Regular contributor Jamie Searle says that we must believe that we can improve on our fourth position and reach the later rounds of the Champions League next season.

Confident that the current squad can elevate to higher levels than last term, Jamie picks the squad that he believes should start against Liverpool on the opening day of the forth coming season.

Carlo Cudicini

In Carlo we have one of the best keepers in the world, and that’s no exaggeration. That fact that 3 of the best 5 goalkeepers in the world are Italian means he has been prevented from attaining several international caps. He’s solid, and in games will be the difference between 3 points as oppose to 1. 2 saves that stand out last season for me, was the one at White Hart Lane from the Redknapp free kick, and the save from Van N’s header at Old Trafford.

Mario Melchoit

Seems to be on of the players talked about with slight apprehension. His strength in the tackle and his attacking prowess are his strong points, and he can head a decent ball as well, but in my opinion I feel there is a slight question mark over his positioning, showing naivety at times. Though having said that, I feel it will be money wasted to splash put on a replacement for him, though a Steven Carr or Cafu would be preferable.

Celestine Babayaro

Another player to which a question mark hangs over. Last season was his least productive in a Chelsea shirt. and another one like it and surely he will be shown the door. On his day he’s a solid enough player, the fact that I would play Le Saux on the left of midfield, just in front of him, adds weight to why I would select Baba. I think them two on the left really work well together, and give the side a balance. Like Mario though, Baba could be improved upon.

William Gallas

Absolute quality player with his only draw back being the fact that he’s seems to be very opinionated, not to dissimilar to another French centre half we had at Chelsea. Young, quick, and very talented would best describe Gallas. I have yet to see a striker get the better of him in a Chelsea shirt, and considering the wealth of talented strikers in the Premiership that’s no mean feat. Hopefully he’ll get his contract sorted quickly, as will JT, so they can get on with being the best centre half pairing in the Premiership. Ranieri’s best signing to date, and one of English footballs shrewdest.

John Terry

The new Dennis Wise, in so much that he loves Chelsea, and would bleed blue if you cut him in half (though why you would want to, I’m not sure). Give him the armband and let him captain us for the next 10 years. One thing with JT is that he has actually improved year upon year since he broke into the side. If he keeps going in the same direction, we are going to have one very talented centre half on our hands. It’s a shame Desailly must sit out, especially after his performance in the last game last season, but we simply cannot risk losing JT or Gallas just to keep Desailly happy for one more year.

Manu Petit

I like him. On his day he’s quality, both his ball winning and distribution is world class when he’s on top of his game. Unfortunately injuries have hampered his Chelsea career and because of this he’s never really got 100% fit. This season he really must deliver the goods to prove the parts of the jury that are still out on him that they are wrong. His ability is undoubted, but his commitment questionable. I would always pick him, he is experienced and I think makes Lumpy a better player, allowing him to get forward more, though I can see why some of you wouldn’t.

Frank Lampard

Probably playing as well as he’s ever been. Was one of our best players last season. His performance against Leeds at home was superb, he seemed to drag to team to victory, like a Gerrard does for Liverpool or Keane does for Utd. We need more of them types of performance from him, and a few more goals. This is a big year for Frank, after last season he should have the confidence to really make an impression this campaign, and move up into that Gerrard, Scholes bracket in terms of importance to his side.

Jesper Gronkjaer

Last season probably finished at the wrong time for Jesper, just as he started to hit some form and have a run without injuries. Like Manu, this year he really has to deliver something concrete in terms of consistency, otherwise he may well need to be improved upon in the future. Simon Davies would be a ideal replacement if the Gronk continues to perform inconsistently. However, I would stick with him for now, his pace is a real weapon in the side, he also young and maybe he has finally settled in London and thus found his form.

Grahame Le Saux

This bloke just hates losing, and I love him for it. Over the past 2 seasons in particular Le Saux has been one of our most consistent performers, and I much prefer him on the left as oppose to Zenden. He crosses a nice ball and defensively is sound. The only thing against him is his age, and the fact that he covers so much ground in a game, means he may struggle to play 90 minutes on a regular basis. I think this will be the last good season we get out of Le Saux, so Zenden best start improving soon. But for now, it’s Le Saux for me.

Eidur Gudjohnson

In my opinion next season he should be classed as our main striker, and it should be a case of who plays with Eidur. I know last season he was poor on several occasions, but he was in and out the side like a yoyo, and because of this never really got any sharpness and fitness. I like his style, the way he drops off and links with the midfield, Particularly Lampard. He’s our future, and most clubs would snap him up in a instant of they thought he was available. I’d give him until October to prove he’s back to his old self, and if not then think about getting Forssell in.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Yep, I would go with the tried and trusted Jimmy and Eidur pairing on the basis that surely neither of them can be as bad as they were last season. Jimmy is a goalscorer, and I honestly don’t think you should not play your most prolific forward. His goal record earns him a place in the side at the start of next season. Fans must remember that he to suffered from injuries during pre-season was never really 100% fit, until it was to late and his confidence had gone. Like with Gudjohnson I would pick him, give him until October to prove he deserves his place, and if not, then get Cole in. Being aware of Cole might give him the incentive he needs.

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