Can Chelsea challenge in the Premier League next season?

Chelsea went into the 2022/23 season with high hopes of winning silverware after splashing the cash during the summer transfer window.

However, they struggled to live up to expectations and more financial outlay on new players in January failed to deliver the desired results. The club’s decision to sack Thomas Tuchel as manager last September was questionable and things have not improved since then.

Graham Potter lasted just seven months in the job at Stamford Bridge, and interim replacement Frank Lampard has been unable to turn the team’s fortunes around. Two late goals against Bournemouth on Saturday gave Lampard his first win since returning, but his team were largely unconvincing at the Vitality Stadium.

Lampard will end his second spell in charge at the end of the season, with the club reportedly set to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their permanent manager. 

The former Tottenham Hotspur boss will be expected to hit the ground running, but that will not be easy given how far the club has fallen this season.

Their current status will be reflected in the outright market to win next season’s Premier League, with the top bookmakers in the United Kingdom and Ireland likely to favor several of their rivals.

The leading Irish betting apps will make Manchester City the overwhelming favorites, with Arsenal and Manchester United expected to be next in the betting. Newcastle United and Liverpool will also attract interest from sports bettors, highlighting the size of the task Pochettino faces at Chelsea.

The first issue will be to trim down a squad that has been bloated by the new owners adopting a reckless approach during the last two transfer windows. They still have numerous issues to address this summer, starting with resolving a glaring problem in the goalkeeping department.

Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy have struggled to demonstrate they are good enough to nail down the number role and must be replaced. A suitable partner for Enzo Fernandez is also a priority, with N’Golo Kante’s fitness issues making it impossible for Chelsea to rely on him. 

N'Golo Kante Chelsea
N'Golo Kante (Credits: PeakPX)

Signing a reliable striker is another priority, although Pochettino may believe he can revive Romelu Lukaku’s career when he returns from his loan spell at Inter Milan.

Squad issues aside, the biggest hindrance to Chelsea’s hopes of challenging the Premier League is the strength of the competition they will face.

The Blues are a long way short of matching Manchester City, who boast a squad that is the envy of most other clubs in Europe.

With top-class talents such as Erling Braut Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne in their ranks, Pep Guardiola’s side have the ability to rip teams apart at will.

Arsenal are another obstacle in Chelsea’s way having mounted a sustained challenge for the title this time around. The Gunners are guaranteed to make significant additions to their squad this summer, which will make it more difficult for Chelsea to overhaul them.

The same point applies to Manchester United, who have made excellent progress since Erik ten Hag was appointed as manager last season.

The Red Devils are two or three players away from having a title-challenging team and have a manager who possesses a better pedigree than Chelsea’s incoming boss.

While catching the aforementioned trio could be too much to ask of Chelsea next season, they will view Newcastle and Liverpool as viable targets.

The Magpies have improved since their Saudi Arabian owners completed their takeover and will improve their squad this summer.

However, if Pochettino can get Chelsea’s current players to perform at their best and address the holes in the squad, they should have nothing to fear from Newcastle. It is a similar story with Liverpool, who have suffered a massive dip in their performances during the current campaign.

The Reds need to splash the cash this summer, but whether their owners have the stomach to make the necessary outlay is debatable.

Chelsea are unlikely to challenge for the title next season, but competing for a top-four place should be achievable.

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