5 Bold Predictions for Chelsea in 2017
With the end of 2016 just a few days away, Chelsea fans have a lot to be happy about. Of course, the first few months of the year were miserable as Chelsea drudged to a 10th place finish, but once the new season came by in August things turned around in a hurry. The Blues are guaranteed to start the New Year top of the table, and are looking every bit like they will stay there. With a New Year upon us there is a lot to look forward to, both on the pitch and off. With that being said, here are 5 bold predictions that I will make for 2017. Keep in mind that in all likelihood these predictions will probably not happen. But that does not change the fact that it is fun to speculate and try to peer into our crystal ball and predict the future of our favourite club:
Chelsea Will Win the Premier League Title at Least 15 points Ahead of the Runner Up
Watching this team on their current record win streak has led me to one conclusion: this team has no obvious weakness. From the goalkeeper, all the way up the pitch to the striker, Chelsea are an incredibly well balanced team. The same can’t be said for some of their closest competitors. Liverpool can’t seem to keep goals out of their net, Manchester City have had issues with injuries and suspensions, Spurs are not a legitimate threat at this point, and last year’s champions will be lucky if they avoid relegation. And since we’re approaching January we can obviously expect Arsenal to do Arsenal things again. Not to mention many of those teams have European competitions to deal with, while Chelsea do not. The last time a time won the league with at least 15 points more than the next closest competitor was 2000, when Manchester United finished 18 points ahead of Arsenal. The time is right for Conte’s men to be the next.
Kurt Zouma Will be Sold
Told you these would be bold.
The lovable Frenchman has worked incredibly hard to recuperate from a major injury, and has been fit enough to make the bench in recent matches. He still has not played in a game this year, and considering the play of loanees his future at the club can be questioned. Both Nathaniel Ake and Andreas Christensen have been exceptional on loan at Bournemouth and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively. With Conte also having reported interest in purchasing another center back soon (the likes of Niklas Sule, Virgil Van Dijk, and Kostas Manolas have been bandied about), there may be no room for Zouma. Even more so if Gary Cahill stays instead of leaving as some presume. It won’t be a popular move, but one that may happen nonetheless.
Eden Hazard Finishes Third in Ballon D’or Voting
There is a difference between a bold prediction and a ridiculous prediction. Saying Hazard were to win the Ballon D’or would fall into the latter category. Messi and Ronaldo have simply dominated this award between them for the best decade or so, and it looks like that will not change. Those two players are playing on a whole other level right now, and no player comes close. But I say that Hazard will have an amazing year and finish third in voting behind the two behemoths. It will not be easy. Premier League players have historically not fared very well in competition for this award, and Eden must stay consistent the entire year, something he has struggled with. However, he has arguably been the Premier League’s best player this year and is still young (he turns 26 on January 7th). An outstanding player entering the prime of his career playing on a championship team. Why not?
Tammy Abraham replaces Michy Batshuayi as Chelsea’s backup striker
For whatever reason, Batshuayi has struggled immensely to find playing time this year. Even with Costa suspended, Conte chose to play Hazard in a false 9 rather than give Michy the start. Whether that’s because of his fit in the system, his work in training, or some other reason we fans are not privy too, Michy has not had the playing time we thought he would and is shaping up to be an expensive benchwarmer. It may be better for both club and player to sell him or loan him somewhere he gets regular playing time, and his spot on the bench could be given to young Phenom Tammy Abraham. Abraham, who is currently on loan at Bristol City in the Championship, is tied for fourth in the league with 11 goals. It isn’t all about the quantity of goals he’s scoring either, many of them are highlight reel quality. His inexperience and lack of being a proven striker in the top flight will work against him. A club as big as Chelsea may want a more established name to spell Costa, but Tammy is a bright prospect with a great future ahead of him. His Premier League journey may very well start soon.
Frank Lampard Replaces Steve Holland as Assistant First-Team Coach
News broke last week that following the end of this season, Steve Holland will leave Chelsea and join Gareth Southgate and the England national team as their assistant coach. He will be missed at Stamford Bridge, where he has been a mainstay since 2009. It will be a tough loss to replace, but who better to replace him than arguably the best player in the club’s history? Lampard is nothing short of a legend, and one of the reasons that I myself became a Blues fan back in the day. His experience and leadership qualities demonstrated as a player could pave the way for him to follow a similar path to Ryan Giggs at Manchester United. However, Lampard has said he still wants to continue playing, and does have offers to play from other teams. If he indeed decides to hang up his boots and go into coaching, he won’t just be handed the job on a platter. He must prove he is capable and qualified enough for the job, a manager like Conte will demand nothing less. At this point it seems an ambassador role may be the more likely option, but seeing Lampard on the Chelsea touchline again would be true joy for Chelsea purists.