Five years and eleven months later, Jose Mourinho will return to his spiritual home, Stamford Bridge. The ‘happy one’ will be up against, newly promoted and newly named, Hull City Tigers. As the liquidator sounds out in SW6 42 000 fans will rise, as one, to welcome home ‘one of our own’. Not since 1815, when Wellington returned from the battle of Waterloo, has a homecoming been more anticipated than this one. Jose you are, and always will be, one of us!
Chelsea’s well travelled and rejuvenated squad have had a very challenging and lucrative pre-season. Six victories and a single defeat bode well for the new season. The ‘signings’ of Marco van Ginkel, Andre Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne have revitalised the squad, added strength in depth and given Mourinho plenty of attacking options. Defensive stability will come from the fullbacks not pushing forward so much and a choice of Essien, Van Ginkel or Mikel protecting the centre halves. The options are exciting, but it may take a few games for Mourinho to discover his best starting XI.
Our opponents, Hull City Tigers, managed by Steve Bruce have had a mixed pre season, at best. The newly promoted side had only scored 3 in 6 friendlies prior to a more impressive 3-0 victory over Real Betis, last time out. Bruce fine tuned a new 4-3-3 formation with Graham, Aluku and Sagbo leading the attack, whilst the two Robbie’s, Koren and Brady controlled the middle of the park. I think this 4-3-3 will quickly become 4-5-1 when defending. Brady looks a prospect and is dangerous from dead ball situations.
It is anyone’s guess who will start for Chelsea. The treatment room is empty; however match fitness may play a part in selection. My preference would be Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry and Cole behind a midfield trio of Ramires, van Ginkel and Essien with Hazard, Mata and Lukaku leading the line. Then again, what about Lampard, Oscar, Moses, Torres, Ba, Cahil, Azpilicuerta, De Buyne and Mikel? The combinations are endless but I trust Jose will get it right from day one. Six points from the first two home games are vital; this would mean us travelling to Old Trafford with the possibility of going six points clear of Man Utd, after 3 games!
This is going to be one hell of a season. All matches will be sold-out. For the first time in a few years Chelsea are genuine title contenders. If a certain Mr Rooney decides to move south, then put a few of your hard earned on the title coming with him!