The second edition of the 2013-14 Opposition View comes from Chelsea supporter Nour Esseddine, who spoke to us on behalf of Talk Chelsea.
With Jose returning to the fold, what is the realistic aim this season?
Obviously with Jose’s emotional return expectations in our camp are sky-high. It’s been a while since we last won the league and haven’t really challenged the past couple of years, so all the Chelsea fans will have their eyes set on that Premier League title. Realistically, I think we’ll probably finish behind City as their squad is better but hopefully we can push them all the way. A good run in the Champions League is also financially vital, especially given our early exit last season.
Are you happy with this summer’s transfer business? Who should we look out for?
This is probably an unpopular opinion among Chelsea fans but I’m very happy with the business the club has done in the transfer window. The priority was to enhance squad depth, especially in midfield, and we have done that. But most of all I’m glad that we did not spend crazy money on the likes of Cavani and Falcao and decided to give our young players who were on loan last season a chance instead.
Mata was obviously our best player last season but I honestly believe that this season will be Hazard’s season. He has what it takes to be the best in the league and hopefully he can fulfill his potential this season.
You have been heavily linked with a move for Wayne Rooney this summer. What do you think he could bring to the Chelsea setup?
Rooney is a world-class striker, which is something we’re lacking at the moment, but he’s also very versatile and can cover all over the front four positions. Most importantly, he gives us the option of playing with two strikers up front because he is perfect for that second striker role. He can link up with with our attacking midfielders and his work-rate is exceptional. So, I’m definitely hoping we land Wayne.
John Terry only played a bit part last season. Do you think his days are numbered or will he be back to his very best this season?
John was very unfortunate with injuries last season but he’ll definitely get a lot of playing time under Jose if he can stay injury free this season. In fact, I reckon a partnership of JT and Luiz is our best choice for centre back at the moment. Back to his best is probably too much to ask of someone who practically played his whole career through injuries while putting his body on the line week in week out, but he’ll definitely have a role to play this season and he’ll get a contract extension at the end of the season as well, in my opinion.
Villa and Chelsea are both well known for having decent youth setups but we don’t tend to see too many young blues break into the first team. Do you think anyone will make the step up this season?
Well, obviously at Chelsea the need for immediate results will always get in the way of youth integration into the first team. The lack of managerial stability has also played its part. But I do believe that, recently, there has been a positive change in the youth academy in the past few years which has produced players who could be part of our future Chelsea teams with some decent loans – players like Nathanial Chalobah, who impressed in the Championship last season, Nathan Ake, who played a role with us last season, the highly-rated Roben Loftus Cheek, Lucas Piazon and Islam Feruz.
Do you have any weaknesses you feel that Villa could exploit?
Our main weakness last season was the distances between our lines which meant that our pivot was often isolated and outnumbered in midfield and we had real trouble in ball transition from defense to offense. If you could press in the middle of the park and stop the ball reaching our front four you could cause us a lot of trouble.
What is your opinion of Aston Villa and their supporters?
I really liked Villa under O’Neill but I think you guys have struggled since his departure. I really like your youth team as well. I don’t have much experience with Villa fans to really have an opinion.
If you could sign any one Aston Villa player, who would it be and why?
I would have said Guzan had we not signed Schwarzer as he’d make an excellent back up for Cech. I’d do a Benteke-Torres swap if you’re up for it?
What are your predictions for both clubs this season?
Like I said, I predict that Chelsea will be very much involved in the title race, at least I hope so. I think Villa can stay away from the drop if they can keep key men fit, especially Benteke.
Finally, your predictions for the game?
Got to go with a Chelsea win. I’d say 2-0.