Premier League 2018-19 preview: Chelsea

August in football offers hope. Clubs and players dream of trophies and legacies. As Manchester City aim to become only the third EPL team to win back-to-back titles, The Sunday Times continues its countdown with one of their main rivals Chelsea

Talking points

1. THE REVIVAL OF ROSS BARKLEY

The attacking midfielder joined in January but has been plagued by injury problems which hindered the start of his Stamford Bridge career.

Former Blues boss Antonio Conte often deployed the Englishman as one of his front three to little effect.

But he played in a deeper role – with Jorginho and Cesc Fabregas – during this pre-season and his pace and power were effective in driving towards the opposition box.

Barkley, however, is likely to be back-up to N’Golo Kante, who led France to the World Cup in Russia.

2. WHAT IS SARRIBALL?

It is a fast-paced, possession-based style of attacking football named after Maurico Sarri, when the Chelsea manager was at the helm of Napoli.

Much like Pep Guardiola’s tikitaka, but Sarriball is a little more vertical in its advancement.

It also features short and swift passing but with an emphasis to move up the pitch in the shortest time possible, usually with just one touch of the ball from each player.

3. CHELSEA’S NO. 1 PROBLEM

The uncertainty surrounding the Blues’ No. 1 goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has been linked to Real Madrid, is perhaps a pressing issue for Sarri to address, especially with back-up Willy Caballero failing to impress in the pre-season International Champions Cup match against Inter Milan.

Robert Green, 38, is one of onl two signings Chelsea have made, but the former England international is hardly a replacement for Courtois.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 05, 2018, with the headline 'Premier League 2018-19 preview: Chelsea'. Print Edition | Subscribe