TEAMtalk's James Marshment says Chelsea can be major title challengers this term under a change of formation and an exciting recruitment drive.
When he was appointed Chelsea boss 12 months ago, one of Andre Villas-Boas' main briefs was to oversee the phasing out of the club's old guard.
For a good three seasons prior, it had been widely documented that the Blues had an 'ageing squad' and would need to spend big to maintain their place amongst Europe's elite.
While the AVB project fell foul in pretty specutacular style, I still think the Portuguese tactician can count himself unlucky given that his major faux pas was probably trying to change too much too soon.
Tottenham seem a far better fit for Villas-Boas and I'm sure his time to shine in this country will still come.
His intentions at Chelsea were on the right track, and you only have to look at the present-day squad - and the way in which Chelsea are investing this summer - to realise that he simply wasn't cute enough in his handling of the Blues' senior pros.
But rather than reflect on AVB's failings, the Champions League holders are very much on a high and will head into the currect campaign probably as buoyant as they've been since the Jose Mourinho era.
Their triumph in Munich - so expertly masterminded by Roberto Di Matteo - certainly plays its part in that, but it is the playing staff that the Blues are assembling that should ensure the good times continue at Stamford Bridge.
Rather than be the instigator of change, Di Matteo is merely continuing the project that was started last summer by his predecessor.
But the key to any successful transition is the way in which staff are handled or, in footballing-terms, man-management, and that is very much an area in which Di Matteo is clearly better than Villas-Boas.
With Didier Drogba now packed off to the Far East - his reputation forever cast in Blues legend thanks to their fairytale Champions League triumph - Di Matteo will probably next have to turn his attention to Frank Lampard, and his likely phasing out of his first-team line-up.
Strangely criticised over the years, Lampard will be remembered as one of the finest goalscoring midfielders to grace the Premier League. As such, he deserves to be treated with the respect that Di Matteo will no doubt afford him.
But Lampard's role at Stamford Bridge is likely to become even more periphery this season and I do struggle to see where he will fit into the system I expect Chelsea to play. As such, he may have to adapt his game to a holding midfield role, accept his place as a 'super sub' or (more likely) move on to pastures new, where like Drogba, he can walk away from the club with his status as a club legend still very much intact.
To date, the Blues have only actually acquired Marko Marin from Werder Bremen and (headline-writers' dream) Eden Hazard from Lille. Both fit into the attacking midfielder-cum winger mould, and I think their arrivals - together with the possible capture of Brazil midfielder Oscar from Internacional - will see Chelsea change tactics to a more modern, more slick-looking 4-2-3-1 formation.
The imminent arrival of Oscar particularly excites me. Described as one of the best young talents in Brazil, the six-times capped playmaker has all the attributes needed to become one of the next generation of world greats.
Aged just 20, he together with 23-year-old Marin and Eden Hazard (21) should form the nucleus of another period of domination in SW6.
And you only have to look at January's signing of Gary Cahill (26), together with the emergence of Ryan Bertrand (22) to see that the long-term replacements for John Terry and Ashley Cole have already been taken care of.
The long-serving Petr Cech may well be heading into his last season as Chelsea's regular first choice, and I expect Thibaut Courtois (about to embark on his second season on loan with Atletico Madrid) to challenge for the gloves come the 2013/14 campaign.
So all in all, Chelsea have most of their key positions covered for a good number of years.
An ageing squad no more, this Chelsea team (providing they gel quickly under Di Matteo's stewardship) are in my eyes the far more likely challengers to Manchester City's Premier League crown than Fergie's men in red.
They probably may need to sign a more dynamic right-back than current incumbent Branislav Ivanovic to really get the best out of the new formation and I'm genuinely surprised they aren't trying to hijack Newcastle's bid to sign Hazard's former team-mate Mathieu Debuchy.
Long term, they also could probably do with another holding midfielder, but with Michael Essien seemingly on his way back to full fitness, they can probably put that plan on hold for another 12 months at least.
At the top of the formation, I expect the much-derided Fernando Torres to start the season as first choice and I think we may well see a much-improved campaign from the Spaniard, who should revel playing in a formation he will know so well from his time with his all-conquering national squad.
Whether the Blues push through with plans to sign either Uruguayan powerhouse Edinson Cavani or Brazilian force Hulk remains to be seen, and either of them would fit perfectly into the system. It simply may come down to which of the pricely pair is more obtainable. Either way, Torres, Hulk or Cavani - I can foresee any one of them getting right amongst the goals this season.
With that in mind, this is how I can see Chelsea lining up next season:
Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien; Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres (4-2-3-1).
Use the story comment box, below, to have your say about either the Blues' title challenge or their potential new-look formation.
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