After the nightmare for Chelsea that was 2023, I believe that the new year will be a turning point for Mauricio Pochettino's blues. To state that Chelsea struggled last year would be an immense understatement. Going through four different managers in the dugout over the space of one calendar year, chaos has been the only consistency in Todd Boehly's consortium. However, Chelsea fans can look towards the new year with excitement as the club has the potential to boom but it just needs to see that potential unlocked.
To expand on the point regarding Chelsea's potential, the current crop of players share a high ceiling with the only downside being that they are still in their development phases. Our forwards for example have proven to be more effective this season than the previous season, already scoring more goals (51) in 28 games this season than the goals scored throughout the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign (50) [OptaJoe, https://x.com/OptaJoe/status/1750089900236427555?s=20].
This improvement can be attributed to the trust that Pochettino has placed in his young forwards. Cole Palmer, in particular, has been a revelation for Chelsea in the second half of 2023. Signed from last season's treble winners, Manchester City, Palmer has quickly shut down any of his doubters, becoming Chelsea's main man at twenty-one years old. Gaining twenty goal contributions in twenty-seven appearances, Palmer's attacking influence has been something that Chelsea has severely missed out on in the past few seasons.
Besides Palmer, the Blues have seen the quality of many of their young players, although their age and inexperience have caused inconsistent performances that will frustrate the fans and themselves. Mudryk and Madueke have at times this season portrayed their attacking talents and shown glimpses of the world-class players that they can become. At the same time, they have also put in performances leaving little to be desired, fading out of a game without making much of an influence on it. With the right coaching, however, these players can gain consistency and make Chelsea's attack a force to be reckoned with.
Another significant factor for Chelsea's potential success this year has been their resurgence in home form. In the past few seasons, a factor in the Blue's disappointment in the league can be attributed to their underwhelming home form, winning only six games at Stamford Bridge in the premier league last season. As of writing this, Chelsea have been unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in their last ten games. Possibly a sign that Chelsea is slowly returning to the days of old when Stamford Bridge was a fortress that teams would be cautious going to.
Injuries have been one of Chelsea's biggest consistent problems since Boehly's consortium came in. For a squad the size of Chelsea's you would imagine that injuries would not become much of an issue however, Chelsea have been incredibly unlucky with the availability of their players. The most notorious victim of injuries at Chelsea has been Reece James. Currently, out with a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out for another couple of months, the Blue's Captain has been riddled with injury problems that continuously interrupt his development. Since the start of 2022, James has missed seventy-two games because of injury, with the player finally getting surgery hopefully he can find some consistent fitness.
On top of that, Chelsea has missed out on the talents of their new signings Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia due to their respective injuries. Their Eighty-million-pound centreback, Wesley Fofana, was already ruled out for the majority of the season because of a cruciate ligament tear in pre-season. I could write another ten pages on Chelsea injuries but the point is, if the club can find some fortune with their injuries and get as close to a full squad as possible, there is some serious talent yet unearthed in this side. If these players can stay fit, there is enough quality in this squad to at least get back into Europe.
I have already spoken about the potential of this Chelsea team but there is already a lot of quality within the team. The qualities of these players can go unnoticed because of the chaos that seems to always be surrounding Chelsea. Players such as Moises Caicedo, Djordje Petrovic, Malo Gusto etc. have all been solid players for Pochetino but have not yet received their deserved praises because results have been contradictory. It's at least a positive sign that the players are starting to put in more consistent performances as it should hopefully soon be reflected in results.
Last season, very few players seemed to be enthusiastic about Chelsea and may have already been looking for a way out before the final whistle. With this season's squad, their effort and passion for Chelsea cannot be faulted. Even with poor results, Chelsea fans can still believe that these players cared and gave their all. A squad that believes in the 'process', unlike last season, is more likely to succeed in the long term because they want to be at the club for its success, instead of wanting to jump ship when results are against them. If these players are allowed to grow and develop, Chelsea can build a strong and loyal squad that could challenge for the league title and even dominate in the next few years.
As fans look forward to a cup final next month, 2024 can potentially be a turning point for Chelsea. A turning point that will result in Chelsea being back where they belong among the European elite.