With Antonio Conte taking over as manager and a plethora of players linked with a transfer to the club, it’s an exciting period for Chelsea.
After their demise of 2015-16, the only way is up. Nonetheless, next season looks to be one of the most competitive title races in Premier League history with in excess of seven teams in with a shout of glory come May.
Despite the challenge though, Chelsea should be viewed as one of the strongest contenders to raid Leicester City for their accolade. Here are three reasons why the Blues could cause a shock next season and win back the title they had defended so poorly:
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The Conte factor
The main reason for excitement in west London undoubtedly proves their incoming manager Conte. Given he’s already masterminded defeats of Belgium and Spain at Euro 2016 as Italy coach, there’s certainly justification for such anticipation.
However, above all, the ex-Juventus boss is suited perfectly to the Premier League.
With 38 games across a relentless year of fixtures with no winter break, certain managers and players can struggle. Coupled with the notorious physicality of English football, even the biggest of squads can be eroded away by the time the curtains close.
Conte is renowned for the ‘intensity’ he demands from his players. This will suit the league down to a tee with the Blues likely to be playing high-pressing football in a format that demands it.
While beautiful football has its perks, against rough and tumble teams it can easily come undone. The Italian has the nous to win games in an ugly manner and ensure his team takes the game to even the most physical outfits.
Evidentially this cannot be maintained through such a long season, but Conte’s rich success at Juventus shows his ability to control the approach and not abuse it. Tactically, the 46-year-old has the upper hand and Chelsea will reap the reward.
Nobody expected Chelsea to flop quite in the manner in which they did last season. Even with a change of manager and a busy summer ahead, nobody is truly giving the Blues a sniff of the title next season.
While, at this level, most Premier League footballers are used to working under pressure, this lack of expectation can only work in their favour. Under Conte, they have nothing to lose and can throw the kitchen sink at games without fear of great disappointment.
The west London side looked shackled and constricted at the start of last season, but the new circumstances allow for a greater freedom. Consequently, the side could fine tune their build-up play and direct it away from the strict organisation of the latter Jose Mourinho days.
Besides, when you give players like Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas artistic license in the midfield, then success is an inevitability.
Chelsea could also be the beneficiaries of a new trend immerging in the Premier League and one that favours sides with new managers. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that new bosses are hitting the ground running in English football.
Just last year saw Claudio Ranieri make a return to England after 12 years and direct Leicester City to a first place finish. Similarly, Manuel Pellegrini bagged the league silverware during his inaugural season with Manchester City in 2014.
Subsequently, history bodes well for Chelsea under the control of Conte. While trends and patterns are there to be altered, the 46-year-old could be the second consecutive Italian manager to scoop the Premier League title in their first season with a new side.
In addition, no team since Manchester United in 2009 has retained the Premier League, so the door is open for Chelsea to prize it back.
Besides, they wouldn’t be the first. Both Manchester clubs, in 2013 and 2014 respectively, won back their title two years after they last had. In other words, it’s reasonably common for sides to garner the trophy either side of a stagnant season.
For the aforementioned reasons, there’s certainly ample ammunition to suggest Chelsea stand a good chance of Premier League glory next season. While there are no guarantees, it’d be vastly unwise to write off the Blues and their new commander in chief.
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