MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JULY 28: Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo looks on from the bench before the game against AC Milan in the Herbalife World Football Challenge 2012 at Sun Life Stadium on July 28, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
We're starting to get to the point of the summer where we'll have a pretty good idea of how the roster will actually look when the curtain raises on the 2012/13 season in a few weeks time. Quite a few loans are already finished, and several more will likely be done in the next several weeks. For now though, I thought I'd break down the roster as it stands right now and look at where we stand as far as cover for most positions. Please note that I'm not working on the assumption that we'll be running a 4-2-3-1 all season, so not all of these roles will be specific to that formation:
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech is the established #1. Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario are the established backups. Jamal Blackman is waiting in the wings as #4, and I'd assume he'll be playing with the U21's rather than heading out on loan. If something Hunt-like were to happen to Petr Cech and put him out long term, I'd assume we'd be recalling Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid. We seem to be pretty well set in net.
Central Defense: John Terry, David Luiz, and Gary Cahill are all established quality options. Branislav Ivanovic is an excellent 4th choice, but deploying him at CB means we can't use him at RB. Sam Hutchinson and Paulo Ferriera are capable of playing the position in a pinch, and Nathaniel Chalobah might be ready for some cameo minutes if he isn't loaned. There's always Danny Pappoe to keep in mind as well, as he should return from injury this season and has shown flashes of real potential. Should disaster strike, we've also got Tomas Kalas and Jeffrey Bruma as potential loan recalls. I wouldn't expect to see us buy anyone with first team minutes in mind here.
Left Back: Ashley Cole is still as good as anyone out there when he's on his game. Ryan Bertrand is as good a backup as anyone outside of Real Madrid has. Paulo Ferriera is probably third choice, and Sam Hutchinson is likely the emergency cover. There are also Ben Gordon and Patrick van Aanholt out on loan should disaster strike. Depending on what happens with Cole, this might be an issue in a year. I doubt we see a move this summer though.
Right Back: Branislav Ivanovic is the starter. Behind Bran we see Hutchinson, Paulo, Chalobah, and Ramires in a pinch. Ryan Bertrand has also seen some time there in the Olympics. I think it's safe to assume we'll be seeing an addition here by the end of the month.
Holding Midfielder: John Obi Mikel and Oriol Romeu have both proven to be solid lone holders should we run a formation that utilizes one, and Michael Essien hasn't been awful there either. Raul Meireles isn't a great option there, but Nathaniel Chalobah is probably a capable alternative in the U21 ranks. I'd imagine that Ramires would be a potential option here as well should real need arise.
Double Pivot: Mikel, Romeu, Essien, and Meierles are all capable in this role as well. Frank Lampard would likely start here, and Ramires and Josh McEachran are options as well. Some see Oscar eventually transitioning to this role, and Florent Malouda or Paulo Ferreira might serve as emergency cover. There are lots of good options here, so any buys would likely be for a different skillset as opposed to additional depth.
Box to Box Midfielders: Think of this as the traditional central midfield role. Ramires, Oscar, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Josh McEachran, and Raul Meireles all seem idelly suited to this role. Malouda, Romeu, Chalobah, and Mikel are all quality cover here as well. Once again, any purchase here will likely be with specifc roles in mind as opposed to simply adding depth.
Advanced Central Midfield: We've got loads here as well. Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, and Marko Marin all seem ideally suited to this type of role. Ramires, Lampard, Yossi Benayoun, and Meireles are all likely capable as well. We've seen Florent Malouda pressed into this role before. Lucas Piazon would seem to be an emergency option in the U21 ranks, and Kakuta if he doesn't head out on loan.
Wide Midfielders/Wingers: Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Marko Marin, and Ramires seem like they'd be the first options here. Oscar is certainly an option as well, as are Florent Malouda, Gael Kakuta, Daniel Sturridge, and Yossi Benayoun. Lucas Piazon is in the U21's, and Ryan Bertrand can play further forward in a pinch. Kevin De Bruyne may or may not have an injury recall as well, although it would seem unlikely that there will be a need. We seem well stocked here, but we've still been linked to more of this type of player. Personally, I'd just as soon pass on any other 1st team options out wide at this point unless it's just a ridiculous bargain.
Striker: This one is pretty clear cut. We have Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge. After that, we have Romelu Lukaku who would probably be best served by going out on loan. In the U21 ranks we have the artist formerly known as Adam Phillip and January signing Patrick Bamford. The ideal scenario here would be to bring in first team help and allow the kids to get game time in the U21 ranks and loans respectively.
Obviously quite a few things can change as the season goes on, but in most positions we seem to be fairly well stocked with talent and varying skillsets. Right back and center forward seem like areas where we could clearly upgrade, and while we could add in other areas as well, we at least look to have enough bodies for the short term. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.