7 Reasons Chelsea Are Champions
Chelsea became Premier League champions last night after a 1-0 win against West Brom at the Hawthorns. The victory gave Antonio Conte’s men their second title in three seasons and gave them their fifth in total of the Premier League era, with only Manchester United winning more. But how did a team who finished 10th just one year ago win arguably the hardest and most competitive league on the planet? And with such ease? We take a look at the 7 reason Chelsea are champions once again.
Having started off the season well enough, Chelsea then lost two big games on the bounce in September, culminating in a 3-0 drubbing at Arsenal. While the result itself was naturally a blow to Conte’s honeymoon period, it probably won them the title. Having conceded three before half time at The Emirates, Conte reverted to his favoured 3-4-3 system for the second half. Chelsea never looked back, immediately going on a staggering, record-tying 13 wins in a row.
2) N’Golo Kante
It doesn’t take too much football knowledge to see just what a difference Kante’s signing from Leicester has made to Chelsea. The PFA and Football Writer’s Player of the Year has been colossal in Chelsea’s central midfield two, and has added some much needed energy and stability in a midfield which often got overran last season, and his ability to win the ball so far up the pitch is crucial to side with as much pace as the Blues. While there are many reasons for Leicester’s exploits last season and this, as well as Chelsea’s change in fortunes, there is one constant. And his name is N’Golo.
3) Wing Backs
‘Revelation’ is a word that gets used often for players in form. But we’re not sure it has ever been more apt for Chelsea’s two wide men in the 3-4-3 formation. Who knew a relative unknown who played for a relegated Bolton and an almost-relegated Sunderland, and a proverbial English journeyman who’s barely had a chance at the club would become arguably the best wing backs in the league. While it’s testament to Conte’s coaching, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses deserve all the credit for their stellar seasons in new roles. Not only have they given the side balance, they’ve chipped in with some very important goals too.
4) Signing Back David Luiz
David Luiz was considered somewhat of a panic buy when he headed back to Chelsea following 2 years in Paris, but the ‘PlayStation player’ has been essential to Conte’s switch to a back three. His ability to play out from the back has never been in question, but it’s his calmness and leadership which has really impressed this season. His form, alongside that of a much-improved Gary Cahill and an always 8/10 Cesar Azpilicueta, have given Chelsea the foundation nobody saw coming.
5) No Champions League
Though it’s been used as a desperate excuse by rival fans and Jose Mourinho (ironically the man who delivered it), Chelsea’s lack of Champions League or any European football has without question helped the team’s domestic ambitions. Chelsea’s squad is actually relatively thin. There’s no real cover on either wing, and Michy Batshuayi’s signing as a deputy to Diego Costa clearly hasn’t worked as Conte would have wished – despite his winner last night! But really, that lack of depth has rarely been exposed on the title charge. Conte has been able to name unchanged team after unchanged team. And that consistency, particularly at the back, has been vital.
6) Eden Hazard
While that defensive consistency is important for any title winning side, you can’t win championships without match winners. And this season there’s been none better than Eden Hazard. The Belgian was inexplicably anonymous for most of Chelsea’s disastrous 2015/2016 campaign but has been sensational in his new freer role under Conte, and has probably had a better season than his incredible year under Mourinho in 2014/2015. Hazard and Kante were the only real choices for Player of the Season, and while we think Kante deserves it for his performances across the last two seasons, really it’s a toss-up.
7) Antonio Conte
But when all is said and done, there’s one real reason why Chelsea are champions: Antonio Conte. The energetic Italian was exactly the tonic the West London club needed following the acrimonious departure of Jose Mourinho midway through last season. Not only has the football been breath-taking at times – especially during the 13 game win streak – the humility and passion he’s brought to not only Chelsea, but the Premier League as a whole, has been a breath of fresh air. And when you consider that only two sides have won the English double since the turn of the millennium – with the last being Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009/2010 – the potential feat is all the more remarkable. You also get the feeling he’s only just getting started at Chelsea. Chelsea need to back his project. If they do, it could be ominous for everyone else…