Football

A typically animated Antonio Conte during his first game in charge of Chelsea.

Antonio Conte could make this Chelsea side one of the very best in Europe

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In early 2014, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea were being talked about as being the next 'Invincibles'.

Mourinho had found exactly the right balance in his team as the Blues went on to claim their fourth Premier League title.

Mourinho's side didn't quite reach the expectations of some optimists, though. Despite winning the title and the League Cup, Chelsea fell slightly short with their last 16 exit in the Champions League, and their shock home defeat to League One Bradford City in the FA Cup.

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Chelsea only lost three Premier League games in the 2014/15 campaign, and during the first half of the season, Mourinho's team were head and shoulders above the rest.

Many expected much of the same last season, with Chelsea expected to retain the title. As we well know, things didn't quite go to plan for Mourinho though, with Leicester City winning the title and Chelsea unbelievably finishing the season in 10th.

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Chelsea's collapse was nothing short of spectacular, especially when you consider they have some of the best players on the planet in Thibaut Courtois, Cesc Fabregas, and Eden Hazard, and one of the best managers in Mourinho.

Guus Hiddink may have settled things at the Bridge when he replaced Mourinho as manager, but he didn't get the best out of the players, who only showed glimpses of the quality they produced the previous season.

Like at Manchester City and Manchester United, a new era has begun at Stamford Bridge, and they have kept hold of their key assets despite reports of player unrest last season.

Chelsea have also strengthened the squad with the signings of N'Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi, and if anyone is going to help Chelsea's key players return to form, it will be Antonio Conte.

WAC RZ Pellets v Chelsea - Friendly Match

The Italian's touchline antics at Euro 2016 have made everyone eager to see him get started in the Premier League, and his managerial record is very impressive so far. The Italian won three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus, including going through the entire 2011-12 season unbeaten.

Conte's 3-5-2 formation was the key to Juve's success and he deployed the same tactic to the national team at Euro 2016. Conte was the best manager during the tournament in France and his organized Azzurri side barely allowed Belgium or Spain to create a goal scoring opportunity against them.

Italy were extremely unlucky to exit at the quarter-final stage on penalties, and with a bit more luck, Conte could easily be going into the new season with a European Championship on his CV.

WAC RZ Pellets v Chelsea - Friendly Match

We're yet to know whether the Italian will use the 3-5-2 system that worked so well for both Juventus and Italy, and you feel Conte will probably need another top-class centre-half if the system is to be successful, but Cesar Azpilicueta will be the ideal full-back for the formation, as will new recruit Kante in the holding role.

Although the 3-5-2 has brought numerous success throughout Conte's managerial career, the former midfielder is also known for experimenting with many different formations, including a 4-2-4 and a 4-3-3 formation, and Conte will almost definitely be applying many different systems in pre-season.

This current crop of Chelsea players have been known for their defensive organisation in the past, so it could be the ideal situation for Conte, although he has some work to do to fix last year's problems.

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-CONTE

Many people forget this Chelsea team produced some fantastic performances in 2014 and went on to be the champions of England. Conte will also have the domestic advantage of not having to participate in any European football, which will be vital in this season's title race.

For the sake of his own reputation, Eden Hazard will be desperate to recapture his title-winning form, and if any manager can get the best out the Belgian, then it's Conte.

Leonardo Bonucci claimed the Juventus players referred to Conte as 'The Godfather' because of the way he made them want to listen to him, and that's exactly what this Chelsea team need after last season's catastrophe.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference

Despite Chelsea's much-needed signings, it's the Pep Guardiola v Jose Mourinho battle that seems to be dominating much of the pre-season title talk.

However, this current Chelsea team possesses bundles of ability, and combine that with Conte, currently the best in the business at getting the most out of his players, and this Chelsea side might go on to be one of the very best teams in Europe in years to come.

Where will Chelsea finish in the Premier League next season? Leave us YOUR predictions in the comment section below!

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Diego Costa
Frank Lampard
Chelsea
Didier Drogba
John Terry
Eden Hazard
Francesc Fabregas

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