While it’s undoubtedly been a season to forget for Chelsea, there have been some choice positives to take along the away. Amid all the turmoil, the Blues have experienced some highs as part of their undulating form.
Consequently, there are a few results this season that the Stamford Bridge side can draw upon for inspiration ahead of 2016-17.
These five results should provide hope that Chelsea can recover next season under Antonio Conte and that even in their most disappointing campaign, there have still been games to cheer about:
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Chelsea’s gritty 1-0 win at Arsenal in January harked back to the hard fought victories that had seen them romp to the Premier League title in 2014-15. Albeit being given a leg-up thanks to Per Mertesacker’s early red card, the Blues gained a three points that very few teams have managed.
Cesc Fabregas was once again at his sparkling best and Chelsea were watertight at the back. It can certainly provide hope that with some fine tuning, their defence could be back to their best next season.
It was the kind of snatch-and-grab win that Jose Mourinho used to crave and displayed an ability to garner three points by any means necessary. In addition, it showcased Diego Costa’s ruthless finishing in what had appeared the Gunners’ game to lose.
Unfortunately for Chelsea their dramatic 96th minute equaliser against Everton proved nothing more than two points dropped in their mid-table struggles. Nonetheless, the admirable fight the Blues showed should serve as inspiration for next season.
Despite being seemingly dead and buried at 2-0 down, the Blues fought back to level affairs. Consequently, Everton scoring again to retain their lead would shatter the confidence and resolve of most teams.
Not Chelsea though with John Terry’s back heel salvaging an unlikely last gasp point. This kind of pure emotion and fight will be crucial if the Blues are to resurge under Conte and the supporters will be hoping for similarly partisan moments in 2016-17.
Ivanovic at the death
Southampton away has proved a tricky fixture for Chelsea in recent years, so much so that even Mourinho’s title winning side couldn’t garner three points at St. Mary’s. Despite this, Guus Hiddink’s men ended this hoodoo with an unlikely 2-1 victory on the south coast.
In many ways it proved painful for Blues fans because it reminded them that their side can still pull off such impressive results on their day. This season has simply been a case of the west London outfit doing it too little and irregularly.
Branislav Ivanovic’s header in the 89th minute showed the kind of passion and never give-up attitude that Chelsea can produce. It should buoy supporters as with a more rounded squad and new manager next season, such results could arise more frequently.
Although only an FA Cup tie in which Manchester City fielded a noticeably weak side, thrashing the two-time Premier League champions 5-1 is no mean feat.
This showcased the Blues’ ability to lock horns with some of the country’s juggernauts in a similar way to which they did in Mourinho’s first two seasons of his return. Manuel Pellegrini’s men were simply shell-shocked in an affair so one-sided it could be classed as a humiliation.
Diego Costa, Willian, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Bertrand Traore all found their names on the score sheet with Chelsea even affording time to miss a penalty. They’ll be hopes of reoccurrences next season.
Chelsea managed to hold a Manchester United side that executed one of its best performances of the season at Stamford Bridge in February. It's results like these that will have Conte rubbing his hands together as regards the passionate squad he’ll be inheriting.
Albeit falling behind via a Jese Lingard strike, the Blues fought back and could even have grabbed all three points if it wasn’t for the acrobatic exploits of David de Gea.
Costa’s stoppage time equaliser ensured a 1-1 draw and exhibited Chelsea’s fighting spirit. It should also accentuate confidence as the Blues were able to carve a way through a defensive outfit renowned for being so resolute under Louis van Gaal.
Chelsea face an uncertain future, at least in the short-term, but these results this season should comfort everyone at the club as regards the leap into 2016-17. There is certainly evidence to suggest from the aforementioned matches that with some troubleshooting, the Blues will be back fit and firing next season.
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