Now that the transfer window is closed (bar a few minor leagues), our transfer dealings are almost settled, and our squad would more or less remain as it is till the January transfer window. So I guess now is a good time to assess our squad.
Our summer transfer window started with additions after additions, and the departure of 3 senior faces (Drogba, Kalou, and Bosingwa). At one point our squad was so stocked that it would seem like a nightmare to fit every player in and keep them happy.
Then the departures started. Basically loaning young prospects or players deemed surplus to requirements out to other teams. Somewhere about 2 days before the transfer window closes, we've seemingly trimmed our squad to the perfect size, with a slight lack of depth in central midfield and center forward.
On the transfer dateline day itself, we thought we would get Loic Remy at one point, we didn't, and instead we loaned Essien to Real Madrid. We look increasingly thin at central midfield after that, but two days later, yet another central midfielder left us, someone we signed just last summer, Raul Meireles.
As it stands, this is how our first team squad looks like for now:
It has been like this for the previous few years, and if Cech stays fit, he is as reliable as ever. With Turnbull and Hilario as his understudy, we have enough depth here. However, unlike other top teams, we tend to field our first choice keeper even in local cup games. I would personally hope to see more of Turnbull and Hilario in those matches.
We basically retained this department from last season, with Azpilicueta replacing Bosingwa. We're pretty strong in left-back and the two centerback positions, with enough cover for injuries and suspensions. The only variable would be at right-back. Does Ivanovic plays his secondary position better than Azpilicueta does in his primary position? This is the question lots of us would ask. So far in the opening games this season, Ivanovic played very well, except for the Super Cup match where no one did. We've yet to see Azpilicueta play, but hopefully he gets a reasonable amount of opportunities to show what he is capable of, and hopefully he plays well enough to allow Ivanovic to return to the center.
It's better to separate the midfielders from advanced/attacking midfielders. This is where we seriously lacked depth. Both Ramires and Oscar are thought to be competing for a place higher up but after the departures of Essien and Meireles, they are expected to provide cover here. This isn't their ideal positions, which narrows us down to just 3 players whose primary position is here. Lampard and Mikel look like our first choice pairing right now. They are good but not spectacular. Another option would be to switch to a 4-3-3, with a 3-man inverted triangle midfield. If that's the case, it would suit Lampard, Ramires, and Oscar perfectly, as it would put less defensive responsibilities on them compared to a double-pivot. All in all, we should still hope for reinforcements in this position come January.
This is the position we were most stocked at one point. But after the loans of De Bruyne, Benayoun, and Kakuta, and the absorbing of Ramires and Oscar for midfield cover, we are now 'just nice' in this department. 'Just nice' as in number of players here, but in terms of quality, we're absolutely brimming with loads. Mata and Hazard provide the 'midas touch', while Marin and Moses are true wingers that we hadn't seen since the Robben and Duff era. We could always call upon Ramires and Oscar to play here when needed. Regardless of our formation (either 2 or 3 attacking midfielders needed), we're still well covered here, which then make Malouda surplus to requirements. He might be that one final last minute departure anyway, with Lyon reportedly interested.
Yes, we have only two actual center forwards. Which is why thoughts of a false nine arise. Torres will now be the undisputed number one striker and will get all the opportunity in this world to show his worth, at least until January. Sturridge would most likely be used as an impact sub, but he has yet to really prove himself as a center forward. With Torres seemingly regaining his form, we would need to pray hard that he stays fit all the time. Anything otherwise, we surely need to buy a striker in January, while hoping it's not too late that damage has been done to our campaign.
With a squad like this, and our early season results so far, we are realistically in with a shout for the premiership title, but might still fall short. However, we should not finish anywhere lower than 3rd place.