Premier League season preview: Chelsea

Fernando Torres must step up in 2012/13 and fill Didier Drogba's boots. Photo: PA


Manager: Roberto di Matteo

Position last season: 6th

Ground: Stamford Bridge (Capacity: 42,055)

Players in: Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, undisclosed), Eden Hazard (Lille, undisclosed), Thorgan Hazard (Lens, undisclosed), Oscar (Internacional, undisclosed).

Players out: Didier Drogba, Jose Bosingwa, Salomon Kalou (all released), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, season-long loan), Patrick van Aanholt, Tomas Kalas (both Vitesse Arnhem, season-long loans), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid, season-long loan), Kevin de Bruyne (Werder Bremen, season-long loan).

Key man: Fernando Torres. Didier Drogba's departure has left a crater up front for Chelsea. On the face of it, who better to replace the muscular Ivorian than the winner of the Golden Boot at Euro 2012? But Torres is a flighty thoroughbred, as likely to slip into a month-long sulk after a few games without a goal as he is to lead the line with the sort of confidence that Drogba exuded. Torres' mercurial feet will play a massive role in Chelsea's campaign.

Chances: Despite delivering the FA Cup and a coveted Champions League trophy, newly approved manager Roberto di Matteo will be expected to hit the ground running this season - failure to do so may test owner Roman Abramovich's notoriously thin patience, and you wonder how quickly the Italian can integrate talented new stars such as Eden Hazard and Marko Marin into a team capable of competing with the Manchester clubs. Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and John Terry remain but is this the year when their age tells? More questions than answers for the reigning European champions.

Where they'll finish: 3rd.

New signing Marko Marin may struggle to crack Chelsea's first team. Credit: PA