Without a doubt, Chelsea FC had a phenomenal domestic season, not only because they won the title but because they had consistency from the beginning. Chelsea finished the season with 93 points and a gap difference of seven points to trailing Tottenham Hotspurs. And the credit has to be given to manager Antonio Conte, who achieved so much success with the Blues in his first season itself.
It is interesting to note that at the beginning of 2016-17 season, Chelsea did not carry many expectations as it was predicted as the fourth favourite to win the title. Conte’s side finished the season with a massive 85 goals as rival managers declared early in 2017 that it was the Blues’ title to lose.
Chelsea’s success last season was a repeat of their domination in the 2014-15 season in which they won the title by a vast difference to trailing Manchester City under Jose Mourinho. But what happened afterwards is a worry that the reigning champions need to avoid and look into.
The next season, when Leicester’s fairytale unfolded, Chelsea were nowhere in the top nine standings, leading to Mourinho’s exit as Chelsea boss. Conte knows that he would meet the same fate if the repeat of the disastrous 2015-16 season happens. Conte said in an interview, “Two years ago Chelsea finished 10th; that cannot happen again. We know the difficulty and for sure we want to avoid the Mourinho season with Chelsea. The coaches of the previous two champions [Chelsea and Leicester] both lost their jobs and we are working very well to find the best solutions and use them.”
The 48-year old manager has, however, been criticised for letting go of Nemanja Matic to United and many fear that the move will make a difference in their attempt to retain the title. He has tried to fill the void left by Matic by getting Tiémoué Bakayoko. “Bakayoko is a good signing for us. He is very young. My idea was to give Bakayoko the right time to adapt in this league behind Matic. But now after the sale of Matic, we need to try to accelerate this process for Bakayoko after his injury.”
The Stamdford Bridge side has also roped in Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid to fill in for fans-favourite Diego Costa, who is now training on his own in Brazil and contemplating his future, with a desire to return back to his former club Atletico Madrid. Morata might have played for big clubs but has not been a regular first team squad.
Chelsea’s pre-season ended with another defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield Cup after the FA Cup final loss. Last month, they lost to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and Serie A giants Inter Milan.
They will kick off against Burnley on Saturday to begin the new season of the Premier League. But with Manchester United and other clubs looking stronger, they need to be at their best to retain the title.