Chelsea was banned from signing new players for the next 2 transfer seasons by FIFA for persuading youngster Gael Kakuta to break his contract with French side FC Lens and sign with them in 2007. Frank Arnesen, Chelsea' sporting director, is likely the shady "poacher" to blame, but this does seem to be the common practice for all the big money clubs nowadays. This penalty seems to be an overly harsh punishment and was handed down to make an example of them and their improper conduct in the transfer process. My guess is that Chelsea will vehemently appeal this penalty and probably get the ban reduced to just 1 transfer season. If not, it will be a huge blow to one of the more wealthy and active teams in the transfer market in all of football.
Well, on the face of it, this seems like a huge blow. But I bet part of Roman Abramovich might be a little happy that he doesn't have the pressure of spending any cash for the next 2 years. Maybe. Or maybe he's so rich that he'd rather spend it in building his fantasy team. I guess I wouldn't like being shackled either. But Abramovich's spending prowess has accumulated the kind of depth to survive and still compete for at least the next campaign as well. The only issue that will arise are the possibilities of injuries which could leave periodic "holes" in their lineups.
On the other hand, I think there could be some good that will come out of this. Chelsea will be more inclined to hand long term contracts to their current players and also possibly give their young reserve players a longer look. Without the possiblity of new superstars who will come in expecting playing time, Chelsea's current roster will have a long extended period of time to develop chemistry with each other. Since they are not currently lacking in any position, they can simply focus on improvement instead of worrying about replacement. It has been said that the crucial issue is the age of the Chelsea team. While, many of Chelsea's stars are indeed past 30, they are mostly all in the prime of their careers. After the 2 transfer season ban, Chelsea will then have an even larger checkbook and a good idea of what positions need help.
Chelsea has started out this season edging out rival Man U for the community shield and then subsequently winning the first four EPL matches and sitting on top of the table. Drogba and Anelka have already shown that they are possibly the world's best striker tandem. With Solomon Kalou and even young talent Daniel Sturridge, I don't think they are lacking for goals. That said, I bet Chelsea might've wanted to keep Claudio Pizarro had they expected this penalty. On second thought, nah, nevermind. Malouda can always play on the left in a 4-3-3.
Ancelotti's new diamond formation in the midfield at home (4-3-3 on the road) has also given their numerous world class midfielders a different tactic. Lampard, Ballack, Essien, Mikel, Cole, Deco, Malouda, and Zhirkov (surprisingly the only big addition to the 1st team this summer) are all capable starters and give the team enough depth to weather the next 2 years. John Terry and his defensive group are not a cause for concern either.
With Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal all weakened this year and Man City still gaining their footing, I think Chelsea are clear favorites to win the EPL. It also seems to be about their turn to win a Champions League trophy. At the very least, this penalty should not adversely affect their title hopes for the next 2 seasons.
My favored lineup:
-----Anelka - Drogba----