Chelsea were very disappointing when defending their title last season but the Blues appear to have regained their mojo under new manager Antonio Conte. The Italian is renowned for his charisma and passion on the side-lines and his mindset has started to work wonders at Stamford Bridge.
Since losing 3-0 to Arsenal on September 24th, Conte’s side have won seven league games in a row – keeping six clean sheets during that spell. In fact, the Blues have conceded just one goal in their last seven games and Chelsea’s key stars have bought into Conte’s pragmatic, organised approach to the English game.
Remember David Luiz’s first stint at Stamford Bridge? He came under criticism for his failure to adapt and defend; with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville labelling him as a “10-year-old on a PlayStation”. Somehow, Conte has transformed the Brazilian into a solid option at the heart of the back four and he has arguably been one of Chelsea’s best players this campaign.
Teams are still struggling to figure out Chelsea’s unique 3-4-3 formation; a system that has rarely been used in English football. Conte isn’t a miracle worker but he has managed to get Chelsea playing to their full potential; even Cesar Azpilicueta has adapted his own game to suit Conte’s scheme.
On paper, Chelsea are a strong, physical outfit but they ooze class in a controlled manner on the field. Belgium winger Eden Hazard and star striker Diego Costa are back to their brilliant best despite reports of unrest in the summer and their form has been central to Chelsea’s rise to prominence.
Hazard, who was named the PFA Premier League Player of the Year in the 2014/15 campaign, has regained top form in recent weeks and Chelsea are reaping rewards from his extensive and varied skillset. Meanwhile, Costa is currently top of the Golden Boot chart; netting 10 goals in 13 games this campaign. It is hard to envision Chelsea letting up if these two men maintain their incredible form…
As of November 28th, Chelsea are priced at 2/1 to win the title with 888sport. On current form, it would be difficult to back against the Blues and fans will be quietly confident after their recent run. For those who are unfamiliar with betting but fancy the Blues to win, there is a useful walkthrough available here: www.888sport.com/blog/sport-betting-guide/.
Conte has worked wonders with Luiz and former benchwarmer Victor Moses and he could be the difference maker in the title race. The Italian has been there and done it all but crucially, he is a born winner and that is what makes him an elite coach. Whether he has to adapt a ‘backs against the wall’ approach or go for the jugular, Conte is able to set his team up in exactly the right way to pick up the win.
It may seem a little clichéd but some managers have a major influence on the destiny of the title race and Conte’s thorough preparation could give Chelsea the edge in the business end of the campaign.