I don't know if you remember that one time we went to Stamford Bridge. It was kinda cool. It was like... really loud, and there was something about a "Soon to win the Champions League," thing. Oh....and this happened.
Newcastle heads back to Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening to face the reigning Champions League winners. In anticipation for tomorrow's game, we did a quick little Q+A with Graham, the main man over at We Ain't Got No History.
1. What are your thoughts on Di Matteo? Do you think Roman Abramovich is still searching for a new coach, or do you see Di Matteo settling in as the Chelsea manager for the foreseeable future? We know, historically, how little the two-year extension signed in June means.
Di Matteo is interesting. His history suggests an incredibly adaptable manager, but he's been fairly rigid with Chelsea, setting them up as a counterattacking team (even against Wigan!). I'd like to think that he can adjust his squad to fit the players -- for me a 4-3-2-1 would be a better fit than the 4-2-3-1 we're running -- but we'll just have to wait and see. And yes, I think Roman Abramovich is still waiting on Pep Guardiola, but that might just be because I've heard it so many times my brain has given up on arguing it.
More commentary and analysis after the jump!
2. How do you feel about the Blues positioning for the coming season, and years following? One of the constant knocks on Chelsea is their ever increasing age. Do you feel that the additions of Moses and Hazard sufficiently address the issue of replacing the "old guys"?
The age thing's been overblown for a couple of seasons. The average age of the squad has been decreasing since June 2010, when Chelsea dumped a lot of their veterans, and it'll only be lower this year. Didier Drogba's gone, another of the veterans in Paulo Ferreira will basically never play, and most of the elite talent on the squad is reasonably young. With Oscar, Hazard, Marko Marin, Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta all in, I'm pretty happy with the youth movement.
3. How soon do you see potential superstars like Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku contributing in a meaningful way to the squad?
Lukaku might be ready to contribute significantly as early as next year. It depends on how he does with West Bromwich Albion, although early returns are pretty encouraging. As for Courtois, he's ready to start in the Premier League right now. When he does will depend on how Petr Cech performs over the next few seasons. I'm much more confident in Courtois than Lukaku, but I'm very hopeful that both will work out.
4. Looking internationally, how do you expect Chelsea to perform as defenders of the Champions League title?
We won the Champions League despite being very clearly not the best team in the competition. We're better than last year, certainly, but I'd have trouble putting us as a top four team in Europe at the moment. So I'll say quarterfinals as the most reasonable outcome.
5. Looking domestically, what would constitute a successful season for the squad? Do you believe you are legitimate title contenders? How do you hope to fare in the domestic cups?
Chelsea have to finish in the top three. Coming in in sixth place ended up being only an embarrassment rather than a huge financial hit last season, but Chelsea losing touch with the title contenders was very, very bad, and with the cash they've shelled out this summer they need to be on par with Manchester City and United again this year. Can they do it? I think third is a safe target, second a stretch and first pretty unlikely. I would like to win the FA Cup again though.
6. Finally, a prediction for Saturday's match? Do expect to see Cisse hit another inexplicable wonder-goal, or will the Blues avenge last season's loss at Stamford Bridge?
Oh, call it 2-1 Chelsea. I'm in an optimistic mood today. Sorry! Also Papiss Cisse haunts my dreams.