players should you pack into your squad. If the money is available, Ivanovic and Hazard are essentials, but depending on your FPL tactic will dictate whether you’ll put money up top, in the middle, or double down on Chelsea defenders. At the beginning of the season, two defenders from one team is madness, isn’t it? Well, Chelsea have managed 16+ clean sheets in their last four season, so why not bolster the ranks with Courtois or Azpi? The latter certainly has a habit of grabbing bonus points whenever a clean sheet is involved. Elsewhere, doubling down on Hazard and Fabregas means that for every goal Chelsea score, there’s a very, very high chance you’ll get points in some capacity.
That’d be our suggestion, double down. The trend for the pricing of FPL players this season is heavily weighted towards costly midfielders, meaning the reality of having both Costa and Aguero in your teams, and still having a team full of points, might be unlikely. We’d suggest a combo of Courtois/Azpi/Ivan or Hazard/Fabregas. Alternatively, make the spine of your team a Chelsea one: Ivanovic/Terry, Hazard, Costa. All are FPL essentials, and they’ll get you the points.
The grace about Chelsea with this article is that we can be short and sweet because most FPL players are quite decisive with their Chelsea selection, but smart players will potentially double-down for a good day, especially as Diego Costa, despite his 20 goals last season, has a tendency to draw yellow cards.
The Hype Train expects Chelsea to finish no lower than they did last season. They’ll lose away at Newcastle, and struggle at Sunderland. As they always do. But all arrows are pointing to them reclaiming their honour, and lifting the crown come May.