Last season was dogged with unfortunate circumstances and staff changes at Chelsea FC after the Eva Carneiro fiasco and the eventual sacking of Jose Mourinho in December 2015. A torrid first half of the season came to a close when Guus Hiddink returned to Stamford Bridge for his second stint as boss, and their fortunes improved after January. This, among with many other factors, bodes well for the Blues going into the 2016-17 season.
Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s player of the season in 2014/15 but failed to reproduce that form last year.
The form of Eden Hazard last season was concerning for Chelsea and Belgium fans alike looking towards Euro 2016 and the subsequent BPL season. However the tricky Belgian winger began to find the form of seasons gone by towards the end of the campaign, most notably in the game against Tottenham Hotspur where Hazard scored a sublime equaliser to deliver the title into the hands of Leicester City.
At the European Championships in France, Hazard has shown glimpses of the ability that earned him the acclaim of players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In particular the Round of 16 game against Hungary in Toulouse where Hazard put in a stunning performance, including scoring a wonderful solo goal, in the 4-0 Belgian romp. The revitalisation of their most important player will be crucial to Chelsea’s attempts to recover from their worst season under the reign of Roman Abramovich.
They will need big name players such as Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Hazard’s compatriot Thibaut Courtois to follow the example of Hazard and to re-find their form of the 2014-15 campaign in which Chelsea breezed to the highest honour in English football. Should their best players shrug off their egos and their temper tantrums then Chelsea are more than capable of repeating their form of past title winning seasons.
Current Italy manager and future Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
The man who has been employed with the aim of unlocking this great potential within the squad is the Italian tactical mastermind, Antonio Conte. Having overseen the dominant force that has been Juventus in the Serie A this past season and subsequently the tactically brilliant Italian national side in the European Championships, the side that dumped 8-year holders Spain out of the competition in the Round of 16. The defensive display put in by the Azzuri during that game and the dominance of Juventus in the Italian League last season shows why Conte is the perfect fit for this Chelsea side. What Chelsea really missed this season was the defensive unit that has been the crown jewel in the Blues’ arsenal for so many years.
John Terry’s age is finally beginning to show and although he still holds great leadership skills and is still an aerial threat in both boxes, he has lost that burst of pace that is vital in the modern Premier League era. The club captain has been given an extra year extension on his contract but it is unlikely that he will feature next season should Kurt Zouma return from injury to partner Gary Cahill at centre half. Chelsea don’t have the calibre of defender available to Conte at Juve in Barzagli, Chiellini and Bonucci, incidentally the exact back three that Conte plays for Italy, but it is more the philosophy that Conte will be bringing to Stamford Bridge that will be of greater importance than the players themselves. Conte will tighten up the defence and Chelsea’s wealth of attacking talent will do the rest, allowing them to claim their sixth major league title.
By Nick Clay.
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