Chelsea head into the 2018/19 season with renewed optimism after finally resolving the uncertainty over their managerial position.
Maurizio Sarri has taken over from compatriot Antonio Conte, and he has been tasked with improving Chelsea’s league position after the club finished outside the Premier League’s top four last term.
The former Napoli boss has a big task on his hands, with Chelsea needing to improve their squad after finishing 30 points adrift of champions Manchester City last season.
There are doubts over the futures of Eden Hazard, Willian, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Michy Batshuayi and Alvaro Morata, while Gary Cahill’s future may also lie away from the club.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expected to join Real Madrid this summer, leaving Sarri with plenty of work to do ahead of Chelsea’s opening league game at Huddersfield Town.
With a home clash with Arsenal the following week that should see cheap Chelsea tickets fly off the shelves, the Blues face a tough start to the campaign.
Resolving Hazard’s future is likely to be the new manager’s biggest priority. The Belgian playmaker has spoken about his desire to join Madrid, but whether they would shell out £150 million for the 27-year-old is debatable.
Sarri’s revolution has already begun, with Jorginho following his former boss from Napoli, but further reinforcements are expected.
Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain has been repeatedly linked with Chelsea, as has CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandr Golovin, who is also wanted by Monaco.
Defender Daniele Rugani looks likely to join the club from Juventus, but the Blues face big competition from Liverpool for Roma goalkeeper Alisson.
Whoever lines-up for Chelsea this season can expect a different style of play from the one employed under Conte.
Sarri’s Napoli side were committed to playing out from the back, with their pace in transition causing big problems for their opponents.
The 59-year-old remains without any major silverware during his coaching career, but he will have the resources at Stamford Bridge to change that over the next couple of years.
Sarri’s style of football should buy him time with Chelsea’s fans, something which will be needed as a title bid may be beyond them next term.
Despite finishing second to Juventus last season, he led Napoli to a record points total and his methods should improve Chelsea if he is given time to implement them properly.
The cup competitions may offer Sarri his best chance of success during his first year in charge, although the ultimate target next season has to be Champions League qualification.
Chelsea are priced at 8/11 to finish in the top four next season and that looks a solid wager.