Chelsea head into the 2018/19 season hoping new manager Maurizio Sarri can inspire them back into the top four in the Premier League.
Sarri has taken over from compatriot Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge, but the former Napoli boss faces a difficult job to move the Blues back up the table.
Chelsea’s squad needs improving, with midfielder Jorginho the only major arrival at the club so far this summer, although that is likely to addressed before the season starts.
New signings needed
Chelsea have been frustrated in their efforts to strengthen their squad, but that should change as the transfer deadline approaches.
A £71 million deal for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has been agreed, opening the door for Thibaut Courtois to join Real Madrid.
Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic is also set to join Chelsea on a season-long loan, while a deadline day deal for Lyon star Nabil Fekir could also be completed.
A new centre-half and striker also wouldn’t go amiss, but Chelsea have left it late to get their transfer business done.
Sarri must instil discipline
Conte was a disgruntled figure for the majority of last season and his moodiness sometimes rubbed off on the team.
His whinges about video assistant referee, Mike Jones, after Chelsea’s third round FA Cup replay victory over Norwich City smacked of a man at odds with the world around him.
As noted by former Premier League official Keith Hackett during a recent interview with Betway, referees sometimes make mistakes and Sarri must ensure he and his team stay disciplined this term, whatever the fates throw at them.
Sarriball could transform Chelsea
Sarri’s tactics worked brilliantly in Naples last season. Although they finished second to Juventus in Serie A, they averaged more shots per game than most of Europe’s top clubs.
The arrival of ‘Sarriball’, as the Italian’s style of play has been dubbed, will be welcomed by Chelsea fans who grew tired of Conte’s more pragmatic set-up.
Jorginho and N’Golo Kante will be an integral part of Sarri’s line-up and if the duo can strike up an understanding in midfield they are capable of driving Chelsea back into the top four.
A big year for Ross Barkley
Sarri has praised Barkley’s progress over the summer and believes he can compete for a starting role in midfield this season.
The 24-year-old made just two Premier League appearances after signing from Everton in January, having battled back from a serious hamstring injury.
If the playmaker can continue to impress Sarri he could even force his way back into the England squad.