It’s hard to ask for an easier way to begin the season for a team like Chelsea, aspiring to claim back the Premier League title for the first time in four years, than receiving newly promoted Hull City, even if the Tigers have made it difficult for the Europa League champions in the past.
The person who’ll get more attention than anyone will be Jose Mourinho. Some charismatic and interesting his persona is that he manages to take center stage as a manager despite the long list of stars on his team. It’s his return to the Premier League and to Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, after being sacked by Roman Abramovich at the beginning of his fourth season with the team in 2007.
There weren’t too many changes made by Chelsea to their squad during the summer. Additions of Andre Schurrle, who is likely to be a bigger hit than Marko Marin ever was, and Marco van Ginkel are noticeable, but maybe the return from loans for Romelu Lukaku, looking like the favorite to take up the starting striker spot, and Kevin de Bruyne, having to fight through a very loaded and crowded attacking midfield, are the actual big additions this offseason.
For Hull City, who have spent three seasons away from the Premier League, it was a busier summer. They signed 10 different players, including Tom Huddlestone from Tottenham as they added players in pretty much every position on the pitch, hoping to have a decent enough squad for Steve Bruce to play with and achieve Premiership survival. On their previous promotion season, they managed to put on a very strong start, which included getting a draw at Stamford Bridge.
But the story, despite the sympathetic Hull City, will be Chelsea. How many minutes will Fernando Torres get, if any, as Chelsea have a full squad for Mourinho to use? Not much would be a safe bet, but the important players will be Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar, if he actually plays all three of them. The first indication of what Mourinho is planning to do in terms of bulking up the midfield, and he couldn’t have asked for a better opponent to try it out against.
Prediction – While opening matches have a tendency to go in surprising directions, the incredible difference in quality between the sides is too hard to ignore, and Chelsea, even if they won’t be playing too well at this point, should have no problem finding at least one playmaker to make the difference.