Everton will host Chelsea in the early game on Saturday. With plenty of storylines in the backdrop, not least of which would be the whole spat over John Stones during the recently-closed transfer window, Goodison Park should be rocking and provide a raucous atmosphere for the visitors.
RBM - The first question is a pretty obvious one, and hopefully the last time we talk about it. Will Chelsea be coming back for John Stones in January? Is it dependent on the performances of the incumbent three and new signing Papy Mison Djilobodji?
WAGNH - I'd be shocked if Chelsea didn't come back for John Stones in January, and in the summer as well if they're not successful before then. Djilobodji likely won't factor into the decision at all, at the price the Blues paid for him, he's likely just a short-term depth answer, and I can't imagine Chelsea would hesitate to move him on if they had the opportunity to upgrade.
RBM - Speaking of incumbents, what is up with Chelsea's indifferent start? Is this a similar situation to last season when then-champions Manchester City saw their leaders like Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure slump, or is this just a phase?
WAGNH - I'm not sure how to answer this question, and I think Chelsea fans everywhere are more than a little confused as to why the club has started so slowly. On paper, this is a better group than the one that ran away with the title last season, even though they didn't do a whole lot over the summer. Playing a good portion of their opening matches with ten men certainly hasn't helped.
RBM - Is this season's Chelsea playing the same formations and tactics as last year? What does Jose Mourinho need to do to freshen things up?
WAGNH - Jose Mourinho hasn't done much to change the basic group or setup this season, though the individual responsibilities of his players typically change from match to match. With both Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic really struggling to start the season, I'd expect to see some minor adjustments ahead of the Everton match, though nothing drastic.
RBM - Much has been said about Chelsea's transfer policy which has 30-odd players out on loan at any given time. What are the benefits and pitfalls of this system as you see it? Has this strengthened or weakened the farm at Cobham?
WAGNH - I think it's fairly obvious that this system has worked out very well for the first team and the accountants, and given the result Chelsea have had at every level of the youth system, it's hard to fathom a legitimate argument that it's actually hurting the academy at Cobham. The sad reality is that the changes made the the reserve system haven't done anything to improve the quality of competition at that level, which is laughable, at best. The vast majority of Chelsea products are going to need several loans before being ready to take minutes off of players like Cesc Fabregas and Willian, so it's a bit of a necessary evil at the moment.
RBM - What would need to happen for Chelsea for this 2015-16 season to be considered a success? Realistically, how far do you think you can get in the Champions League?
WAGNH - Not a fan of these types of questions about labeling a season, especially without having any idea what's coming in terms of injuries/development/etc. Taking a pass here.
RBM - For those unaware of the stadium talk going around recently - will Chelsea be expanding Stamford Bridge, or moving to a new stadium?
WAGNH - This passed the speculation phase a while ago, the club is planning to renovate Stamford Bridge, and have already made their plans public.
RBM - The poor form of Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas has been a big factor in the club's shaky start. Are you expecting any changes in the starting XI for the Everton game?
WAGNH - As mentioned earlier, I doubt Chelsea will make any drastic changes against Everton this Saturday. We may see Oscar feature if he has recovered from his inury, which ought to help cover up the holes in the midfield caused by Cesc Fabregas' inability to defend. Other than that, I don't see any drastic changes coming for this one, but I'd expect a few for the first match of the Champions League group stage.
Thank you to Stephen for taking the time to speak with us.