Jose Mourinho has admitted that his first-choice side at Chelsea has not been completely decided on since his return to Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese coach has an enviable amount of talent available to him across the pitch, and if he can get the best out of his side will surely have every chance of lifting the Premier League title this season.
If everyone was fit and available, here is what I believe to be Chelsea’s best starting XI, in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
GK – Petr Cech
LB – Ashley Cole
RB – Cesar Azpilicueta
CB – John Terry
CB – Branislav Ivanovic
DM – David Luiz
DM – Ramires
LM – Juan Mata
RM – Eden Hazard
AM – Oscar
ST – Romelu Lukaku
Listing the amount of players not in this starting XI show the sheer quality at Mourinho’s disposal.
In goal, Thibaut Courtois will soon be ready to take over from Petr Cech as the Blues’ number one – but for the time being the veteran should still get the nod.
In defence, John Terry is a mainstay and it is my contention that Branislav Ivanovic is the most complete defender that the west London club has – and should be a centre-half.
Ashley Cole should return to the side, while Cesar Azpilicueta is good going forward and back, but should be on his natural side.
In the heart of midfield, David Luiz played well as a defensive shield for his back four last term under Rafa Benitez, and with other options unconvincing, he should be given another chance here. Alongside him, countryman Ramires is the heartbeat of the side’s midfield.
Mourinho is quite right to have Oscar as his focal point in the number ten role, but needs to work a way of including Juan Mata. By shifting Eden Hazard to the right, Mata should be able to come into the team and form an enviable trident.
In attack, Fernando Torres is the best option of Mourinho’s current charges, but Romelu Lukaku should not have been allowed to leave on loan. The Belgian would be a devastating lone striker in this team full of creativity.
So where do Chelsea need to strengthen?
The only area of concern for Mourinho will be in the centre of midfield. With John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien unconvincing and Frank Lampard getting older, a new box-to-box midfielder could complete the Chelsea squad.
Links with Fredy Guarin are understandable, and the Inter man could well be the final piece of the puzzle.
image: © Ben Sutherland