A summer of change has had the desired effect at Stamford Bridge, certainly in the short-term, with Chelsea matching the early strides of pre-season favourites Manchester City and Liverpool.
Maurizio Sarri arrived in English football with a fearsome reputation, having led Napoli to second in Serie A, pushing eventual champions Juventus hard down the home straight, and he has already made a difference in the ranks of his new employers.
The 59-year-old recognised the talent that was already available to him, resisting the urge to splash the cash on wide-spread changes, and the squad have responded, winning seven and drawing three of their first 10.
With the stage set for a thrilling season it could be right for Chelsea fans to back their side with hard cash. Placing a timely bet on one of the leading UK bookmakers will currently result in you receiving 12/1 from Coral.
At this stage of the campaign, and judging Chelsea on what we have seen so far, that looks value. If preferring to put your trust in one of the current joint-leaders you’ll find Man City priced 2/5 favourites, against the 11/4 of Liverpool – both available at Ladbrokes.
Chelsea finished fifth last season, missing out on the riches of the Champions League, and it’s great for English football as a whole to have the six-time champions back firing on all cylinders. No one can deny they have been impressive thus far but what must they do to go anywhere close to recapturing the title-winning form of 2017/18?
With the January transfer window fast-approaching they will surely be seeking out a new striker, easing the pressure on goal-scoring midfielder Eden Hazard. The Belgian notched eight goals in 10 games, assisting another three, but it wouldn’t be wise to rely too heavily on one man to fire them towards silverware.
The strikers must start chipping in with goals but, at last count, Alvaro Morata had four and Olivier Giroud has been mis-firing for both club and country and looks to be on borrowed time.
Could the answer to their lightweight attack be sitting under Sarri’s nose? 22-year-old local lad Ruben Loftus-Cheek is enjoying a breakthrough season and has already helped himself to four goals, making him Chelsea’s second highest scorer.
Farming Loftus-Cheek out to gain regular, first-team football at a high standard while spending money on a proven scorer is another option. The footballing gossip columns have linked Chelsea with a move for Ousmane Dembele, the young French assassin currently on the books of Barcelona.
Moving attentions to the middle of the park and the £50m forked out for Brazilian midfielder Jorginho is already proving to be money well spent with the 26-year-old proving to be the club’s biggest summer addition.
The former Napoli employee, who arrived on the same day as Sarri, has shown himself to be as skilled at keeping opponents at bay as he is in getting up the park and scoring goals, netting against Huddersfield in a 3-0 away win back in August.
With Sarri setting-up in a 4-3-3 formation, placing the emphasis on attack, where does that leave another of the club’s talented middle men? Will he have to fit Kante in another position?
It certainly appears that way and abandoning the defensive midfielder role he seemed to relish under Conte, N’Golo has been asked for a lot more energy, flitting from box-to-box when needed. The 27-year-old has coped with it so far but if Chelsea are to challenge City they’ll need their number seven to be amongst the most consistent men in the division.