SEATTLE, WA - JULY 18: Eden Hazard #17 of Chelsea FC dribbles against Brad Evans #3 of the Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field on July 18, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Chelsea defeated the Sounders 4-2. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Welcome to what I hope will be a regular feature this coming season, where we open up the floor to get an opposition view ahead of a game.
First up to represent Sunday's Community Shield opponents Chelsea is Graham Macaree from SB Nation's Chelsea blog We Aint Go No History and who is also the lead soccer editor here at SBN.
Over to Graham....
(Bitter and Blue) An at times underwhelming and certainly a tumultuous Premier League season but the season ended on a high note with the dual Cup wins. Can 2011/12 be judged anything other than a success?
(Graham Macaree) Obviously, I wouldn't change a thing -- I suspect that even City fans would have traded their season for ours, but we have to be realistic about just how good this Chelsea team is. Sixth in the Premier League was unacceptable, and although some of that was due to the club prioritising other tournaments, it's clear that we were in no position to contend at the top of the table. That needs to change, and quickly. So while last season was a magical, insane ride, it highlights some structural flaws in the squad that need to be fixed. Immediately.
(BB) Roberto di Matteo has been handed the reins on a full-time basis. Is it the right move?
(GM) I don't see why not. He won the Champions League and the FA Cup in his first few months in charge, and since there didn't seem to be a Pep Guardiola or a Jose Mourinho on the market, might as well go with the Chelsea legend who's already seen some success, right?
(BB) Chelsea have been the most active of the sides at the top end of the Premier League. Who are you expecting to have the greatest impact during the coming season?
(GM) Eden Hazard, for sure. I think Oscar might end up as a better player, but he's coming straight from the Brasileiro and I have to imagine he'll take some time adjusting. Marko Marin is a backup player for me, but Hazard is excellent, like Juan Mata on steroids. Expect lots of goals and lots of assists. I'm really looking forward to him.
(BB) Can di Matteo mesh the new signings quickly in way that perhaps Villas Boas couldn't achieve to avoid another slow start in the Premier League?
(GM) If you'll recall, Chelsea actually started very well last season before going completely off the rails in October, and I don't think the new signings were ever an issue. That said, we've had Hazard for far longer than we did Mata, and getting the Hazard-Marin pairing bedded in during preseason can only be helpful.
(BB) How do you see Sunday's game going and is it really anything other than a glorified pre-season run out?
(GM) I don't think of the Community Shield as much more than a friendly. We've played in this one a fair amount over the years, and if it ever had much magic it's long since lost it. I can't imagine y'all are that excited about it either, but either way, get used to it being your final preseason game for most of the next decade.
Many thanks to Graham for his time ahead of Sunday.