How Chelsea became Premier League Champions again

Ed Nixon Roar Pro

By Ed Nixon, Ed Nixon is a Roar Pro

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    A year ago today, Chelsea were languishing in ninth place in the league. They were out of contention for any silverware and were onto their second manager of the season.

    A year on, and things could not be more different.

    A 1-0 away victory over West Brom, courtesy of a late Michy Batshuayi winner secured the title for Chelsea with two games left to play.

    But just how have they turned things around so drastically?

    After a tumultuous 2015-16 campaign which saw Chelsea go through two managers, owner Roman Abramovich got the man he was after when Italy boss Antonio Conte penned a three-year deal with the West London side.

    In Conte, Chelsea now had a tactically smart manager who would bring a new mentality and style of play to Stamford Bridge.

    In his first summer transfer window, Conte made some crucial signings that would shape the course of Chelsea’s season. None were more important than N’Golo Kante.

    N'Golo Kante for Leicester

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    Fresh from guiding Leicester to their first Premier League title, Kante was instrumental in Chelsea going from a mid-table side to undisputed champions.

    He has made 114 tackles, 2,011 successful passes and 79 interceptions as he has imposed himself on a Chelsea midfield which had previously lacked a hard-working general who was content with doing the basics right.

    As Conte implemented a new look 3-4-2-1 system, a formation he deployed successfully for Juventus, it allowed Kante to play with the same freedom he did at Leicester and saw him claim both the PFA Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year awards.

    New signing Marcos Alonso and the resurgent Victor Moses were utilised as wing backs, while the re-signed David Luiz and ever-present combination of Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta acted as the cornerstone of Chelsea’s three man defence that has kept a league high 16 clean sheets to date.

    Up top, Conte built his team around the attacking prowess of the Eden Hazard, Pedro and the villainous Diego Costa.

    Out wide, Hazard recaptured his form from 2014-15 which landed him the PFA and FWA Player of the Year, as he has netted 15 goals and five assists.

    On the other flank, Pedro put a disappointing debut season behind him as he answered his critics with eight goals and eight assists, while Diego Costa got off to a fast start to the season and has 20 league goals to his name.

    Chelsea didn’t have it all their own way to start the season however. They only picked up ten points in their first six games, but Conte’s side soon started to embrace the Italian’s system and it saw his side go on a 13 game winning streak.

    Club legend John Terry, alongside veterans John Obi Mikel and Branislav Ivanovic were frozen out of the side, with the latter two being sold in January, while Terry is set to end his 19 year stay at the club this summer.

    The result of these changes has seen Chelsea become the dominant force in the Premier League this season, while adopting a new style of play to keep up with the ever evolving tactics of modern day football.

    Conte’s first season in English football has been a success, but he will have one final hurdle to face on 28th May when his side face Arsenal in the FA Cup Final.

    Conte will be looking to become the first Chelsea manager since Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10 to win the double in his first season in charge.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • May 14th 2017 @ 10:53am
      Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | May 14th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

      Conte, has done magnificently at Chelsea; as a long time Chelsea supporter, but not being able to watch many games in their magnificent run through the EPL, I will be delighted to be watching them play in the UCL next season with great interest. Go the Blues!

      • Roar Pro

        May 15th 2017 @ 3:28pm
        David McDaniel said | May 15th 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

        Conte is a breath of fresh air. He has great tactical skills, is an excellent man manager and he does not hide his passion and his love of the players and the fans. Seing a manager show the same passion as the fans is an amazing sight.

        The results are awesome but a manager like that is worth his weight in gold and I hope we keep him for a very, very long time!

        KTBFFH!

    • Roar Pro

      May 18th 2017 @ 5:38am
      The Doc said | May 18th 2017 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      Great article Ed. As a Spurs supporter I am bitterly disappointed as we achieved a record points haul in the EPL era and would have had enough points to win a league in many previous seasons.
      Have to hand it to Chelsea, over the course of 38 games there is no question they are deserved champions. The way Conte has reinvigorated the underperforming players from last season – Hazard, Matic, Costa, Cahill – has been impressive.

    • May 18th 2017 @ 9:00am
      Buddy said | May 18th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      I am on record as a long time follower of the club – used to be a supporter when I lived in the uk…….my point being that I used to travel just about everywhere part company with money to watch them and in the 70’s spilt a bit of blood too as they were fairly dark days in many respects. These dys and having enjoyed living in Australia for amfew decades, I follow their fortunes, watch what I can and when I visit the uk, I have managed to squeeze in an odd game or two.

      However, I am going to tke issue with a lot of what has been said globally about the turnaround this season as I haven’t personally seen anything surprising in the changes that have taken place. JM should have guided the, to the premiership in his first season back. They had every opportunity, but instead we had to listen to the usual rhetoric and how it was all about season 2 at the club. They certainly delivered on that score, no argument. They were not playing attractive football on many occasions but I have met very few fans who wouldn’t swap a premiership winning season for some boring games and the grinding out of results.
      Last season; well we have seen many theories about losing the dressing room etc etc, none of it really makes any sense but we witnessed plenty of very average performances – make that poor – and we know the rest of the story. Although most CFC fans loved and respect JM, it was always going to end in tears and recriminations. Wind the clock forward and the club has a new maanger and three new signings that look as though they will fit in quite nicely.
      In September however, successive defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool saw some very grey looking clouds over the team and what was in store. Then we hear about this magical transformation, which is nothing more than changing the structure of how the team attacks and defends. What has followed has been the inability of many teams to break down a tight defence with a shield sitting in the middle. The team has had pace to burn going forward and given their high degree of ball skill combined with velvet like pitched they have exploited the situation on most occasions although I would argue that other coaches and teams have not worked out how to un pick the system for whatever reason.
      On the other hand, Spurs, Palace and Man u all,worked it out in recent weeks and dumped the premiers firmly on their backsides on those three occasions. The trouble is for the other chasing teams is that they have consistently slipped up against teams they are expected to beat and for me that is the key to winning the premiership. Liverpool had a terrible time in January and Feb, almost went out of the cup to Plymouth but they kept losing or drawing to the teams you have to beat every week to lift that trophy. Whether it is the coach who cannot get the players motivated and they just believe all they have to do is turn up, play some football and they will win, I don’t know; but one team managed to keep on winning against the non title chasing teams. Against the top sides, Chelsea’s record this season is very average…take a look. Combine all that with no european distraction and very few injuries and it isn’t somhard to see why all that amassed talent shouldn’t be lifting the trophy at the end of the season, and with a relatively small squad too – and by small I mean players used regularly in competition, not the squad overall.
      As for entertainment – well watching their under 18 side has provided far more for me this season. Statistics will deem them to be the best side this season but I’d argue that there are teams that are far more attractive to watch although these days I’d argue that there are better leagues to watch than the EPL. At the end of it all though, I’m still smiling as Spurs finished below again, Arsenal hit the self destruct button some time back, City haven’t got their act together, Liverpool haven’t improved a great deal,under their latest messiah and Man Utd – well it seems just another JM circus!
      Next season is likely to be a very different affair but in the meantime, I will be singing “blue is the colour” through the winter months.

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