Chelsea look like serious contenders
Mourinho's astute strengthening makes Chelsea serious title contenders
Chelsea's pre-season campaign got off to a perfect start yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a thunderous 5-0 victory over lower league side Wycombe.
It will not be the last time that Chelsea take a team apart this year.
They have bought wisely, they are managed well and they will be serious contenders to win their first title since 2010.
Jose Mourinho made a point of running down his team's chances last season.
From an early stage, he was talking about little horses and lowered expectations, and while most of it was palpable, politically-motivated nonsense, the general theory was sound.
Chelsea have been in a state of constant revolution ever since Mourinho left for the first time in 2007.
A series of managers came and went, axed at the first sign of a slump, and swiftly replaced.
Player recruitment has been a dog of many fathers, coming under the influence of different coaches, directors of football and, in a few notable cases, owner Roman Abramovich himself.
When Mourinho returned in 2013, the squad were horribly unbalanced.
A season was needed for assessment and rebuilding.
Mourinho's issues with his strikers are well documented. Romelu Lukaku was dispatched on loan to Everton, Demba Ba was rarely trusted, he was caught on camera mocking Samuel Eto'o and, privately, he is known to have little faith in Fernando Torres.
That problem has now been emphatically resolved.
Diego Costa had a disastrous World Cup with Spain, the humiliation of his ineffectiveness matched only by the derision of the local supporters still furious that he had turned his back on his country.
Nevertheless, it would be wise to remember that he was only half fit, exhausted by a lengthy campaign with Atletico Madrid, the latter stages of which he had played through injury.
When he's refreshed and rested, the real Costa will be visible once again.
While Costa is not a technically stunning player, like Luis Suarez or Robin van Persie for example, he adds a dimension of physicality and intimidation that Chelsea have lacked for some time.
He is a man perfectly suited for Mourinho. He does not feel fear, he is not cowed by reputation and he will never ever stop fighting.
When the ball goes into the final third this season, you can bet that it will stick.
The addition of Cesc Fabregas will mean that the ball reaches the final third more accurately too.
The former Arsenal captain is a master of distribution and his trademark "dinked" passes over the top will be a rich seam to tap.
He is the perfect heir to Frank Lampard's throne. Fabregas is a first-class footballer, cultured and matured. He is a top-of-the-range midfielder.
The arrival of Filipe Luis is a double bonus. Not only does it give Chelsea a specialised left-back with energy and stamina, but it means that Cesar Azpilicueta, excellent in that position last season, can now move back to the right where he will be even more effective.
Branislav Ivanovic will be free to return to the centre, though he will find heavy competition from new arrival Kurt Zouma.
The recruitment of Mario Pasalic, the highly-rated Croatian midfielder, bodes well for the future. He is likely to go out on loan for the season.
Everywhere you look, the Chelsea squad look strong. They had an existing structure and a settled dressing room.
They have now refined the squad and strengthened the areas that were pitifully weak last year. Ally that to the tactical brilliance of Mourinho and you have serious title contenders.
Finally, Chelsea are firing on all cylinders.
Terry bullish about season
FIVE STARS: John Terry (left) after scoring in the 5-0 win over Wycombe. The other scorers were Patrick Bamford, Izzy Brown (two) and Branislav Ivanovic. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES
John Terry believes Chelsea will be serious contenders on all fronts with the arrival of Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Cesc Fabregas.
The 33-year-old Chelsea captain is hoping to end what could be his last season with the Blues on a high.
"I think we should be very competitive," he told Chelsea's official website. "We were close last year, but just unlucky at times. With the signings we have made and a couple of younger players who I think will surprise a few people this year.
"I think this should be a very good year. We want to win trophies - that is always the aim from the outset for me.
"I can see a lot more teams in the mix. First and foremost, though, we need to be solid, both home and away, because I think we dropped too many points against teams we shouldn't have."
Terry is especially enthusiastic about the signing of Costa from Atletico Madrid for £32 million ($68m) last Tuesday.
Brazil-born striker Costa helped Atletico to a first La Liga title in 18 years last season and guided them into the Champions League final, beating Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Terry, in his 20th season at Stamford Bridge, said: "First of all, his movement and his strength are really good - I was really surprised by it.
"He holds the ball up very well, he has got great movement and he is really physical, but he is very clever with his strength and the way he uses his body. I think he could be a very good signing for us."
Chelsea could have four players from Atletico on their roster next season.
Besides Costa, they have also agreed terms for Brazilian left back Luis, while Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is back following his three-season loan spell and midfielder Tiago could return to Stamford Bridge.
Luis will be an able replacement for Ashley Cole, who left on a free transfer with long-time midfielder Frank Lampard.
Terry also tipped Fabregas, 27, to fill club legend Lampard's boots.
"He's a very good signing," he said about the former Barcelona and Arsenal midfielder in Chelsea's official magazine.
"He is great on the ball, a great box-to-box player, he scores an awful lot of goals as well and he has got an aggressive streak in him too - I certainly remember that from his Arsenal days.
"I'm sure he is going to fit in really well at Chelsea and do well in the years to come." - PA Sport.