The place where matches are won and lost, the team with the strongest midfielder invariably wins the league. We proved that last season by signing the best in the league and going on to win at a canter. Gone are the dark days of Lampard and Mikel sitting as a two, shielding the defence with no aim in getting forward. We have specialists in this area now and with the arrival of Bakayoko, our first three sits at Ngolo Kante, Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko. This is without including the imminent exit of Nemanja Matic and the promos of Lewis Baker.
A coaches dream, always gives 100% to make up for what can be perceived as a lack of technical ability. There is no doubt he was a revelation last year, the switch to a back three giving him a new lease of life, able to showcase his incredible stamina and work ethic as he bombed the channels, ably supporting Pedro whilst helping out Azpi in defence. The European Cup brings with it a new challenge though, and an upgrade is needed. A fine Premier League level player he is, he may struggle when faced with players of world class ability on a consistent basis.
The jewel in our midfield, it’s almost as if the Dreamboat never played for Arsenal, such is his mutual affinity with the Chelsea fans. Cesc boasts incredible passing ability, vision and dead ball nous. He tweaked his game last year as, under Conte, he wasn’t getting the game time needed, with Conte fearing Cesc would be left open against the best teams. Cesc worked at his game and never faltered, being used in a more advanced position during the winter and finally getting more opportunities through the Spring. He showed a more dynamic side to his game, running and harrying the opposition, not quite at the same level as Kante, but the sea change was clear. This is a more advanced, all round Cesc Fabregas. A world class operator with a world class attitude, he has cast aside any fears he may move on by committing his future to both Chelsea and Conte.
A few words on the big Serb, with his imminent departure to be announced shortly. When signed back on January 14 after destroying us in the Europa League final of 2013, it came out of left field. A player we knew well as he spent his formative years stuck behind Ballack and Lampard, he had served his apprenticeship at Benfica well and upon return to the Bridge, was a world-class midfielder. In one of his first games, he made a title winning Yaya Toure look like a small child. He instantly changed our midfield, coupling style with strength and driving us to a title win in 2015. His left foot is fantastic but his attitude lately has been questioned. He actually fell out with Mourinho during Autumn 2015 and was famously substituted as a substitute against Southampton. Were we to get 40m+ for our fourth choice midfielder then that would be a wonderful piece of business, and would instantly shunt Baker to a more prominent role.
For us to sell our fourth choice midfielder to a title rival and have him instantly become their best shows the high-quality team we are building. We may not have the numbers just yet and we certainly need re reinforcements out wide but there is a sense that something is truly taking shape at Chelsea. Top performers all over the pitch and a lovely 3-0 win over Arsenal at the weekend makes this Chelsea fan a happy one indeed.
Our midfield count is growing. We still have Boga, Alonso, Bakayoko and Kante to cover!