Chelsea Club Focus – Blues set for major re-shuffling of the pack

The halfway mark of the season has been passed, and Chelsea’s challenge for the Premier League title is effectively over. Even the most optimistic Blues supporter would struggle to envisage a way that their side might overcome Manchester City and Manchester United at the Premier League summit, not to forget Tottenham Hotspur remain in with a shout of disrupting the Manchester domination of the season thus far.

The statistics don’t make good reading for the Blues with only the bottom five clubs having conceded more goals at home than themselves. It was only as recent as 2008 when a Xabi Alonso strike marked a Liverpool victory at Stamford Bridge which ended Chelsea’s unbeaten Premier League record on home soil that had lasted for over four and a half years. Whereas Stamford Bridge used to be fortress, this season Arsenal, Liverpool and Aston Villa have all claimed victories there and West London rivals Fulham came away with a point.

If there is any comfort that accompanies the sobering realisation of where their domestic season lies it is that things can only get better, as long as Andre Villas-Boas gets his way in January, that is. The Premier League’s youngest manager may be given a transfer war chest to try and improve a squad that is in dire need of refurbishment. Whilst defence is clearly the most apparent problem so far this season, the squad would be better off with significant additions in attack, something that Villas-Boas indeed knows.

With the impending arrival of Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill set to ease the central defensive pressure on John Terry and the sometimes hapless Brazilian David Luiz, the right side of defence still remains an issue for Villas-Boas. With Branislav Ivanovic injured, Jose Bosingwa is the team’s current right-back but he has failed to hit the heights of when he first joined the club under Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2008 following a long-term injury.

Chelsea have indentified possible recruitments to bolster the defence with Marseille’s full-back Cesar Azpilicueta emerging as Villas-Boas’ preferred choice for the role. The Spaniard is likely to command a significant fee as he only moved from Osasuna in 2010 for £8million. Azpilicueta is just one of many names to be linked with Chelsea ahead of the January transfer window as the club look likely to lose personnel with defender Alex free to leave, Nicolas Anelka having agreed a move to China, Dider Drogba’s future uncertain as well as Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda appearing to surplus to requirements.

Players reportedly to be interesting Chelsea include Ajax full-back Gregory van der Wiel, who may prefer a switch to Spanish giants Valencia, Genk’s Kevin de Bruyne and Porto pair Jorge Fucile and Alvaro Pereira, who previously worked under Villas-Boas. On a more ambitious scale the club have reportedly made an approach for Real Madrid front man Gonzalo Higuain as well teammate Kaka, and Napoli’s in-demand Edinson Cavani.

Owner Roman Abramovich’s wealth is well documented so finances are unlikely to be a problem in securing any transfer targets, which will be of comfort to Villas-Boas. The manager may take advantage of the resources potentially available to breathe new life into his ageing squad and restore pride in a domestic season that for many has already been written off.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Chelsea v Sunderland

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