There haven't been too many changes to the Chelsea squad this summer, as manager Jose Mourinho has no need to fix anything that isn't broken after their successful 2014-15 Premier League campaign. But the Blues still fell short in the Champions League and have been looking for ways to improve the squad and plan for the future, with these additions set to provide more options for what is already a winning formula.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Chelsea fans are hoping to see the same name between the sticks for the next decade after Thibaut Courtois had a great first season in England. The big Belgian established himself as first choice last campaign and Cech’s departure was another sure sign that he is expected to retain his place, with new signing Asmir Begovic on the bench as back-up.
Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic
At right-back, Branislav Ivanovic is firmly established as an automatic starter. The big Serbian has dominated in that position for a good few years now, and at 31 there is no immediate need for a replacement, so expect him to continue as a dependable presence on the right side of defence.
Left-Back: Cesar Azpilicueta
Chelsea’s other favoured full-back, Cesar Azpilicueta, was shifted into the left-back position to accommodate for Ivanovic’s incumbency, despite being a right-footed player. But the Spaniard managed that task with aplomb and will be confident of keeping his place, especially as it seems increasingly unlikely that Filipe Luis will stick around for a second season. Meanwhile, youngsters Nathan Ake and Todd Kane are unlikely to displace any first-team stars and will probably remain as bit-part players.
Centre-backs: John Terry and Gary Cahill
Centre-back is another area where little change is needed. John Terry and Gary Cahill formed a solid partnership, losing just three games all season while conceding just 32 goals, and Mourinho will want to keep cultivating trust and understanding between the two English centre-halves by keeping them as his preferred pairing.
However, French youngster Kurt Zouma is expected to get more game time and should fill in for either Cahill or Terry on a regular basis, even if he doesn’t manage to displace either of them just yet. Should John Stones arrive from Everton, expect the England international to put considerably more pressure on the chosen pairing.
Central Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic
The combination of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic worked well for the Blues last season, making them first-choice starters. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is expecting more game time and could either fill in for one of the two or make it a three-man midfield. Ramires is also still around and should have some part to play, while Oscar could be used in a deeper role, but the Fabregas-Matic core looks like it’s here to stay.
Attacking Midfielders: Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian
There are plenty of options available in this part of the team, making the line-up less certain than other positions. Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian were often favoured last term, but the number of alternatives at hand could see that change.
Hazard is assured of his place, but a change in formation could see either Willian or Oscar get less game time, despite Mourinho seeming to be quite happy with both Brazilians.
Uncertainty abounds when it comes to the roles of Chelsea’s other wingers. Mohamed Salah, Victor Moses and Juan Cuadrado all may or may not have a future at the Bridge. Mourinho could stick with one or two of them or get rid of them all, while it is still possible that another attacker could be signed. It will be interesting to see if any of the aforementioned wingers can force their way into the starting eleven, but they will probably have to settle for the bench.
Striker: Diego Costa
Diego Costa’s super debut season in the Premier League, including 20 goals in 26 appearances, will make him the first choice on August 8th, with the signing of Radamel Falcao from Monaco meant to provide competition and quality back-up for Costa.
While the chance of seeing both up front remains a possibility, it will most likely be one or the other, and Falcao will have to put in some great performances to be preferred to the Spain international.
While Mourinho will be happy for both to deserve a start, expect Costa to remain as first-choice with Falcao being given the occasional chance to shine and hope to take his chance should Costa’s injuries flare up again.
Finally, the Blues are in need of a third choice striker, but it remains uncertain who that will be. Loic Remy was a capable back-up last season but could be on his way out of the club, while academy product Patrick Bamford has once again gone out on loan. Mourinho could well still dip into the transfer market to fill the position.