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Chelsea 2021-22 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to Chelsea's 2021-22 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.

Gearing up for their first full season under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea will hope to see their successes on the European stage translate into a title challenge for the 2021-22 Premier League season.

The capital outfit head into the new season still revelling in their Champions League triumph and relishing the prospect of a first full season under former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain coach Tuchel, who took no time at all to win over the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Chelsea's Tammy Abraham celebrates scoring their second goal on August 1, 2021© Reuters

A busy summer of spending is yet to materialise for Chelsea, but a number of big-name targets such as Romelu Lukaku and Jules Kounde could be donning the blue shirt next season as transfer business intensifies, with Tuchel desperate to end the club's five-year wait for another Premier League title.

Here, Sports Mole provides an in-depth preview of Chelsea's 2021-22 season and how we think the campaign may pan out for the European champions.


FIXTURES

Chelsea welcome Patrick Vieira's new-look Crystal Palace side to Stamford Bridge during the opening weekend of the season, but Tuchel's side then face a run of five challenging games against Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

Once that daunting run is out of the way, Chelsea's next blockbuster ties come at the end of November - Leicester away on the 20th before Manchester United at home on the 27th - and their first three fixtures of the New Year are against Liverpool, Man City and Spurs.

Following the visit of Arsenal on February 12, Chelsea do not face another 'Big Six' side until the final day of the season, as their campaign ends at Old Trafford against Man United on May 15.

> Click here to see all of Chelsea's 2021-22 fixtures


SUMMER SIGNINGS

Marcus Bettinelli in action for Middlesbrough in April 2021© Reuters

In
Marcus Bettinelli (free, Fulham)

Out
Marco van Ginkel (released)
Victor Moses (£4.5m, Spartak Moscow)
Fikayo Tomori (£26.3m, AC Milan)
Izzy Brown (free, Preston North End)
Nathan Baxter (loan, Hull City)
Levi Colwill (loan, Huddersfield Town)
Willy Caballero (released)
Danilo Pantic (free, Partizan Belgrade)
Jamal Blackman (released)
Billy Gilmour (loan, Norwich City)
Luke McCormick (undisclosed, AFC Wimbledon)
Juan Familia-Castillo (loan, Birmingham City)
Olivier Giroud (£900,000, AC Milan)
Marc Guehi (£21m, Crystal Palace)
Myles Peart-Harris (free, Brentford)
Jamie Cumming (loan, Gillingham)
Henry Lawrence (loan, AFC Wimbledon)
Jack Wakely (free, Wycombe Wanderers)
Conor Gallagher (loan, Crystal Palace)
Ian Maatsen (loan, Coventry City)
Valentino Livramento (£5.3m, Southampton)

Total spent to date: £0m
Total received to date: £58m

Net transfer balance: £58m


SQUAD

Antonio Rudiger celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Leicester City in the Premier League on May 18, 2021© Reuters

Goalkeepers: Edouard Mendy, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Marcus Bettinelli

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta, Reece James, Davide Zappacosta, Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Ethan Ampadu, Malang Sarr, Matt Miazga, Jake Clarke-Salter, Ben Chilwell, Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Abdul Rahman Baba

Midfielders: N'Golo Kante, Jorginho, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount, Ross Barkley, Lewis Baker, Danny Drinkwater

Forwards: Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi, Kenedy, Charly Musonda Jr, Callum Hudson-Odoi

> Click here for full details of Chelsea's 2021-22 squad


STRONGEST XI

CHE STRONGEST XI


STAR PLAYER - MASON MOUNT

Mason Mount in action for Chelsea in March 2021© Reuters

While big-money moves for Kai Havertz and Timo Werner arguably did not bear fruit for the majority of the campaign, Mason Mount proved his worth to both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel to become a staple of the Blues' squad at just 22 years of age.

After gleaning experience working under Lampard's wing at Derby County, the effervescent playmaker immediately sought to follow in the footsteps of the Chelsea legend and found himself racking up goals and assists at a consistent rate in the disrupted 2019-20 season.

Playing a staggering 54 games in all competitions last season, Mount claimed nine goals and nine assists - an average of one contribution every three games - including crucial strikes against Liverpool in the Premier League and against Real Madrid and Porto en route to the Champions League final, during which he assisted Havertz's winner.

Mount was largely unable to translate his stellar club form into an eye-catching Euro 2020 campaign - claiming just one assist from five Three Lions outings - but Chelsea's 2020-21 Player of the Year could hardly have envisaged a more explosive start to his fledgling career.


MANAGER - THOMAS TUCHEL

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel celebrates with the Champions League trophy on May 29, 2021© Reuters

Having taken no time at all to endear himself to the Chelsea faithful, Tuchel has already proven that he has the credentials to take control of the reins for the long term - a rare sight indeed during the Roman Abramovich era.

Following his acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain and subsequent appointment in the English capital, Tuchel shored up Chelsea's defence, secured a top-four finish and conquered Europe - a sure-fire way of appeasing the Blues' trigger-happy hierarchy.

The 47-year-old - who learned his trade during spells at Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund - was rewarded for his 2020-21 endeavours with a new deal until the summer of 2024, during which time he will undoubtedly be tasked with leading Chelsea to another Premier League title.

Twenty of Tuchel's 31 games in charge of the Blues so far have ended in victory, and while the FA Cup final defeat to Leicester may have represented a minor blot on his notebook, the charismatic coach is already an integral part of the Stamford Bridge family ahead of his first full season in charge.


LAST SEASON - 4th

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante lifts the Champions League trophy on May 29, 2021© Reuters

Suffering only one defeat from their first 11 Premier League games of the season - winning six of them - Chelsea quickly rose into early contention for top spot in the table over the Christmas period, but back-to-back defeats to Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers would kill Lampard's momentum.

Further defeats to Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City saw Lampard relieved of his duties after claiming just one win from his final five Premier League games, and Tuchel took over at the halfway point when Chelsea were languishing in ninth place in the division.

Moving quickly to deploy a highly effective 3-4-3, Tuchel embarked on a 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and witnessed his side concede a mere two goals in that time, but that was until West Bromwich Albion paid a visit to Stamford Bridge and simply tore the Blues to shreds.

Chelsea had risen back into top-four contention by this point, though, and despite ending the league season with defeats to Arsenal and Aston Villa either side of a slender win over Leicester City, Tuchel's side secured the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot.

The Blues' league standing paled into insignificance somewhat, though, as Tuchel oversaw a 1-0 victory over favourites Manchester City in the Champions League final two weeks after Chelsea came up short in the FA Cup final for the second year running.


PREDICTION

The fact that Chelsea are yet to make any significant improvements to their squad may lead to some alarm bells ringing, but Roman Abramovich and Marina Granovskaia have another three weeks to conduct their transfer business, and big-name additions are usually a given during the Blues' summer windows.

For all of their defensive solidity and free-flowing attacking under Tuchel last term, Chelsea are far from invincible, and any hopes of a shot at Premier League glory may not come to fruition just yet.

Chelsea also have a Champions League crown to defend and may elect to prioritise unprecedented back-to-back triumphs in Europe, so we are tipping the Blues to claim fourth behind Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United.

VERDICT: 4th


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General view of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge taken April 2018
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