COMMENT: Mourinho has work to do to fulfil parade promise and retain Chelsea’s Premier League crown

Jose Mourinho has already promised Chelsea fans there will be another jubilant open-top bus parade through West London next May, but there is work to be done to fulfil that pledge.

The ‘Special One’ delivered the Premier League trophy back to Stamford Bridge with games to spare last season, finishing eight clear of second-placed Manchester City.

They did that with one of the strongest squads in the league, but are going to have to bolster it even more if they are to fend off the likes of Arsenal, City and Manchester United.

The starting XI is undeniably strong, with the likes of Thibaut Courtois in goal and Eden Hazard, who won both the FWA Footballer of the Year and the PFA’s Players’ Player of the Year awards, pulling the strings up front.

But it is the bench that is becoming the problem for Mourinho and in particular his striking options. While Diego Costa has proved himself first choice, he is injury-prone so needs a back-up.

Veteran Didier Drogba has departed and Loic Remy has spent his fair share of time on the treatment table.

It seems remarkable that Mourinho is setting his sights on out-of-form striker Radamel Falcao to solve this problem. It would perhaps be wiser for Chelsea to search for a younger more durable fox-in-the-box.

For instance, Inter Milan’s 22-year-old Argentine Mauro Icardi, or, dare I say it, ex-Chelsea player Romelu Lukaku, who many had earmarked to be Drogba’s successor.

At the back, Chelsea’s defence was impressive, amassing 17 clean sheets in the league with three out of their back four – John Terry, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic – making it into the PFA’s Team of the Year.

But again if you look past the starting four, it’s clear another central defender is needed. Terry turns 35 in December and Cahill is not the most mobile.

There is of course 20-year-old Frenchman Kurt Zouma who looks talented, but unless Chelsea buy another centre-back it would seem a lot will rest on his young shoulders.

In the midfield, Chelsea are pretty solid but they may be on the look-out for replacements for Mikel and Ramires as they find their chances limited.

Nemanja Matic was spectacular at stamping out trouble as the holding midfielder, Cesc Fabregas was superb at the start of the season, and Willian, Oscar and Hazard all provided blistering pace to terrorise defenders.

The squad is one issue facing Chelsea this season, but if they are to retain the title, there are two other big factors: How the other teams fair in the transfer market and whether they will be able to grind out wins like they did last season.

Eleven out of their 26 wins last season were by a single goal. Their ability to win when not playing well is what defined them as champions.

But that ability was aided by the Premier League being their primary focus for the second half of the season – they were booted out of the FA Cup in the fourth round by Bradford and dispatched by Paris St Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

If they decide to chase other tournaments as zealously as they went after the Premier League, you could see fatigue playing a role in their squad and that’s when that bench will come into play.

As far as the transfer market goes, Arsenal are likely to be on the lookout for another big name signing like Alexis Sanchez and if they manage that, they will once more be a threat.

Similarly, Louis Van Gaal is never shy to open his wallet and it would appear Manchester United will be looking to add to their £25m signing of Memphis Depay, while Manchester City are chasing Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Juventus’ Paul Pogba.

But it’s the Blues who are still favourites for next year’s title and if they can boost their bench and maintain their ethos of being consistent and efficient, then they are going to take some stopping.

Feature image courtesy of Chelsea TV, via Youtube, with thanks

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