Well its that time of the year again; the start of a new EPL season. So I figure its time for a new thread. I'm gonna do a preview of the EPL but not all the teams. I'll do the big 5, plus Newcastle since Damien C is a big fan.

We'll do them in order of finish, so.......

Chelsea

In

-Michael Ballack
-Andriy Shevchenko
-John Obi Mikel
-Saloman Kalou
-Ashley Cole?

Out
-Hernan Crespo
-Damien Duff
-Eidur Gudjohnsen
-Asier Del Horno
-William Gallas?

Strengths


There's an old adage in baseball that says to win you have to be strong up the middle. Well the same is true of Chelsea, and up the middle they are very strong indeed. It all starts with their captain John Terry. Arguably the best CB in the EPL, Terry has been the emotional leader of the Chelsea machine. With Terry in the heart of the Chelsea defense its is very tough to score. Especially when he's backed by Peter Cech. The one knock on Terry is he doesn't have much pace, but that's solved when he's paired up with Gallas in the middle. Those 2 are probably the most formidable partership in the EPL. The big thing though, is Gallas seems to want out, while Ricardo Carvallho is a good CB in his own right, he's a clear downgrade from Gallas. In addition Carvallho isn't very fast so quick, fast forwards can get the better of those 2.

Chelsea play a central midfield of 3. Makalele in a holding role, Lampard going box to box, and last year usually Gudjohnsen in a free role. Essien can play in the Makalele role but I see him more as a Lampard style player. With the decline of Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard is the best shooting midfielder for me. He had his troubles in the World Cup, but he has a tremendous shot and has hit double digit goals(great for a mid) the past few seasons. He's also a great passer in his own right. And they've upgraded from Gudjohnsen to Ballack in the attacking mid role. Ballack for me is the world's best midfielder and adding his passing, vision, heading, and shooting will only help Chelsea. Some have made the argument that Chelsea have too many stars. That there's too many chiefs and not enough indians. One thing to keep in mind, Ballack is German, when was the last time you heard of a German rocking the boat. These guys are all about the team and never cause any chemistry problems to speak off. Mourhino is a great coach and I'm pretty confident he'll make it work. JM demands that everyone on the field play defense, and Ballack is more than capable of doing that.

Up front the addition of Sheva(for my money the best striker in the game) is a big boost to the Chelsea attack. Drogba is what he is, a big physical CF who'll attack crosses with reckless abandon and while he's good in the air, I wouldn't really call him "clinical". Sheva has it all though, good pace, good smarts, decent in the air, great shot, and a good passer. I think he'll do very well in England especially since he's surrounded by a ton of talent. Included in that talent are 2 of the best wingers if not the best in the EPL. Joe Cole on the left, and Arjen Robben on the right. A big part of Chelsea's attack are their wingers, cutting inside and shooting at goal(rather than the traditional role, hugging the touchline and sending in crosses). Robben, is a fantastic finisher and has plenty of speed and trickery in his game to get past defenders. His off the ball play is good and he also crosses the ball extremly well. Cole, is also a good finisher, while not as fast as Robben I think he's got a few more tricks up his sleeve. A lot of credit has to go to JM into making Cole an effective player. Early in his career he was a bit of a one trick pony that never played cause he didn't bring much to the table. Mourhinho has made him into a far better player.

Weaknesses

There's not too many chinks in Chelsea's armor. One are that they are vunerable in is fullback. Until they sign, Ashley Cole(seemingly a done deal), Chelsea is very thin at LB. I think Wayne Bridge is a good player, but I think injuries have taken some of his pace away and he's still very attack minded. The lack of pace though gets up caught up the field and Chelsea can be caught on the counter. I don't think Ferreira is all that great. He's dependable but the best wingers will get the better of him. Mourinho has played Geremi in that RB spot but that's really just a stop gap. Depth up front is a bit of a problem for mighty Chelsea. Joe Cole is hurt already and the sale of Duff leaves them thin on wingers. Robben is also fairly injury prone so there is some concern. Kalou had a fantastic season for Feyenoord(Van Basten wanted to naturalize him as citizen so he could play for the Oranje) but there's always gonna be a transition period from the Dutch league to one of the big 3. Plus Shaun Wright-Phillips has been a huge disappointment. Chelsea could regret selling Duff, a move that was didn't really need to be made.

Possible Formations

Mourinho's money formation has always been the 4-3-3/4-5-1. He's been on record in saying that he wants to play more attacking football and will feature a 4-4-2 from time to time. I think he'll attempt to do this, but in big games and in the Champion's League, Mourinho will revert back to the formation that's gotten him to the top.

4-3-3

--------------------------------Sheva-----------------------------------

----J. Cole------------------------------------------Robben------

-----------------------------Ballack----------------------------------

------------------------------Lampard-------------------------------------

---------------------------------Makalele------------------------------

----Bridge/Cole?-------Gallas?/Carvallho-----Terry-------Ferreira

-----------------------------Cech---------------------------------------

4-4-2

-----------------------Drogba-----------------------------------
---------------------------------Sheva---------------------------

--------Cole-------Lampard-------Ballack-----------------Robben--

----Bride/Cole?---------Gallas/Carvallho---------Terry-----Ferreira


United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, and Newcastle to be up soon.