The London club suffered one of the worst ever Premier League title defences last season, with interim boss Guss Hiddink guiding Chelsea to a tenth placed finish, having been one point above the relegation zone when Jose Mourinho was sacked in December.
Incoming manager Antonio Conte is famed for his defensive style, and former striker Zola believes the current Italy boss will implement his favoured 3-5-2 formation at Stamford Bridge as he looks to steady the ship.
However, the Blues hero is unsure if his countryman’s arrival will deliver another Premier League to west London.
Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Zola said: “I think Chelsea will have a difficult task.
“There will be a lot of competition; much more than in the past. I know Conte and I know Chelsea, it’s a wonderful club.
“But in my opinion, if he wants to play the system that he likes to play at the moment, which is the 3-5-2, then I’m sure he will be looking for defensive positions.”
Italian tactician Conte will arrive in England after he has completed his duties with Italy, where their solid performances have ensured they will progress to the last 16 of Euro 2016 as Group E winners.
Yet Zola has warned his countryman of the magnitude of the task he faces in attempting to wrestle the Premier League title away from last season’s chasing pack.
“I’m sure they will be up for it, whether they can win it I don’t know because the competition is really strong.”