Chelsea have made a habit of winning the Premiership title every other year, but bookmakers have already written off their chances ahead of the new season. The Blues lifted the trophy in 2015, only to flop the following year and watch Leicester beat Arsenal and Spurs to the title.
They then roared back to form and won it under Antonio Conte in 2017, before struggling again last season and finishing down in fifth. That suggests it could be time for Chelsea to return to the summit of English football once more, and May’s FA Cup win should spur their confidence.
When we check out the odds on Chelsea to win the title in 2018/19, you will find them as huge underdogs. Manchester City are odds-on favourites to defend their crown, even though no team has pulled off that feat in the past decade.
Champions League finalists Liverpool are second favourites, followed by Manchester United. Only then do you come to Chelsea, who are neck and neck with Tottenham in the betting, with some bookies offering odds as long as 20/1 on them landing the title.
But there is pretty much zero love for the Blues. Could they prove everyone wrong? Well, the bones of a great team is there, with Thibaut Courtois in goal, N’Golo Kante prowling the
midfield and Eden Hazard wreaking havoc in attack. But the squad clearly needs some surgery.
They need a new defensive lynch-pin as David Luiz and Gary Cahill are ageing, and a quicker and more dynamic striker to compete with Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud would be a huge bonus.
The problem for Chelsea, and this has surely impacted the bookmakers’ decision to make them huge underdogs, is in their recent transfer dealings. Morata has not justified his price tag, and they have not landed a genuine superstar since signing Kante.
The likes of Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley are hugely underwhelming, while Timoue Bakayoko has been a total flop, so they need to show more ambition in recruiting midfielders to play alongside Kante.
Antonio Rudiger is a good first team player, as are Cesar Azpilicueta, Willian, Marcos Alonso
and Victor Moses, while Davide Zappacosta looks a decent back-up and Giroud is a good squad player, as is Pedro.
But for Chelsea to win the title they need a stronger spine. The Cech-Terry-Lampard-Drogba axis was formidable and it inspired fear among opposing teams before games had even started.
It requires Roman Abramovich to make another statement of intent in the transfer market, and he has never been shy in this department before.
The club spent £232 million in the transfer market last season, and £120 million the previous year, but greater investment is needed to keep up with Man City’s Emirati backers, and the ambitious projects at Man Utd and Liverpool.
Abramovich is a competitive individual and – regardless of any furore around visa issues – he will not want to see his beloved team left behind by richer backers.
After all, this is a man with one of the biggest yachts in the world, and he does not take kindly to anyone trying to outdo him. Expect wholesale changes in the playing staff and the backroom staff this summer following the team’s underwhelming 2017/18 campaign, and Chelsea should be right back in the mix for glory next season, so that 20/1 might start looking very attractive indeed.