First, if this is too close to the how-did-you-feel-about-the-summer thread, then my apologies (and please delete if necessary). I wanted to give a review of the squad, give a feel for what we have in terms of talent, and look ahead to the next year. I'll do this by looking at the incoming and outgoing transfers* across each position in the field then breaking it down by rating each position as getting better, worse, or the same.
*I'm only considering players who played semi-significant time with us last year in "outgoing"; for instance, Jeffrey Bruma won't be appearing since he didn't play for us last year.
Then I'll give my random musings about the ability of that group to compete with the rest of the league, and try to gauge how our players would stack up to other talent. Enjoy.
So, without further ado: Your 2013-14 Chelsea squad!
Who came in? Schwarzer
Who went out? Ross Turnbull
Notable loanees/youth players: Thibaut Courtois
Net improvement: slightly better
Transfer Window Progress Report: A-, if only for the value in Schwarzer. Cech looks to be in fine form (continuing a great run from the last two years), Schwarzer is a top backup, and Blackman looks to maybe get one appearance, or something. Oh, right, and a top-10 keeper in the world is out on loan. So there's that.
How good? Good enough to win the league, for sure.
League comparison: No one has both the quality at the top (and backup) that we have. Best in the league, overall.
Who came in? Kalas (and potentially Omeruo?)
Who went out? Paulo Ferreira
Net improvement: ever so slightly better
Transfer Window Progress Report: C. The major players (JT, Bran, Cahill, Cole, Luiz, Dave) haven't changed, so our top option at each position returns. In most cases, those players are either likely to improve (Luiz, Dave), likely to remain at their performance level (Cahill, Bran), or at least likely to improve on last year's horror showing (OK, OK, only JT). Cole will probably continue his gradual decline into goodness-not-greatness. Sad times. Kalas provides us with young cover at CB and RB in case of injuries. Bertrand is Bertrand. Will probably improve as a function of coaching (that'd be my guess). I'd predict something like 30 goals against.
How good? Good enough for a top three defense at least (like last year). The Mou effect might actually catapult them into "best defense" status (statistically) in the PL.
League comparison: top three, at least, talent-wise. In Luiz, we have one of the PL's best defenders (along with Kompany). United's Ferdinand/Vidic combination could be better than a Luiz/Terry backline if both stayed healthy, but that hasn't happened in forever. City probably has the best talent at the position, but Kompany, Nastisic, and Lescott all have some injuries. JT's rejuvenation, Bran's general competence, and Cahill's utility as a third-choice make us as deep as any team in the league (and potentially even better).
Breaking this into two sections, surprise!
Who came in? Essien (back from loan), van Ginkel
Who went out? Oriol Romeu (loan)
Net improvement: better
Transfer Window Progress Report: B-. We picked up one of Europes hottest deeper-lying midfielders in van Ginkel for £8m or so, which is good business. In the "now" department we picked up Essien's Experience who could help be a calming presence for us. Lampard can do a serviceable job in the pivot and Ramires provides a good amount of energy (and insanity). Hopefully, van Ginkel's passing gives us the Schewini type we all covet so much.
How good? It would be possible to win the league with this group, but it leaves a little to be desired. Mikel is likely the best "pure DM" in the league, but we still cold improve.
League comparison: United have the passer we crave (Carrick) but none of the barnstorming Toure-ness. City and Tottenham have all of the strength in midfield which can sometimes leave us baffled. All in all, I'd say our deeper-lying midfielders are top four in the league, but it's hard to project us as the best group in that respect.
Who came in? Schürrle, De Brunye (from loan), Willian, Christian Atsu
Notable loanees/youth players: Everyone. Seriously. But. Moses, Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu, Izzy Brown, Gael Kakuta, Thorgan Hazard
Net improvement: way better
Transfer Window Progress Report: A+. Like. What in the world. We improved our best-in-the-league attacking band by essentially giving oursleves two best-in-the-league attacking bands. Oscar, Mata, Hazard, and Willian would all almost definitely start for any team in the league; Schürrle and De Bruyne might not see time at the Manchester clubs, but even that is in doubt. We've not only given ourselves a ton of talent, we've also diversified skills. We have passers (Mata, Oscar, KDB), driving runners (Hazard, Willian, Schürrle), shooters (Schürrle, Mata, Hazard), disciplined wide-players (Schürrle, Willian), diligent trackers, (Oscar, KDB)... I could go on.
How good? The best.
League comparison: No one close.
Who came in? Samuel Eto'o, Stipe Perica
Who went out? Lukaku (loan)
Notable loanees/youth players: Perica, Islam Feruz
Net improvement: better, but worse than three days ago
Transfer Window Progress Report: C-. I have strong feelings about this. When I first considered doing this review a few days ago I figured I'd slap a B on this and talk about how much I love Lukaku. I really love Lukaku. I think he's got the potential to do unspeakable acts upon the rest of the Premier League. That isn't happening this year. We loaned out Lukaku to Everton. That puts us in the weird situation of being better than we were last year (because Eto'o/Torres/Ba - our apparent depth chart - is better than half a season of Torres/Injured Sturridge/Hazard False Nine and half a season of Ba/Torres) but worse than we were three days ago (when Lukaku would have been at least third choice and likely cemented himself as a top two striker for us by the end of the year).
The loan, logically, is a good move for Lukaku. Everton will probably pass around and mimic the attacking flair we'll start implementing eventually. He'll learn to pass, he'll learn to think, he'll learn to touch the ball more. All great. He's also not going to be here. So sad.
How good? Top 5? 6? It's hard to say. Our striker situation last year was... Bad. Our strikers combined to score four or five goals in the PL from January on. That's just abysmal. We signed Eto'o, a player who at one point was probably the most feared striker in the world (yes, I'm intentionally evoking the spirit of Torres here). He's 32 and he spent two seasons in Russia. I'm assuming he'll be at least average, and that will make him our first choice striker. If he's 80% of the player he was in his last season at Inter we'll be in an OK place. The situation isn't so dire we couldn't win the league, because honestly we don't really need our striker to be RvP. It would be nice though.
League comparison: City, United, Everton (...I regret nothing), Liverpool, and potentially Aston Villa all have better striking situations. I'd put us in the Arsenal/Spurs tier for striker quality. That's not great. Hopefully Eto'o will be great. You decide.
So, in review, I think we got better all across the field. The net squad improvement was better; I'd give our overall transfer record a B+.
I definitely think we can win the title. Bring it on... Liverpool?