Football

Antonio Conte has it all to do if Chelsea are to return to the top.

Antonio Conte has the toughest task of all incoming Premier League managers

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Chelsea suffered a horrendous 2015/16 campaign, and their attempt at defending their title was over before Christmas.

They managed only 50 points, 37 fewer than their league winning season the year before, and by finishing 10th, they gained the unwanted record of the worst ever defence of a Premier league title since the league shifted to 20 teams.

Now, The Daily Mail are reporting that incoming manager Antonio Conte has been tasked by the Chelsea hierarchy with returning his side to the Champions League, and also challenging for the title.

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Never has a team fallen from grace quite as profoundly as the Blues did last season, so it will take a turnaround of quite immense proportions for the Stamford Bridge outfit to return to the summit in such a short period of time.

The Chelsea squad as a whole is an ageing one, with key players such as John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, and Gary Cahill all 30 or above.

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Conte must surely be looking at the Blues defence as a main area of concern, especially after they shipped 53 goals in 38 Premier League outings last term.

The Italian has been notorious for building extremely strong defensive units throughout his managerial career, so a move for at least one centre-back, and possibly even a right-back should be high on Conte's priority list.

Another issue the incoming Chelsea boss will have to address is the alarming drop in form of midfielders Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, and Nemanja Matic.

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They were arguably Chelsea's three most important players in their 2014/15 title-winning season, but all three players were barely recognisable this time around.

Conte will have to either try and get the best out of those stars, or bring in more youthful models, possibly players he has worked with in the past, such as Paul Pogba and Marco Verratti, which would represent a real upgrade in an area where Chelsea were desperately poor last term.

The final area of the pitch the former Juventus coach will most certainly have to address is the centre-forward position.

Whether Diego Costa is at his best or not, what the Blues desperately need is someone of sufficient quality who can either play with the Spaniard, or deputise for him in his absence.

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Loic Remy is quite clearly not of the standard needed to succeed at a club the size of Chelsea, so they will surely be looking at a world-class striker who can elevate them back to the top.

Gonzalo Higuain would be the ideal signing, with proven goalscoring pedigree. Or, if they wanted to go down a more youthful route, Alvaro Morata would be the perfect understudy to Costa, and provide ample competition for the Chelsea striker.

It can be argued that Chelsea need at least four new signings to reinvigorate the squad, and give them a chance of returning to where they believe they belong.

Only time will tell if Conte shares that opinion, or if he will instead keep faith in a group that severely under-performed last season.

Where will Chelsea finish in the Premier League next season? Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!

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Topics:
Chelsea
Football
Didier Drogba
John Terry
Premier League
Eden Hazard
Francesc Fabregas

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