Chelsea entered the 2016-2017 English Premier League season looking to rebound from a very disappointing 2015-16 campaign, where they finished a tame 10th in the table.
They will participate in the FA Cup and League Cup, but with no action in any UEFA competition for the first time since the 1996–97 season, they could hugely benefit from having a fresher squad for the domestic cause. William Hill betting has Chelsea as the clear and red hot favourites to win the Premier League title now and the West Londoners will be very hard to stop.
Antonio Conte’s reign as Chelsea manager started off great with 3 wins from 3 games back in August using the same old trusted system Chelsea have used over the years. It was then, back in September, that they had a nightmare patch; drawing to Swansea away, then losing to Liverpool at home, followed by another loss at Arsenal. It was half-way through the Arsenal game that Conte decided to shake the system and change to a 3-4-3 formation which continued against Hull City in the following fixture where they went on to dominate a strong 2-0 win lead by goals from Willian and Diego Costa.
This also gave a new lease of life for the loan ranger Victor Moses who was given the opportunity as right wing back where he has done nothing but excel in that position down that flank playing 14 games, scoring twice and assisting once and also contributing to 10 clean sheets in 13 games in a solid defence led by Tim Cahill, David Luiz, César Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso.
Chelsea’s run of fine form continued with a solid 3-0 win over Leicester City which condemned the defending champions to their fourth consecutive away defeat of the season. The Blues then went on to welcome Jose Mourinho back to the bridge with a stunning 4-0 display over the Red Devils. Next up was an away trip the the new West Ham London Stadium in the League Cup, where Chelsea went on to lose, leaving them in just two competitions for the remainder of the season – the Premier League and FA Cup with plenty of rest time in between games.
They went on to bounce back in their next league game against Southampton winning 2-0 away from home. This was the month (October) that the Chelsea duo of Eden Hazard and Antonio Conte picked up awards ‘Player Of The Month’ and ‘Manager Of The Month’.
Chelsea then went on to win their next 9 Premier League games in a row keeping 6 clean sheets in that time. During that amazing run they collected 3 points on a visit to the Etihad going into half time chasing the game at 1-0 down. They went on to win the game 3-1 with goals from Costa, Willian and Hazard.
The league leader’s 13-game winning streak came to an end recently when they visited Tottenham on 4th January and lost 2-0 owing to an inspired Spurs display, quelling any hopes of breaking the longest winning streak record set by Arsenal in their glory days.
However, Chelsea remain firmly in the driving seat, a few points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s reformed Liverpool side sitting in 2nd place. Conte has clearly brought back a great mood to Chelsea where the team are enjoying their football which has reflected in this impressive season thus far. This is a team fully equipped to go the distance.