Di Matteo wants Chelsea to close gap on rivals
Posted Saturday, August 18 2012 at 15:46
- Chelsea have undergone a significant overhaul during the summer, with the departures of Didier Drogba, Jose Bosingwa and Salomon Kalou
- The Blues still hoping to bring in Victor Moses from Wigan Athletic before the close of the window
WIGAN, United Kingdom
Roberto Di Matteo admits Chelsea's main target this season is to close the gap on title rivals Manchester City and Manchester United as the European champions prepare to kick off their Premier League campaign at Wigan on Sunday.
Di Matteo is determined to translate last season's Champions League and FA Cup double into success in the league.
But last season the Blues finished in sixth place, 25 points behind champions City and second placed United, following an erratic league campaign.
Di Matteo, who was installed as permanent manager this summer, believes it will be a tough challenge to gatecrash the title race, particularly for a team in a state of transition.
Yet the Italian knows the demands for success at Stamford Bridge will remain high and he must deliver in the Premier League to keep his job, with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola believed to waiting in the wings.
"This is an ambitious club and we know we have to win trophies to be successful," Di Matteo said.
"Personally, I still believe that Man City is the favourite because they haven't lost any key players. But, certainly, Robin Van Persie is a good signing for United.
"We have to try to close the gap, for sure. It's not that we're not going to try.
"We have to try to challenge ourselves with the other teams, so I wouldn't say there is no expectation."
Di Matteo's squad has undergone a significant overhaul since that dramatic Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.
Di Matteo expects the new look of the squad to be reflected in a changing style of play for a team that relied heavily on Drogba's power last season.
Marin will be missing with a hamstring problem on Sunday, but otherwise Di Matteo has a full strength squad to choose from, including Oscar who has just joined up with the club after his Olympic campaign with Brazil.
More arrivals are expected, possibly including Victor Moses who will line up for Wigan on Sunday after several Chelsea bids for the Nigerian forward were rejected by the Latics.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is confident Moses will be ready to face players who could soon become team-mates.
"If you don't meet a valuation, it becomes paper talk and speculation," he said.
"It happens everywhere, it gives you uncertainty and I don't think that helps. The players are human beings.